Learn the fundamentals of Rugby style tackling
with the most realistic equipment on the market

Learn from Rugby players on Rugby equipment!

Rugby style tackling has long been identified as a smarter way to tackle due to head position and shoulder tackling. The Shadowman tackling system was designed & engineered by a rugby player to reward correct form tackling.

We call this ShadowTackling - a rugby style tackling approach on Shadowman

ShadowTackling began back in 2010 in Ireland with CEO & Founder , JP Hartigan.
Click here to learn more about beginning of Shadowman.

What are the 3 fundamentals of ShadowTackling?


2 - FIT



As with any techniques or schemes, there are coaching points & phrases that help making teaching that technique easier for players. Below are some of the phrases we are going to use to teach ShadowTackling

'Tight Hands Are Right Hands' | 'Set the Foot to Set the Tackle' | 'Eyes on the Thighs' | 'Lead Foot, Lead Shoulder' | 'Cheek to Cheek' | 'Shoulder Punch' | 'Up & Through' | 'Low to High' | 'Shut the Trap' | 'Center of Gravity' | 'Tackler is the Timer'


The ANGLE is all about how you approach the target, this can be broken down into 3 sub-levels:
- Lead Foot
- Lead Shoulder
- Head Behind

Your first approach to the tackle is going to setup how effective you are in the tackle. If you get your approach right, you become more effective in the tackle, leading to dominance in the tackle, which means you get a higher number of completed tackles. The ANGLE can be broken down to 3 steps:

LEAD FOOT - Planting your lead foot close to your target will allow you to power up & through the tackle. You want your lead foot and lead shoulder to be on the same side in order to generate the most power through the tackle.

LEAD SHOULDER - This should come from your lead foot (i.e. plant your right foot, your right shoulder becomes your lead shoulder). This will allow you to become more dominant in the tackle and to deliver a more effective tackle.

HEAD BEHIND - One of the big differences in Rugby style tackling is the head position. Placing your head behind your target will mean your head is out of the firing line and your shoulder will naturally become the point of contact.

Shadowman has a knee bend to identify the players movement and in turn dictate the head position of the tackler.


Shadowman is the most realistic tackling equipment on the market as it mimics both a players form & movement. Shadowman was designed to teach technique so that's why you will see different features on Shadowman that help with tackling. Shadowman has a bent knee posture to let the tackler know which side to put their head. The will always be behind the knee, to avoid contact on the head and to get a better angle for the shoulder tackle.


The FIT focuses on closing the distance to the target and getting a getting a good shoulder hit & wrap. Some of the key phrases here will be:
- Tight Hands are Right Hands
- Shoulder Punch, then Wrap

The FIT is the next step in making an effective tackle. Once you have aligned your body angle to the target, it's important to close the distance, hit with a shoulder tackle and wrap.

The first element we look at is the hand placement. The phrase we use is 'Tight Hands are Right Hands'. You want to ensure you get a solid wrap, with your elbows tucked in by your hips. What we really want to avoid is swooping (arms out wide) as this results in a weak tackling position, as shown below.

No power can be generated from lunging at your target.

Keeping your hands tight and body angle low gets you into a better power position.

Following on from the ANGLE technique, planting your LEAD FOOT, getting low and striking with your shoulder generates much more power than arching or lungeing towards the target. The next part of the FIT is to wrap your target. It's vital that you shoulder punch first, then wrap. If you wrap first, you cannot generate power through your should punch.

Build confidence on going to ground with a roll after the wrap.

Another step you can include here is a roll at the end of the wrap, this can particularly helpful for youth athletes in gaining confidence of going to ground before moving onto to a full moving tackle to the ground. An added teach point would be to lean the Shadowman into their shoulder so they get used to the face of shoulder hit first before they wrap their arms.


The final step in the tackle is the FINISH. It is vital that your players have completed both ANGLE & FIT before they move onto the FINISH. We recommend starting at a 70% speed at first and then working up to full speed.

The FINISH is the last step in making an effective rugby style tackle. It is vital that your players have a good understanding of the ANGLE & FIT before moving onto the FINISH. Only when they are technically sound on the first 2 steps should you advance to the FINISH.

For this drill, you need 2 players, one to act as the target, the second as the tackler. Start with the target shimmying every 5 yards, this makes the tackler apply the ANGLE technique in their approach. With each shimmy, the tackler should be closing the distance.

Close the distance and implement both ANGLE & FIT

Close the angle & distance to the target and position the body

As the tackler closes the distance, they can implement step 2, the FIT. As they approach, the can practice lining up their body position, positioning their hands, and prepare for the shoulder hit.

Hit with your shoulder before you wrap your arms around the target.

As the tackler makes the final approach, look at how he dips his hips in order to generate power and explode up & through the hit. We recommend running through this on a live target as they can execute right up to this point for simulation. We would recommend using Shadowman when making the full tackle to ground.

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