By Doug Samuels
Posted on March 2, 2016
Yesterday, the Ivy League announced that its member schools will no longer be allowed to tackle during practice once the season starts.
That may be a monumental change for some programs, but it won’t be anything new for Dartmouth. Buddy Teevens told Dan Patrick on air this morning that his program hasn’t tackle live during practice in five years and he and his staff have turned that into part of their recruiting pitch, telling recruits that they will “never tackle one of their teammates in their four of five years on campus” . Last year, Teevens made a splash with the introduction of Dartmouth’s Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), a groundbreaking mobile pop-up dummy that can simulate a ball carrier, or a second level defender for offensive lineman to practice their cut blocks on.
When I saw Teevens speak at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association a few weeks ago as part of the Practice Like the Pros speaking circuit, he said when he first told his defensive coordinator of the no-tackling policy he looked back at him like he was crazy.
It didn’t take long for him to see the benefits though. Teevens told Dan Patrick and his crew that after their first season implementing the changes, missed tackles at Dartmouth dropped “literally 50%.” Let that sink in for a second. No live tackling, only dummies, and immediate results. Think of how much better your program would have been last season if you could have cut your missed tackles in half.
When asked if they practice tackling at Dartmouth, Teevens responded, “We do. A lot of high schools do a wonderful job, but to hone skills and keep them sharp. The hard thing is, it’s the most injurious skill on the football field, and it is practiced the least as a result.”
“By doing it with bags, we become a lot more consistent, and a lot more confident by player. And actually, the first season we went to this we dropped our missed tackles literally 50%. We cut them in half.”
Asked if the new Ivy League policy is something that the NCAA should adopt nationally, Teevens shared, “I think coaches are the ones that have to drive the change.”
“I tell coaches that either we change the way that we coach the game, or we won’t have a game to coach. I think that if everyone just stepped away from the paranoia about taking things away and just said, ‘Do we really need this much contact?’ The NFL and people say that they are better athletes, well yeah, but tackling is like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it. If we just didn’t do it as frequently, statistically the highest number of concussions occur during practice.”