Choosing the Right Tackling Equipmentby Neil Jennings
Coaching drills are a vital part of rugby training and help players improve their on-the-pitch performance and build up a strong defense. Training with tackle bags will be a central part of all clubs’ training sessions, as they help players to perfect skills and build up strength and agility. To practice tackling techniques and keep the risk of training injuries as low as possible, there is a range of equipment available which helps players to improve skills and, most importantly, train safely off the pitch before a big game.
If you’re on the receiving end of a tackle during training you need to ensure that you are fully protected, using a shield. The shield is held in the hand of a coach or fellow player and allows the tackler to drive against the person holding the shield safely.
There are a range of shields available for the different types of tackle, including wrap-around shields, which offer protection from all angles during tackling training, curved-hit shields, which are designed to help players develop clearing out techniques at all levels of the game, and rucking shields, which are constructed with heavy duty PVC covers and foam inners to absorb maximum impact.
There are also some new tackle shields on the market to help improve tackling techniques, including the Dominant Contact Shields, which have been developed by Andre Bester (SA) with Centurion Rugby. These revolutionary shields will specifically train players to create turnovers at the tackle, generate fast ruck ball, improve counter rucking and remove ruck traffic, practice good body position, stay on their feet during contact, slow down opposition balls, improve decision making during contact and ultimately reduce the risk of injury. Overall, training with one of the Dominant Contact Shields will allow players to perfect ball presentation techniques.
For players wanting to improve advanced technique, the Tackle-Tech Shield has been specifically designed for the development of correct tackling technique. Created by ex-Rugby League Professional, Ryan Sheridan, with Centurion Rugby, the unique shield trains players to improve their ability to develop a good solid powerful body positioning when making tackles, producing a tackling technique that is strong, powerful, effective and efficient, whilst also being safe. The Tackle-Tech Shield develops dip and hit technique and close-in footwork, and encourages correct head positioning, shoulder contact and target area, allowing coaches to identify good and bad technique safely.
Tackle Bags are widely used during training and warm-up, allowing players to perfect their tackling skills safely. Held loosely by another person, the tackle bag stands on the ground and allows players to practice tackles from all angles. Made from heavy-duty PVC covers, with solid foam cores, the padded equipment allows teams to tackle without potentially injuring a team mate during training.
A Tackle Tube is a moving target, which helps players improve tackling techniques with total safety. Particularly popular with mini and junior players, the Tackle Tube is an inflatable ring that can be moved at all speeds and angles to suit all levels, providing dynamic tackling practice. It allows players to accurately judge distance, speed, impact and timing when tackling, develop better technique, agility and fitness, and target all tackles; front-on, side-on and from behind.
Tackle Suits have become even more popular in recent training sessions, particularly amongst professional clubs who train several times a week. The suit allows for more aggressive contact during training without the risk of injury. Using Lycra for flexibility and comfort, the lightweight suit has a close fit to allow for free movement of the arms and upper body, not hindering movement and allowing players to train at game speed. Featuring 17 strategically placed pads stitched into the stretch fabric, the suit protects the upper arm, shoulders, base of neck, rib cage, collarbone, sternum, kidneys and abdominal.