Skills the tactics of tackling in AFL, as against NRL.

Discussion in 'Skills, Coaching, Admin, Umpires' started by tigernova, May 8, 2012.

Put it out there
  1. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    ive been encouraged to think more about the skill of tackling and how it relates to AFL as against NRL. i played RL all of my youth and into my late 20's. i had the good fortune of having some pretty good coaching as an adult, so i understand the basics of tackling pretty well. what ive written is basically me thinking out loud. any ideas or input from others here would be appreciated.

    apart from the basics, 'tackling' in the NRL has moved on from those days, to the extent that clubs now employ wrestling coaches, to keep players on the ground longer to give the defence longer to get set. but thats another topic.


    i now coach a junior RL team, and am helping out a junior AFL team as my son plays both codes. teaching the RL kids to tackle is pretty straight forward. the aim is to ground the player, preferably without him getting the ball away (offload). a tackle can be made from shoulder to toes. even ankle taps are ok. tackles are taught from front on, side, behind, and 'ball and all'.

    however, teaching AFL kids how to tackle makes me consider how to teach them, as the outcomes we are looking for in AFL are different to that in RL. as are the type of tackles required, and i believe in AFL you cant tackle below the knees?


    watching 'port' play on the weekend a commentator said "tackling in our game has increased 3 fold over the last 20 years".



    if this is the case, AFL kids really do need to learn some basic skills of how to tackle. this is my take on what is required to further the understanding and the skills required by AFL kids as the game changes.

    there are safety issues to be considered. in any attempt at tackle, a players head should be positioned so he wont get it under a falling player. but also what must be thought about is the tactical aspect of why we should make a tackle in AFL and the style of tackle to employ to get the best result.

    in league, you tackle an opponent to prevent him making yards, and stop him promoting the ball. in AFL you tackle to stop a player, but also to win the ball. this presents a different concept to that of league, and requires some consideration.

    firstly, i dont believe in guernsey slings, or tackling with the hands. these are bad habits, and therefore good habits of tackling correctly should be taught even before a player uses these skills (u11's?). 1st contact should be made with the shoulder with the tacklers head positioned behind the forward momentum of the running player.

    keeping that in mind, as well as the idea that in AFL we are trying to win the ball by tackling, and stopping an opponent from offloading or kicking; in a chase situation if you are close enough you should hit the player with the shoulder in a ball and all tackle, where you hit a player with the correct shoulder and wrap your arms around his torso to stop him promoting the ball, and continue to drive your legs as the player gets taken to the ground. if the initial impact hasnt dislodged the ball, he must release when he is on the ground. this gives your team the opportunity to win the ball.

    if you are further away from the (side on) running opponent, the tackle should be aimed at the hips, tacklers head behind the player. this will disrupt a kick or handball that the player is attempting, and again he must release the ball once on the ground or it will be dislodged in the initial 'hit'..

    front on tackles are not a general part of play in the AFL. but players will run at you and step in either direction. the correct tackle in that situation is to hit the player preferably under the ball or at ball level, driving forward as you impact. if the player is running to your left, use your left shoulder, or to your right, use your right shoulder. this keeps your head behind the momentum of a falling player. if the player is further away, but in front, the attempt at tackle should be made lower, hips or thighs.

    so in summing up, the preffered method of tackle in AFL should be at ball level or just under it. if the player is too far away for a high tackle then a diving tackle for the hips or thighs should be employed. the aim is to firstly disrupt the players attempt at promoting the ball, and secondly to win the ball back for your team.
     
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  2. looker

    looker Team Captain

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    Good post. Love that eventually someone has recognised the differences of the objectives behind tackling for AFL & any form of Rugby.

    Another difference is that AFL is a 360 degrees game (as opposed to Rugby).
    Hence AFL a player can not only dispose of the ball at 360 degrees but also run/walk/evade in any direction. In RL, effective tackling/body presence firstly needs to halt the player and then everything else is secondary. If you fail to halt the player, then you have failed in your tackle as that player is past you and potentially on their way to a try. The point you mentioned about grounding the player and giving backline chance to re-set are all secondary to firstly halting the player.

