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Tackling Tips from LB Patrick Willis

Who better to get tackling tips from then linebacker Joe Staley, who led the NFL in tackles in his rookie season. Willis grew up playing football in his hometown of Tennessee, before going on to play college ball at Ole Miss. Willis was a first-round by the 49ers in 2007, and quickly took the NFL by storm by earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie. Enjoy tips from this professional football player on how to make a good tackle!

Tips on catching the becoming a better tackler:


The most important thing to know about tackling iswhatever you do - always keep your head up when making a tackle. When you are making a tackle, you have to keep your head up, grab some cloth from the opponent's jersey and drive with your feet until you bring your opponent to the ground.

By drive your feet, I mean keep your legs moving. But, the biggest thing is to keep your head up, if you do that, you will avoid injuries to your head and neck.

Tips on what to do before the snap:

Before the ball is snapped, linebackers should always look at the tailback or the fullback. Try and see if you can look at their eyes. That way, you already have an idea of where they might be coming, because most running backs look to where they're headed before the play even starts.

It's also a big key to see the body stance of the offensive linemen. See if they're heavy. And you can do that by checking their knuckles. Most of the time, if their knuckles are red, it means they are pushing off the ground and they are going to most likely run block, if the knuckles are lighter in complexion, it's likely going to be a pass play.

If they are wearing gloves, I don't know what to tell you.

If a lineman is light or heavy in his stance, you can tell if it's pass or run. Light means they want to be balanced and quick on their feet and heavy means they want to push off the ground and make the first contact with the defender.

Qualities needed to be a great middle linebacker:

  1. You have to have determination.
  2. You have to have a lot of heart.

That's the only qualities you really need to have. You don't have to be 6-foot-2 250-pounds, you just have to have determination and heart. As long as you have those two qualities, you are going to be alright. You can play any position on the football field.

Tips on covering the pass:

First of all, my tips depend on if you are playing man-to-man or zone coverage. If you are playing man-to-man defense, cover your man. Don't look at the quarterback and keep your eyes on your man at all times.

If you are playing in a zone, don't pay too much attention to short routes in front of you, because there is always a receiver running behind you. When you backpedal to get into coverage, after you have read the linemen and the quarterback who've clued you that's it's a pass play, stay low and keep your feet moving quickly.

Also, keep low if you are dropping into a zone. That way you can react to what's happening and break on a receiver that's close to you.

Try not to think too much about your feet as you backpedal or move side-to-side in coverage. If you think too much about your feet, you're going to miss the ball.

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