Alrighty! This is about 1,000 words of my view on safe and effective tackling. This is by no means the official view of the IQA and it may not align with what you believe is best.
Tackling is the one of the most awe-inspiring and concussion-inducing aspects of quidditch. It’s every captain or coach’s job to whittle it down to just awe-inspiring.
The best and safest tackling form I have found in quidditch involves what I call “The Board.” The Board is the triangular area on your shoulder between your collarbone, trapezius muscle, and your neck. The Board is where you make initial contact with your body into the opponent’s body.
*It’s important to note that making initial contact with your head or shoulder (at least the bony protrusion of it) or anything below it on the arm is unsafe for the tackler. Also, do not lead with your neck. It should make little initial contact.
Teaching the Board to your players is as simple as using a flat piece of wood or sturdy cardboard and placing it flat on their Board. That way, the player can recognize the points of contact on their shoulder and situate their bones and muscles to produce the most flat surface area. I use my coach’s clipboard to demonstrate the board, and have the player adjust their bodies. The Board should make initial contact below the opponent’s shoulder but above their waist.
The second part of the tackle is head, broom, and foot placement.
- The head should NOT be the initial point of contact, but should be in front of the offensive player’s momentum. A good place I tell my players to put their head is right around the sternum of the offensive player and, as you tackle, you should be looking up as much as possible. Lowering your head in a “charging bull” type pose leaves entirely too much room for neck and spinal injuries.
- The broom should also be in front of the offensive player. The broom is basically your center of gravity on the roll axis. Having a broom in front of the offensive player’s momentum serves as a leverage point between your thighs, which contain some of the strongest muscles in your body. This will take some of the momentum out of the offensive player and transfer it to the broom.
- When stepping into a tackle, is also important to have your forward foot in front of the offensive player. That is, if you’re tackling someone from their left as the move forward, your left foot should be in front of them at the point of contact.
The third part is body positioning.
- Your knees should be bent more than your back is. Many players will come up against someone shorter than them. It is extremely important that you do not bend at the waist and neck to accommodate them, but bend your knees to allow for the height difference. I’m 6’4”, but I can still get low enough to tackle our shortest player by bending my knees.
- Your back and spine should be at a about a 45-degree angle to the ground. It is not parallel to the ground and it is also not perpendicular to it. The power of your tackle is coming from your legs and hips, so your back should be a straight line from your hips to the point of contact.
- Stance is also very important. When having your driving foot in front of the player, it should NOT be inline with your back foot. Your feet should still be around shoulder width apart, but with one stepping forward. Having this firm base will help prevent the offensive player from running over you as you attempt to tackle.
- Your non-broom arm should be completing the wrap around the back of the offensive player. If possible, try and wrap the opponent’s broom or throwing arm in your tackle. Hold on for dear life and squeeze their torso into your Board.
- As mentioned before, the power from your tackle comes from your hips and legs. To maximize the potential of the tackle, don’t just wrap and stand still while wondering what to do. KEEP DRIVING your feet and hips towards the player until the tackle is completed or the player has passed the ball.
- Taking a tackle safely is just as important as giving one safely. Most of the time, an offensive player will be upright and looking for a passing option. But in the case of the player being prepared to get tackled, it is important to remember that you cannot lower your shoulder or your head. Just yesterday in practice, one of my players was a dummy in a tackling drill but lowered his head at the last second into the tackler and sent him to the hospital with a concussion. It is illegal to lower your shoulder into a tackle, and that is why.
- A good way to make sure your back and hips are placed correctly is to tell your players “booty out!” Bending your knees and making your butt pronounced will give your back a good angle and help with your wide stance.
Tackle Form -
Starting with this very simple drill, have everyone partner up and stand in two lines facing their partners. One by one, have a pair step into their partner to form a wrap. Have them hold the position until you come by and give them critiques on their positioning.
Form Drive –
Once your players have the position of the board and other body parts down, give them more space between their partners. Have them walk into their partner while taking care of placing their feet correctly. Continue to increase the distance so they can time their steps at different intervals. Once you are confident in their abilities, have each side of the line take turns driving their partner from the midfield line to the keeper line. Dummies should start off giving little resistance, but can increase at your discretion.
Bull In The Ring –
Have your players form a circle around one other player. They should be spaced out using their wingspans. Have the “bull” start chopping their feet while you choose a player from the circle come at them. The bull should turn to face them as the tackling player properly wraps and drives the bull until they are out of the ring. Once that is accomplished, the tackler is the new bull.
It is important that every player pays attention to you so they can see who you point and blow your whistle at. At this point, and minor transgressions in tackling form should halt the drill and be pointed out, as the full-speed nature of the drill leaves little room for mistakes.
TL;DR - Head in front, broom in front, booty out, and look up.