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Trusted Coaches Tips of the Week from USA Football Master Trainer Terry Donovan

Trusted Coaches and USA Football partnership

Trusted Coaches,

Football season is now upon us!  My name is Terry Donovan and I am a Master Trainer with USA Football and the Offensive Coordinator of Kason Mantorville High School in Minnesota.  This is the first in our weekly articles to help you, our members with tips for the season to help you and your players develop.    Being a USA Football Master Trainer, one of the biggest focal points is tackling.

Teaching drills with the proper techniques give us a safety advantage versus the days we grew up when we were taught to “get our heads across.”  Now, we know that teaching kids technique through non contact progression  we  can help them remain safer, be better tacklers and have a lot of success while doing it.

Defense has always been taught with leverage in mind.  Even if you have not thought about it, you probably all have been coaching it.  Everyone has a contain player, a defensive end or linebacker that maintains outside leverage and turns the play back in.

From there many of us have always trained our inside linebackers to pursue the back hip of the ball carrier and not get over the top of the ball carriers to give them a cut back lane.  These are forms of leverage.

Tackling is now talked about in these same forms.  We tacklers to track the near hip of the ball carrier. Depending on leverage – that could be the front or back hip, while mimicking the carrier’s footwork and breakdown in order to finish the play.

All of us should have now fulfilled our USA Football requirements and have access to our account which is loaded with great videos and all kinds of information.  For any teams that are starting out this week we will look at a tackling circuit to put your teams through.  Whether a nose guard or a defensive back, we want to teach them all how to tackle.  Your whole team can do these drills at the youth level to build confidence in tackling and even develop more athleticism.

Divide your team into 4 groups and you can have a coach at each of the four stations and rotate your players through at 5 minutes.  That is 20 minutes of defense and tackling that you can do before you even put the pads on.


By using the resources we have these days, we are in a great position to change the game for the better.  For any teams starting this week, good luck!   We will be back next week to talk a little practice planning.

Looking forward to connecting with you!

My best,

Terry Donovan
USA Football Master Trainer