    The RL term that has infiltrated the AFL terminology which mostly frustrates me is “Watch the hips”. What a load of sh!t. That’s a Rugby term – for the exact reasons I just wrote about. In AFL, the hips will tell you nothing, because a player doesn’t run directly at you, with the intention to evade you. They may run from the side, away from you, be on the ground, have just taken the ball from the air etc etc. If a player watches the hips, they then have no idea of 1) The options available to the ball carrier 2)What the ball carrier is considering doing with the ball 3)The option that the ball carrier is aware of.
    All 3 of these points need to be aware to the tackler to help execute the ‘correct’ type of tackle required.

    I have watched many elite tackling coaches (most from RL) try to teach AFL players how to tackle. Most are good and worthy of their reputation. My views differ from those of Rugby backgrounds - including yours, and these show through in the tackling I have been teaching for many years now.

    Most of what you wrote has merit. In fact most AFL coaching of tackling revolves around shoulder position/hips/head position etc. Which is all secondary or non-existent to how I teach it.

    The biggest point I would argue with you is that 'tackling with hands is a bad habit’. Tackling with hands in AFL is exactly how you need to tackle. Tackle with your hands first and consistently shuffle hands position to lay an effective tackle. Closer body contact, influencing the body positioning of the ball carrier, going to ground, etc etc are all secondary tackling aspects to the tackling with the hands.

    There are other (minor) aspects which also go hand in hand with the above – and such a forum like this doesn’t allow me to give the tackle justice. There are some other key elements in the tackle which I have not mentioned, and will not. As I save those for the players & coaches that I encounter.

    All the same, tackle (correctly & effectively) with the hands firstly, if you get close enough to influence with other parts of your body do so, however make sure that to lay an effective tackle, you influence the part of the ball carriers body that you must always influence in every single tackle you lay, in order to improve your chances of laying an effective tackle.

    What part of the body is for you to figure out – and what an effective tackle if also for you to figure out. I can’t show you the light and get you to walk through the door as well !
     
  3. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    cheers for the reply mate, and sorry i havent picked up on it sooner.

    the topic certainly does need discussion. there are different angles in AFL that are unusual but not unencountered in RL.

    i dont want to argue about tackling methods, i think we'll get further discussing it. but your assertion that tackling with the hands is the prefered method in the AFL ( " Tackling with hands in AFL is exactly how you need to tackle.") is absolutely, totally wrong. that is why ELITE AFL teams employ league or union ex-players. they recognise that there is a correct, most effective series of tackles for any situation.

    rugby league, union, gridiron all have tackling as half of their game. these sports are the experts in tackling. they all agree on tackle styles from every direction you will encounter on an AFL field. from behind, from the side, from in front etc, etc.

    tackling with the hands or even with the arms are weak tackles and players generally run through them. you must get a player in a 'hug' to employ your most powerful hold. that is why shoulder or chest should make first contact. it puts you in deep, and your arms envelope the attacker.

    as i have said, guernsey grabs are weak attempts and looked on by other codes as tackles without courage. for when you tackle correctly, you put your head closer to the impact than is encountered with a weak guernsey tackle.

    a ball and all tackle, where you wrap your arms completely around a player is fine. but you should have initial chest or shoulder in the first instance. tackling with the hands or arms is total rubbish.

    guernsey tackles CAN be effective occaisionally. some players get away with it as a last resort. but there is not one instance where you would employ it over any other type of correct tackle.

    hold a tackling bag with both hands. then get a strong bloke to run with the bag. see how long you stay connected. then try it with your shoulder snugly against the bag, with your arms around the bag. see how long HE last dragging you round! the difference is strength employed. hand tackles are bullshit. you must encompass a player with your torso and arms. getting to that position is the art of tackling. not everyone masters it. not all have the courage. those that dont, arm or hand tackle.
     
  4. Dr Tigris

    Dr Tigris Premiership Player

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    Interesting topic. On tackling with the hands, does looker mean using the hands to get at the ball / stopping the ball carrier from getting rid of it effectively? If he means tackling with the hands rather than the body i strongly dissagree. You have to hit hard and stop the body, and jolt the carrier if possible to stop them disposing of the ball.

