Interviewing Andy Ryland, USA Football’s Tackling Expert

By USA Football

USA Football Tackling Expert Andy Ryland, one of the leaders of the Advanced Tackling System, answers questions about the innovative safety practice.

What should coaches expect to get from USA Football’s Advanced Tackling System?

Depth, a lens, a filter.

This system gives coaches a unique way to look at, evaluate and coach any type of tackle. No matter what your team is doing in tackling currently or what may be your preferred type of tackle or style, this will give you a new way of thinking about and dissecting it. This system will help you find Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and help your players understand what is required to be their best in that skill.

I think coaches who learn about the system really look at tackles differently and have a critical eye for detail, looking at what was good, and what could have been done better, regardless of outcome.

 What exactly is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and what does it mean when coaches are teaching skills, whether that’s tackling or something else?

KPIs are items that are most commonly associated with positive outcomes.

In the tackle, these are items that — through research and film study — are most aligned with a great tackle. Within the big skill of tracking and tackling, a coach might say something like “balance and foot placement” with “dominate contact angles.” If a player can hit those items in the process for the tackle, their chances for success go up. I often tell coaches that KPIs are what “great” looks like. They are the little things great tackles have in common from a technical standpoint.

The Advanced Tackling System seems to have a lot of details, is it too late to start using it for results this post-season?

Not at all, that’s the beauty of the system, it meets you where you are.

Coaches can start to implement it at any time because it is not a copy-and-paste, replace your old system thing. It really was built to sit on top of whatever your current framework is. Coaches may hear a few coaching terms or KPIs they really like and can just start using them in practice. The system becomes part of their integrated language without needing a big kickoff presentation explaining “this is now how we do things”.

Coaches can start by stealing little bits and phrases to instruct their players on key areas where they aren’t doing as well. They can use the core language to identify key coaching points and some of the drills to fix the problem.

That’s the best part – it makes improving and communicating about tackle performance simple and easy.

Many youth leagues are considering adding flag football. Hhow can a high school coach work with those coaches to teach proper tackling through flag pulling?

Flag football can teach some of the core elements of tackling.

I see a lot of transfer and flag can be a great entry point for young players. The Tracking and Prepare aspect of tackling are vital parts of the flag game. In both flag and tackle, a player needs to track the near hip, keep leverage and close the space. Also, as you near the runner, a player needs to come to balance, lower your center of gravity and get your feet right. The difference is instead of connecting with our shoulder, we are connecting our hand to a flag.

Coming to balance before a tackle with good posture to get the flag and grasp it is similar to loading the hips for a full tackle.

Where should coaches go to learn more about the Advanced Tackling System?

They can visit to subscribe, and they can register for free access to 3 lessons as well to try it out.