Seattle hopes tackling video helps teach basics

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — At some point during this past offseason, Pete Carroll decided it was time to make a movie, and it had nothing to do with the Seattle Seahawks winning their first Super Bowl.

Carroll had followed closely the initiatives with USA Football's "Heads Up Football" program to teach young football players the proper techniques for tackling without getting injured. The program has received wide support from the NFL, but Carroll felt there was something there that he could add.

So the coach that once led a college program just a few miles from Hollywood decided to make a film about tackling.

"I thought we had something that could complement their effort," Carroll said. "That's a really nice way of saying I thought we had a better way to help them. We're teaching kids football. It's something that we've done for a long time."

The video produced by Carroll and his staff is based around the premise of tackling with the shoulder and taking the head out of the equation. It lasts a little more than 20 minutes, showing technique, drills and game-action examples of how the Seahawks put these tackling fundamentals to use.

Once it was done, Carroll's video quickly caught the attention of the NFL as another way to keep the game safe without taking away any more of the physicality.

"We've had a lot of cut ups but we never have put it together in that kind of fashion," Carroll said. "We knocked it out in a couple days and put it out there. It got a lot of play I guess, a lot of people saw it; I hope it helps."

What Seattle is teaching is not drastically different than what's been preached in the past, aside from an emphasis on trying to not have the head involved.

The Seahawks' tackling philosophy is that they use leverage and targets on the body of the ball carrier to tackle with their shoulders. Seattle has taken away the old idea of making sure the head of a would-be tackler must get across the face of the ball carrier.

Instead, by targeting the near hip or chest of the ball carrier with the shoulder, wrapping up and then rolling through the tackle, the head stays out of the process.

"I think it makes us more effective. This is the whole thing we talk about having a tackling plan," said Rocky Seto, the Seahawks defensive passing game coordinator who instructed much of the video.

"When you are clear how you're going to tackle, 'I'm going to hit the guy with my right shoulder, whether it's high or low and I'm going to track his hip and follow his hip until I make contact with him.' Where before I have to think, 'How is he moving, I have to get my hat across.' There were more variables there. I think it's helped us become way more effective as tacklers."

Seto is right. According to STATS, Inc., the Seahawks were remarkably efficient during the 2013 regular season giving up just 22 broken tackles.

"I think a lot of tutorial and instruction came from our season just the different type of tackles that we showed during the season," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said.

"We always preach that we're a shoulder tackling team, tracking the near hip, tracking the near (pectoral) and tackle with the shoulder."

The idea for actually producing an instructional video started a few seasons ago when a football coach from England was visiting the Seahawks during the offseason and noted Seattle's tackling technique was essentially the equivalent of a rugby tackle.

It was a realization for Seto and made him want to know more. How can rugby players tackle with efficiency and power, but avoid injury to the head?

That led to meetings and minor tweaks to how they teach. The Seahawks staff spent time with Waisale Serevi, formerly one of the top rugby players in the world who is trying to grow the game in America and lives in the Seattle area.

The video created by the Seahawks has rugby cuts spliced throughout to show the similarities between the tackling they are teaching and the tackling found in rugby.

"It really helped validate what we've been teaching. ... It was more 'Cool, we've been on it.'" Seto said. "Thank God we've been on the right track. These guys have been doing it for years and years."

Carroll said an important validation of the video was getting a call of support from John Madden. Carroll also spoke with Commissioner Roger Goodell about the video, and health and safety officials with the league were impressed with the techniques being taught. Seto said he's been contacted about putting on youth clinics next offseason.

"This is what I told coach (Carroll), with all the national championships and Super Bowl and stuff we've been able to achieve, I think this is going to be our greatest impact for the sport. I really do," Seto said. "Someone is going to win every year. That's great. But how do we keep the game going. I think this is going to be one of coach Carroll's biggest legacies in my opinion."



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