    In AFL stopping the ball carrier is secondary to stopping their movement of the ball, IMHO. That's why teams will corral the ball carrier rather than tackle often. Stupid thing to do in Rugby, League, Gridiron. But sensible in AFL. If you can collect the ball carrier and lock the ball in or take it off them great. The holding the ball rule forces loss of the ball in way that isn't true of other codes. But, in tackling your goal is not just to hit them hard, it is to stop free flow of the ball. Hitting hard causes physical damage and often causes loss of the ball. But causing a player to run to the boundary stops forward momentum as well. AFL has more going on, and so is a bit more fuzzy.

    BTW you can't tackle below the waist/hips, not the knees.
     
  5. Blackout

    Blackout All Australian

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    As someone who has played both codes of rugby and Australian rules football I have some opinions on the matter.

    Firstly, as a fullback/winger in rugby I suppose my experiences tackling would have been most similar to the tackling situation in Aussie rules (AFL from now on). By that I mean that most tackling occurs when the ball carrier has some space rather than meeting the defensive line in a hit up. The technique for a tackle in rugby has been well explained by Tigernova; however the nature of rugby is that a ball carrier in space will seek to retain possession where an AFL player would be looking to dispose of the ball. There is a penalty in AFL for not disposing of the ball where rugby has a penalty for losing control of it (essentially polar opposites).

    Secondly, the nature of AFL is that tackling with the shoulder is not often reasonable. The priority is to pin the ball carrier’s arms. In my first year of AFL I would often lead with the shoulder, yet the ball carrier would simply lift their arms and handball to their advantage. I have since worked on changing my tackling technique to suit AFL. This has meant that stripping the ball carrier of possession or preventing disposal of the ball is more important than ensuring they go to ground without advancing. When people discuss hand tackles in an AFL context I assume they refer a bear-hug like technique (think ball-and-all), where you pin the ball carrier’s arms so he is unable to dispose of the football. This is the most effective method for the game.

    Thirdly, your assumption of a jumper tackle may hold weight if most tackling was done where the ball carrier was trying to run through the tackler. The reality is that only a poor footballer would see breaking a tackle instead of disposing of the football as a preferable option. If you want to see proof of the two codes and their attitude to being tackled, get two teams of AFL footballers to play rugby against each other. As they are about to get tackled the majority of them (assuming they aren’t from a rugby background) will attempt to offload the ball as they are tackled. While to a rugby follower it may look like they are simply scared of being tackled it is simply instinctive to not get caught in possession of the ball.
     
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  6. Dr Tigris

    Dr Tigris Premiership Player

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    What blackout said is what I meant.
     
  7. WoGiTaLiA

    WoGiTaLiA Club Legend

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    Strongly disagree on the hands part. A good tackle in any sport should be able to be made with the hands wrapped in tape and completely worthless. Anything you are using your hands for should be in addition to the actual tackle, basically once you are reduced to using the hands you are already halfway beaten, if you are needing to cling to the jumper then you didn't wrap successfully with the arms, you almost certainly didn't have the correct head position and you almost certainly didn't drive with your legs.

    AFL is the most difficult sport to tackle in that I've played (Rugby Union, League, Gridiron and AFL) because of the severe restrictions that are placed on you and what you can do/target as well as evasive maneuvers available to the ball carrier but the fundamentals are the same, you tackle with your legs, chest and head, not your arms. Once you've been reduced to "arm" tackling you are well on the path to being beaten again. Your arms are to complete the tackle, be that by stripping, wrapping or restricting disposal, but you need to deliver the tackle with the rest of your body, get your head across the ball carrier where possible, this is the most effective way to have good head position and to restrict evasive moves and drive through with your legs.

    AFL is no different to the other sports in that a good tackle will stop progress, any player that has their progress halted has to change how they are going to dispose of the ball, loses all momentum to break the tackle and is completely on the backfoot (literally).

