How Rugby Style Tackling Is Benefiting Football


The term “rugby style tackling” was coined in 2012 when a guest rugby coach from England visited the Seahawks’ team facility. Coach Pete Carroll and Assistant Head and Defense Coach Rocky Seto were practicing the fundamentals of a leverage-based shoulder tackling method: track the near hip, target the thigh, hit with the leveraged shoulder. The visiting coach said it looked like a rugby tackle, and it added element to how the Seahawks teach tackling.

The new method has had a positive effect on the Seahawks. From 2013 through 2015, the Seahawks allowed a league-best 4.3 yards after the catch and were fifth in the NFL in yards allowed after contact to runners. Similarly, in terms of player safety, last season, the Seahawks finished the year with just four concussions, according to the PBS Frontline: Concussion Watch website.

While Seto has admitted that he was simply looking for a better way to tackle you can’t ignore that the technique is a safer alternative as it takes the head out of the equation, lowering the risk for head injuries such as concussions.

The Seahawks have shared videos where Head Coach Pete Carroll teaches rugby tackling and since then there has been a major shift over how to tackle, largely to make the game safer. It has gained so much momentum that a Seattle company, and close friends of us at Athlete Intelligence, Atavus, previously devoted to promoting rugby, has entered the marketplace to also analyze football tackles.

The system, built by coaches with decades of collective experience in rugby and football, uses custom drill progressions and practice and game film analysis to improve tacklers’ confidence and instincts. The rugby-inspired system emphasizes both effectiveness and safety.

“We enjoy and appreciate the work we are doing with some of the top high-performance football programs in the country,” says Coach Rex Norris Jr., Atavus Head of Football. “To truly change on-field results, we must address the youngest generations of players. Our mission and approach is resonating with coaches, players and parents at all levels of the game. Everyone wants confident, instinctive, effective and safer tacklers. We teach them how.”

At Athlete Intelligence we are all about giving coaches the opportunity to teach better, safer techniques. Our system can identify which players are using improper technique and offers coaches automatic reports with actionable insights. Coaches can identify where to lean in and which players need more instruction to improve their performance. We offer the only commercial system that combines impact data with performance metrics to help build better, safer teams.

For more information download our Info Booklet or schedule a demo to see how you can use the system to offer your team a competitive advantage.

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