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Under 9`s rugby, fear of tackling!

I coach under 9`s rugby and a lot of the kids have a bad fear of tackling, they lack the confidence to get stuck in. What is the best thing to help them overcome this?

Hi Andy, Obviously it's all about confidence! I faced this last year as now U10s coach at Reading RFC. Best thing I can recommend is wrestling within a square grid of approx 3 metes sqaure. Players take turns in twos and have to adopt a low "power stance" - square hips/shoulders, chin off chest, looking through eyebrows and they can only engage above the knees and below the sholderline and have to wrestle/push each other out of the grid. Worked a trat for me last season and have recommended it to our current U9s as a confidence builder. Note the "smaller" lads take on the "bigger" lads after a few gos! Obviously the core skill of tackling and safety with mouthguards etc must be in place first but I assume you have done this and it's a confidence thing. Let me know how you go. Regards, Dave

Thanks Dave, I will give it a go and let you know. Regards Andy

Hi Andy, I have a few suggestions below...

1) Rather than streaming your groups the traditional way (by 'pairing up with someone of your own size') separate them by their tackling competence. Don't worry if you get the groups wrong first time, you can always revise. This will avoid further confidence degradation when a good tackler smashes a reluctant one...

2) Before the usual progressions of standing, walking, jogging etc first have the ball-carrier walking backwards or backing away from the tackler. You'll be amazed at how easy it makes the tackle and how quickly confidence builds...

3) Taking as read all the necessary 'safety' issues concerning head position etc, the best tacklers are those that get 'up close' and really commit to the tackle. Young players can be reluctant at first to get in so close and some one-on-one warm-up wrestling activities are a good way to break down these barriers...

Hope this helps

The Rugby Doctor

Gents Have tried the above and they work a treat, thanks for the great words of wisdom

hi i play rugby for my local side and i was scared stiff about tackling when i started. People used to knock me down all the time. I suggest some 2 or 3 on 1 tackling to get your players involved. When there is more in the tackle players are usualy more confident. Slowly they will become confident enough to be able to tackle by themselves.

i have already answed but another tp is to split them into ability groups. Also do not make the runner run as hard at first.

Let me know how you go on

Good luck

Hello All,


Thanks to all the suggestions to the tackling, all have been tried, especially the wrestling, thanks Dave from Reading and there has been a superb increase in confidence and tackling ability.

Regards Andy

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  • or access our tried and tested plans