5 Defensive Tackle Tips

Here are 5 defensive tackle tips that will make you both a good run stopper and a good pass rusher.  Follow these and find that greatness will follow on the field.

  1. Use your hands. The big advantage that defensive linemen have over offensive linemen is that they can grab, pull and yank with their hands. If the guy across from you does it (and gets caught), it’s holding and a 10-yard penalty, but you can do it all day long and you should use this to your advantage. Being able to maneuver around that slow offensive lineman will be a key to your success, so using your hands is a good defensive tackle tip.
  2. Fire off the ball quickly. Another essential defensive tackle tip is to be quick off the ball. Keep your eye on the ball and as soon as the center snaps it (go on this motion and not the quarterback’s voice, as the quarterback will try to get you to jump offside with a “hard” count) make contact with your opponent before he does so with you. Use your hands to hit him in the chest to knock him off balance and give yourself the leverage advantage.
  3. Stay low. It’s an old saying in football that “low man wins.” Down in the trenches it’s all about leverage, and an important defensive tackle tip is to stay under your man so you can keep him from controlling you and pushing you where he wants. Even if he outweighs you by 100 pounds, keeping well-balanced and low to the ground will give you an advantage.
  4. Eyes in the backfield. You need to know if the play is a pass or a run and if a run, which way the ball is going. You’ll only know this by keeping your head up and your eyes in the backfield as you fight with your opponent, a very important defensive tackle tip. If the ball comes your way, be prepared to throw the offensive lineman to the side (or shove him into the hole the runner is trying to get to) and square up to prepare for the tackle.
  5. Pass rushing techniques. If the quarterback has dropped back to pass, you need to do your darndest to get to him. This defensive tackle tip is to perfect a few techniques commonly used to get passed your opponent, such as the “swim” move, the club, the spin, and the bull rush. Don’t rely on the same one every time, but mix them up so you can keep that offensive lineman worried about what’s coming next.


Arnsparger, Bill. Arnsparger’s Coaching Defensive Football.  CRC Press, 1998.

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