    Of course the problem is that many situations do not make tackles like that possible, chasing from behind is far harder in AFL than other sports where both trips and forward lunging tackles are legal, and adjustments need to be made, that said, these unique situations are all easier if your technique on basic tackles is sound and really the chase from behind is about the only situation where tackling technique needs to be changed and even the basics are the same, stop the momentum first and foremost.

    Cool thread by the way!
     
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  8. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    youve made some good points wogitalia.

    tackling from behind does represent a problem in AFL as against league. in league, you can as a last resort, ankle tap. getting close enough from behind in AFL to tackle 'above the waist' is mostly going to take too long to get there. but to do so corrctly, if close enough. again, head should be on the opposite side of the momentum of a falling player . if heis heading a little left of you, hit him with your left shoulder so your head is on top when he falls.

    as an ex league player, i see so many missed tackle opportunities in each AFL game. it is just because the players arent skilled in that area. do they need to be? well i believe a complete player should have it on his resume.

    in front of me i have an AFL recruiting reports program. guidelines for spotting talent are (ive got to type all this...)
    1. kicking ability
    2. marking ability
    3. hand passing, vision , awareness
    4. clean hands
    5. ball winning ability
    6. pace
    7endurance.
    8. recovery and agility
    9. durability
    10 leadership and self disipline
    11,. agressiveness, intnsity, second efforts.
    12football charactor
    13. competitiveness
    14 football smarts

    the scales for making judgements, which will have a descriptor added, specific to the key performance area are;
    5 rare
    4excellent
    3good
    2marginal
    1poor

    ok. so nowhere does it say TACKLING ABILITY. i cant believe it.

    my son plays rugby league on a sunday, and AFL on a saturday. however, i want my son to play AFL exclusively when he reaches 12-15yo. but i want him to learn to tackle. which he is doing very well at already. i believe it is preparing him for contact well in advance of AFL kids of his own age, and i believe it will give him an advantage over other AFL KIDS when they begin full contact at 12yo, and into the future.

    im a real fan of jaeger omeara. that boy can tackle, and looks for tackles. i dont know where he gotit. i dont know if he had an early RL background, but it is part of what makes him a special player.

    that the AFL have not got in their talent spotting reports an avenue to report on a childs tackling ability is a mistake. its a huge mistake as tacking is ball winning. why would they overlook it?

    end of rant.
     
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  9. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    i dont know if the commentator reads big footy or not.....

    but one of them commented yesterday that one of the suns problems is that so many young recruits are judged on their ball winning ability and no emphasis on defence or tackling...(sound familliar). he said in a normal club, a couple of young blokes would be brought into a club of seniors and lear to defend after junior footy. he went on that the trouble with the GC was they were mostly kids that couldnt defend.

    amen to that.
     
  10. Caesar

    Caesar Ex-Huckleberry

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    The hips still tell you the direction that the player is moving in, before they start to move.

    Yes, you need to be aware of the tactical situation to try and predict what he's most likely to do next, but any good tackler in any sport will watch the hips of the player he is about to engage.
     
  11. rooboy91

    rooboy91 Debutant

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    Wrong sport?
     

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  12. Dr Tigris

    Dr Tigris Premiership Player

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    15.4.1 Correct Tackle or Correctly Tackled
    (a) For the purposes of these Laws, a Player executes a
    tackle correctly if:
    (i) the Player being held is in possession of the
    football; and
    (ii) that Player is held (either by the body or playing
    uniform) below the shoulders and above the knees.
    You got me (as well all the other guys in this thread saying above the waist).
    Fundamentally I was taught to tackle the hips and up. If you hit the thighs you will almost certainly slip down to a free. So yes you are right technically - but in practice tackling below the hips is appalling practice.
     
  13. looker

    looker Team Captain

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    Hey guys,
    Great insight by all.
    Need to clarify what I wrote earlier - as it seems to be taken out of context.
    Totally agree with shoulder/head position etc etc. Needs to be taught and enhanced as much as possible.
    My opinion is that the 'arms' and how you use them effectively during a tackle is the part of the tackle in AFL that is overlooked.
    Wogitalis - "A good tackle in any sport should be able to be made with the hands wrapped in tape and completely worthless"
    I really hope you don't teach AFL kids how to tackle !! FYI - What you described in your post is what AFL coaches call a 'Bump' ! Maybe it’s called something else in your sport.

