Teaching Defensive Technical Skills essay

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After reviewing this linked video, please take one of the defensive technical skills discussed in Chapter 4 and provide a review and analysis of how the author teaches and discusses this skill. In your review and analysis, be sure to address the following questions.

How would YOU coach this skill up the staircase? Take into account the feedback you received on your Week 2 Assignment. What aspects of skill will need to become habit before you try to work the skill up the next step? How will you know that your instruction has been effective/ineffective? Use the information from the video to support your answers. What specific teaching techniques would you use to instruct the skill effectively?

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Each skill has a section titled “Key Points’ located on the top left hand side of the page. Explain why these key points are valuable for learning the skill.

Discuss anything that you would add to this section. Did the author do a good job of correcting the common errors? What would you do differently as a coach?

This essay must be submitted as a Word document attachment which is double-spaced and approximately two pages in length. Please cite all references used to develop your essay.




Tackling is the single most important defensive skill in the game of football. Every player on the defensive team must be able to tackle consistently and must be able to do it well. No defensive scheme or concept will ever stop a play unless the offensive man is tackled. Thus, tackling is one of the few skills in football that is critically important on nearly every play of the game.

Tackling can also be dangerous if it is not executed properly. Tacklers must remember never to drive their helmet or facemask into the opponent as the initial point of contact. In particular, head-down contact (initiating contact with the top, or crown, of the helmet), also known as spearing, greatly increases the risk of injury.

Coming to Balance
As he approaches the ball carrier, the tackler must come to balance, meaning that he must shorten his stride, widen the placement of his feet and lower his hips by bending his knees (see figure 4.4). A balanced position with low pad level is critical for leverage, power and stability in the tackle and will help prevent the tackler from missing or being pushed backward by the ball carrier.

Squaring Up
At the final ready position before contact, the tackler should keep his back straight and his head up with his eyes on the chest of the ball carrier or, for a better focus, with his eyes on the ball. As in catching a football, the eyes lead the tackler to the end result, and if the eyes stray from the target (if the tackler ducks his head, for example) or if they close, the tackler may miss his mark and miss the tackle.

Contacting the Defender
At the moment of impact, the tackler should explode off the foot that is on the side of the shoulder that will be making contact. When executing a head-on tackle, the player can explode off either foot, but for an angle tackle, he must explode off the foot and shoulder nearer the ball carrier. The tackler should make contact with the shoulder pad, not the helmet, and drive the shoulder pad up through the ball carrier’s chest, keeping the helmet to the side for a head-on tackle (see figure 4.5a) and in front of the ball carrier for an angle tackle (see figure 4.5b). For both, the hips and legs must explode upward through the ball carrier.

Wrapping the Arms
After the initial contact and leg drive, the tackler must wrap his arms to secure the tackle (see figure 4.6). He should use both arms to wrap up the runner and grab the cloth on the back of the opponent’s jersey if possible. As the legs continue to drive, the tackler lifts the ball carrier and drives him to the ground.

Pass Rush
Rushing the passer is the best form of pass defense. The obvious goal is to sack the quarterback, but a fierce pass rush can also disrupt the passing game by knocking down passes, forcing the quarterback to shorten his passing motion by squeezing the pocket, narrowing the quarterback’s field of vision by compressing the throwing lanes, causing the quarterback to hurry his pass and perhaps causing the quarterback to scramble out of the pocket and not throw at all.

Defenders must understand that rushing the passer produces infrequent rewards. One or two sacks in a game would be an excellent performance, and the quarterback may have attempted 30 or even 40 passes. The defender must rush tenaciously. With great desire and hustle, he will occasionally win the battle. Determination is one of the pass rusher’s most valuable attributes.

Recognizing Pass Protection
A great pass rusher has already planned his move before the next pass play happens. He knows how he will attack, once he reads pass, and he can execute his pass rush aggressively and authoritatively without hesitating. At the snap of the ball, if the offensive lineman pops up out of his three-point stance, the read is pass and the defender assigned to rush the quarterback must spring into action. The quarterback will not hold the ball for long; thus the defender doesn’t have much time to make his move.

In some high-tendency passing situations, such as third down and long yardage to go, some coaches may turn loose their pass rushers, telling them to start their pass rush on the snap of the ball instead of waiting to read the offensive blocker, a tactic that should give them a good head start on their pass rush moves. This ploy may weaken the ability of the defense to stop a run, but if the offense chooses to run the ball on long yardage, the hope is that the linebackers and safeties can make the tackle short of a first down.

Staying in the Lane
Defenders who are rushing the passer are assigned pass rush lanes that define, generally, the path that their defensive coaches want them to take on their way to the quarterback. Two rushers are always designated as contain rushers, meaning that they are supposed to stay outside the last pass protector in the pocket of the offense, where the quarterback is located. Although they are still trying to get pressure on the quarterback, their primary job is to be sure that the quarterback cannot scramble out of the pocket toward either sideline. The other two rushers in a traditional four-man pass rush are assigned a lane between the quarterback and the contain rusher on their side. Again, they are trying to put pressure on the quarterback, but they must each rush on their side of the ball, keeping the quarterback on the inside shoulder so that the quarterback cannot find a way out of the pocket. The contain rushers, within certain guidelines, can occasionally take an inside rush to keep the pass blockers honest (see “Taking the Inside Rush” on page 229 for more information), but if they do choose to go inside, their coaches will tell them that they better be sure to sack the quarterback!

Using the Rip and the Swim
The two most common pass rush moves are the rip technique and the swim technique. Both moves attack one side of the blocker and use aggressive hand action to evade the blocker’s pass protection. A pass rusher should use the rip or the swim when he is matched up one-on-one with a pass blocker who begins to favor one side or the other on his pass setup and pass blocking. The pass rusher should threaten the side that the pass blocker favors, possibly using a head fake or hard step in that direction, and then use the rip or swim move to get past the blocker on his opposite side.

As an example, let’s say that the blocker is favoring the inside rush and the defender decides to try to beat him outside with the rip or swim move. In either case, the defender sets up the move with a fake and then takes a quick step to the outside with the outside foot (see figure 4.16a), followed by a long second step with the inside foot (see figure 4.16b). The outside arm of the defender then drives down hard on the outside arm of the blocker, pushing that arm into his body. The defender drives his inside arm under the blocker’s outside arm on the rip (see figure 4.17a) or over the blocker’s outside arm on the swim (see figure 4.17b). As this hand action takes place, the defender drives his inside leg past the outside leg of the blocker, driving his hips and his inside shoulder aggressively through any contact. Great quickness and hand actions make these moves extremely effective.
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