The movement in the football world to make the game safer is being witnessed through every level. It is important to note that these changes are not aimed in any way to restrict or take away the contact and collisions we love in the game.
In British Columbia, there have been a great number of coaches that have taken the necessary steps to educate themselves with the safe techniques and learning some key components in the coaching language as we teach tackling.
Take the "Head" out of the description of the tackle
(i.e. "head across the body," "head on the ball," "head across the bow")
Replace "Wrap" with "Rip"
Wraps refers to the arms opening away from the body. The hugging motion causes the head to drop into a bad position. Also, when in this position, it is impossible for the player to extend the hips.
Rip refers to the arms being tight to the ribs. The ripping action allows for the hips to extend and the head to stay up with eyes to the sky. It is essential to build strength through the ripping motion while emphasizing the hands grabbing cloth.
"Buzz the Feet" or "Fast Feet" instead of "Breakdown"
Breakdown often implies stopping the feet and being more flat-footed or on the heels. By referring to fast feet or buzz feet, the players will maintain their feet movement and maximize the force produced to execute a great tackle.
Simple changes in the language used to describe tackling will help the players put their body in a safer and more effective tackling position.
When teaching an angle tackle:
Instead of "head across the bow/the body", use "foot and knee aim to the far arm pit."
These simple changes in language when coaching tackling will go a long way to sending a consistent, on-going message to the players. Remember tackling and contact technique can be coached, improved and developed without contact and pads.
For more on safe contact, check out Football BC's Touchdown BC show.