    There is a bit of talk about halting momentum etc. It is not the primary focus of an AFL tackle.
    It may help in certain AFL tackle situations - but halting their momentum, bringing them to ground, placing your head in the correct position, hitting with your shoulder etc etc are all secondary. Yes they may make up components of different tackles in AFL, however they are secondary to what you are trying to achieve in an AFL tackle.


    Dr Tigris “does looker mean using the hands to get at the ball / stopping the ball carrier from getting rid of it effectively?” This is closer to the intention of a tackle layed in the AFL. That’s on the right track.

    What Blackout described in his post about his personal experiences between tackling in Rubgy and tackling in AFL is almost exactly on the money. “ The nature of AFL is that tackling with the shoulder is not often reasonable. The priority is to pin the ball carrier’s arms. In my first year of AFL I would often lead with the shoulder, yet the ball carrier would simply lift their arms and handball to their advantage…. “ and so on. Your experience in the different intention of laying a tackle between Rubgy and AFL is what is overlooked when teaching an AFL player how to tackle.


    Hence it has been frustrating in the past and even on here, where I see someone from Rubgy try to teach an AFL player ‘how’ to tackle. Yes they will be able to teach an AFL how to use their body effectively (Head, shoulder, legs etc etc) – but they are missing the point !

    In AFL, if you bother to tackle, then make sure it’s an ‘effective’ tackle. What’s an effective tackle: 1)Creating a stoppage. This includes ball-up or free-kick to you. 2)Opposition player disposal is classed as ineffective.
    Anything else is classified as a broken or missed tackle and you may as well not have even bothered laying the tackle in the first place !
    Example for the rugby guys: You lay a tackle in AFL. You tackle with your head in the correct position, lead with your shoulder, take the player to ground, turtle him, land on him and halt his momentum. Well done!! While you were doing this he handpassed the ball to his team-mate, who ran into an open goal.

    Score: 1 ‘in-effective tackle’ to you – 1 goal to the opposition.

    You failed to ‘influence’ the most important part of his body in disposing of the ball.
     
  14. Some Idiot

    Some Idiot Norm Smith Medallist

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    Generally there is a much larger focus on corralling the ball carrier in AFL, it usually works better with regards to the way most teams set up in the modern game.
     
  15. forwardflanker

    forwardflanker Cancelled

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    I would of though that's because it's pretty easily taught. Most of the things in the list either depend on athleticism which down largely to genetics or skills which are developed over years of practice. Tackling can be taught in about 2 secs.
     
  16. papabear

    papabear All Australian

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    I was taught shoulders?

    Watching the hips is better?

    Should I watch hips or shoulders?
     
  17. cos789

    cos789 Suspended

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    Talking about tackling in Australian Football you have to identify two basic scenarios.
    1. In a congested area the aim is tackle the player and impede the disposal of the ball.
    Gang tackling is counter productive as this will rarely gain a penalty. The tackle should include restricting the movement of one arm or putting the player off balance as to kicking as to draw an "illegal dispoasl" tackle.
    2. Out in th open, the aim is more to corral the player (including watching his hips), to pressure him into a poor disposal and not to overcommit to a tackle which the player might easily evade and then rebound.

    Tackling has certainly improved in Australian Football but IMO more pressure should be applied in the corralling scenario.

    .
     
  18. Dr Tigris

    Dr Tigris Premiership Player

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    Good to see this thread is still alive. interesting stuff on Hips vs Shoulders and Corraling vs Tackling.

