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How to Be a Successful Tackler by Keeping Cleats in the Ground

By Terry Donovan, USA Football, 04/19/19, 12:00PM CDT

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A defender’s power comes from driving their cleats against the ground. The feet being grounded creates resistance against the ball carrier. 

“Cleats in the ground” has been something we have preached as offensive line coaches for quite some time. In order to have maximum power and control, we coached our linemen on the importance of having their cleats in the ground. The same is true when tackling. USA Football has done a deep dive on the mechanics of tackling and how to coach it, and one of the biggest things that comes out of the training is teaching tacklers to have their “cleats in the ground.”

It sounds easy enough to tell a player to do this, but what does it mean? For years, we as coaches have told our would-be tacklers to run their feet. That is a part of it, but as a coach you need to understand what having your cleats in the ground both means and does for a player.