1, 2, 3 step: TACKLE!

How can you improve your rugby players’ tackling?

Well, sometimes the question is more like, how can I get some of my players to tackle in the first place?

There are three simple things you need to do:

1. Be patient. Some players will take time to become tacklers.
2. Build confidence through good technique.
3. Practise tackling in some form every training session.

You don’t have to have “full-on” tackling in every session. In fact, plenty of low impact training will do. Just make it relevant and, if possible, fun.

Here’s an exercise from my very own Rugby Coach Weekly which I’ve often used to build confidence.

It’s ideal if you want to have a breakout group during training with players who need to work more in this area.

Build up the tackle confidence and techniques of your players by using short distances for the ball carrier to run forward while still aiming to beat the tackler – then increasing them.

Why use it

The tackler can work on his body height, footwork and leg drive in a low impact environment, while the ball carrier has to use quick feet to get to the side of the tackler.

Set up

12 cones set out in two triangles as in picture 1. A ball. You can set up a couple of these areas for pairs to work in.

How to do it

Put a tackler in the middle of the cones and, to start with, a ball carrier 1m away (see picture 1). The ball carrier starts by reacting to your signal to move left or right. He steps outside that cone and goes for the cone directly in front of him. The tackler steps forward and makes a side-on tackle (see picture 2).

Swap and repeat. After several goes, the ball carrier starts on the next set of cones back repeating the step to the side and then forward. Finally work off the back cones (see picture 3).

Adjust the distances to match the ability and size of your players.


  • Keep feet active
  • Eyes fixed on the tackle target at all times
  • Step into the tackle
  • Head in the right place.


You can find more drills and sign up to my rugby coaching email at Rugby Coach Weekly.

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Dan Cottrell
Rugby Coach at Rugby Coach Weekly
Dan is editor of Rugby Coach Weekly. He played first class rugby for Bath and Bristol before becoming head of rugby at top private school, Cranleigh. He left in 2005 to start up Rugby Coach Weekly with Andy Griffiths at Green Star Media. They now publish many other sports coaching journals including Soccer Coach Weekly and Peak Performance. Dan has coached rugby at international and grassroots level.

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