    1) Hips v shoulders. Hips show you which way the person is going to move. Shoulders show you what they are doing with the ball. In Aussie rules it's both. If the guys is going to run past then look at the hips, if they will dispose then shoulders show what they are doing with the ball. So If they are running freely at you, then the hips are useless, you need to know what they are doing with the ball. But if they are close, how are they moving? When tackling you'd want to know what direction they are going and how hard - so hips. When near tackling its both (ish)

    2) Corraling vs Tackling. In RL you don't corral players, so the skills of shutting down space is very different. By pushing someone to the boundary you make effective disposal forward difficult and increase the chance of contests. So in general play coaches teach players to corral and push the ball carrier away from the corridor. A tackle there might miss and also might open up opportunities that good corralling cuts off - i.e. overlaps etc. But in close you want to stop the player, then tackle. Effectively a more complex game than RL changes the dynamics of stopping players.
     
  19. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    lol. you have to be joking. tackling in many cases demands a courage not every player is born with, and you can never teach that!

    i dont mean to be rude, but if you think tackling can be taught in two seconds, then youve never made a tackle, and certainl;y have never been hit by a good one!

    tackling is a skill that is taught from 7yo to elite level. it is never dropped as part of skill training in RL. it is worked on continuiously through a players life.

    even though it is used less in afl, to say that in AFL you need 2 seconds of coaching in it, is denying its importance in ball winning, etc.

    i think some of the excellent posts in this thread prove there it is an element in the game that needs some consideration.

    one thing that i will add; although it may be a slightly different subject, is that younger players response to constant tackling (RL) results in early developing skills to avoid defenders. many very young RL players learn excellent sidesteps, palms, changes of pace, hip or shoulder 'bumps', or even draw and pass skills, at a younger age, as full contact tackling is part of the game from u6 upwards. this all results from avoiding tackles. as a result, tackling must improve with the developing attacking skill.



    also, im very interested to learn that tackles can be made above the knees......excellent smithers...excellent...
     
  20. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

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    hi dr tigris.

    i havent even heard of the hips/shoulders movement thing. i was told to watch a boxers chest....but you zone out anyway, and its mostly subconcious reaction or action....i digress....

    in RL you DO corral players. you move up quickly to push them back towards the forwards, or the sideline.

    a fullback will corral you toward a sideline to tackle you over it. he will show you the option of going for the tryline by running down the sideline (quickest route), and he will run run slow enough so you cant step back inside. at the point of no return, the fullback will accelerate and take you over the sideline....hopefully.
     
  21. Blackout

    Blackout All Australian

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    I think you underestimate how much being able to dispose of the ball forward influences tackling in AFL; there are ways around a defender other than evasion or a choreographed chip-and-chase.

    The instance you bring up, a tackle attempt for the fullback is inevitable; it is just a matter of execution. A rugby player needs to be in possession to score while an AFL player needs simply to kick a ball between posts.
     
  22. cos789

    cos789 Suspended

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    Violins anybody. Pack marking takes courages. lots of things need courage. The hardest thing I found in any football code was having the confidence to demand that the ball be kicked to me. Tackling I found a pleasure.

    I switched to RU and never received any tackling coaching just came naturally.
    Of course for most other players it was different.

    .
     
  23. forwardflanker

    forwardflanker Cancelled

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    Well you asked the question as to why tackling isn't a high priority for recruiters and I gave you the answer. It's just not that hard to teach, nor as important compared to other core afl skills like kicking, vision/awareness, reading play, marking etc.

    and lol at "tackling in many cases demands a courage not every player is born with, and you can never teach that" - that is just a ridiculous call. How does tackling require any more courage than many of the other acts an a footy field.

    To say that tackling is ball winning is also wrong. Most of the time a tackle results in a stoppage or a spillage, occasionally there will be a turn over but not that often given the way the umpires have interpreted things this year. Tackling is important but only in so far as it makes up part of a broader defensive gameplan. AFL clubs teach defensive skills when recruits get there, it is not considered that important a part in recruiting a player because it can be taught.

    You can't teach athleticism and other skills mentioned above (kicking, vision, marking etc) will always be much more important in AFL than tackling. Tackling is will always be a secondary skill in AFL.
     
  24. forwardflanker

    forwardflanker Cancelled

    Collingwood
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    Tackling is less important/easier to teach than every category on this list.
     
  25. tigernova

    tigernova Suspended

    Gold Coast
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    hawthorn may dissagree with you this morning.....