How to Get Rid of the Fear of Hitting in Football: Tackle Anxiety Like a Pro

Stepping onto the football field can be a rush like no other, but it’s not without its mental hurdles. If the thought of hitting sends shivers down your spine, you’re not alone. It’s a common fear that can hold you back from playing your best game.

But here’s the good news: you can tackle this fear head-on. With the right mindset and techniques, you’ll be making those hits with confidence in no time. Ready to change the game? Let’s dive into how you can leave that fear behind and unleash your full potential on the field.

Understanding the Fear of Hitting

As you set foot on the gridiron, it’s important to acknowledge that the fear of hitting isn’t just a mere obstacle; it’s a very real emotion that can grip even the most seasoned players. You might think it strange, but even I, having played at a high level, felt that churn in my stomach every time contact was imminent. The intensity of modern football, where the collisions can be heard from the stands, has a way of instilling apprehension in many players.

Your fear isn’t unfounded, it’s your body’s response to a perceived threat. Hitting, at football’s core, is about clashing with force, and your mind knows that it can lead to pain or injury. But here’s the thing; fear also means you’re aware, you’re alert, and that’s a good starting point. Awareness is your first step towards conquering fear. Rather than trying to suppress that anxiety, acknowledge it. Recognizing your fear is pivotal in developing strategies to overcome it.

Let’s break down what this fear signals:

  • A survival instinct kicking in to protect your body
  • A natural response aimed at preparing you for impact
  • A mental hurdle that can be cleared with practice and confidence-building

Embrace that nervous energy and channel it into a powerful driving force. With the right mindset, that adrenaline rush can enhance your performance, making you sharper and more reactive on the field. Remember that football is as much about mental fortitude as it is about physical prowess.

I’ve watched countless games and analyzed many players, noting how those who master their fear have something in common: they all visualize success before it happens. Imagine yourself executing perfect tackles and anticipate the positive outcomes. Doing so repeatedly can condition your mind to associate hitting with confidence rather than fear.

The fear of hitting doesn’t have to be your undoing. It’s a shared experience among many athletes, but it also suggests that you care deeply about your performance and safety. This is honorable and shows your commitment to the sport. So, you’ve got this. Keep pushing, stay focused, and let each successful hit build a stronger, more fearless player within you.

The Importance of Overcoming the Fear

Overcoming the fear of hitting is crucial if you’re hoping to excel in football. Picture yourself on the field, where split-second decisions make the difference between a game-winning play and a missed opportunity. Fear can paralyze; it limits your ability to react instinctively, undermining both your performance and your team’s chances for victory.

Remember, football is a game of resilience. It requires a mindset where setbacks are seen as temporary hurdles rather than permanent blockades. Each time you face your fear of hitting head-on, you’re not just building physical toughness but mental fortitude as well. This mental evolution is key in transforming your fear into an asset.

Embracing the challenge of physical contact will also earn you respect from your peers and coaches. They’ll see a player who’s willing to take risks and push limits for the collective goal. This isn’t just about personal growth; it’s about embodying the very spirit of the sport. Football isn’t a game for the hesitant. It’s for the brave, the bold, and those who stand up after being knocked down.

Here’s what you need to focus on:

  • Preparation: Equip yourself with the proper techniques and understanding of the game. Knowledge is power.
  • Training: Condition your body and mind through rigorous practice. The more you simulate game-like scenarios, the more natural your responses will become.
  • Mindset: Foster a positive mental approach. Visualize successful hits and outcomes to reduce anxiety.

With each fearless hit, you’re not just moving the ball forward; you’re also advancing your ability to deal with adversity. This is about more than just getting better at football; it’s about building character and resilience that will be invaluable throughout your life. Isn’t that what sports are truly about? It’s not just the trophies or the accolades—it’s the person you become in pursuit of them.

Building Confidence through Knowledge

As a coach and a former player, you know the game’s ins and outs, and you’ve seen firsthand that knowledge truly is power on the field. When you understand the strategies and the mechanics of tackling and hitting, your confidence naturally starts to grow. It’s not just about the raw physical aspect of the game; it’s about the smarts, too.

Start by studying the fundamentals of proper technique. When you’re well-versed in how to approach each play, your body will follow through with less hesitation. Here’s what you need to focus on:

  • Learn the proper stance: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent and your weight on the balls of your feet.
  • Head up: Always keep your head up to observe the play, anticipate your opponent’s movement, and to ensure safe contact.
  • Wrap up: Make sure to wrap your arms securely around the opponent to control the hit and to minimize the risk of injury for both parties.

Dive into the rules of the game and understand which types of hits are legal and which are not. Illegal hits can have serious penalties and knowing how to avoid them not only keeps the game fair but also safe for everyone. Remember, confidence comes from knowing you’re playing by the book and that you’ve got the skill set to deliver results while protecting yourself and others.

Watching and analyzing games can greatly enhance your understanding of effective techniques. Observe how experienced players position themselves and move. You can learn a lot by watching how they prepare for hits and how they respond after taking one. Break down the plays of professional football players and see how they transform knowledge into action on the field.

Incorporate this knowledge into your practice routines. Drills that simulate real game scenarios can help condition your mind and body to respond without fear. When you repeatedly practice the correct techniques, your muscle memory will take over in game situations, allowing your instincts to guide you.

Keep in mind that while building physical strength is essential, fostering mental resilience is equally critical. Talk to your peers and coaches, ask for advice, learn from your mistakes, and keep refining your technique. You’ll start to notice that with every practice and game, the fear starts diminishing as confidence takes its place. Your knowledge of the game’s physicality becomes your best defense against the anxiety of hitting.

Physical Preparation for Tackling

Physical preparation is a cornerstone of your ability to execute safe and effective tackles on the football field. Your journey towards confidence in hitting begins long before you strap on your helmet. Building your strength and conditioning will not only improve your tackling but also help prevent injuries.

Strength Training

To get your body ready for the rigors of football, you’ll want to focus on compound exercises. These workouts target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which are essential for football players. Here’s what you should consider including in your strength routine:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • Power cleans

Keep track of your progress. As you get stronger, you’ll notice a direct correlation between your physical power and on-field performance.

Plyometrics and Agility Training

Tackling requires more than brute strength; it demands explosiveness and quick directional changes. Integrating plyometrics and agility drills into your training routine can make a world of difference.

Drills to incorporate:

  • Box jumps
  • Ladder drills
  • Cone drills

These exercises will help improve your footwork and your ability to read and react to the movements on the field.


Don’t overlook the importance of cardiovascular conditioning. Being well-conditioned means you can sustain a high level of play throughout the game. Interval training is particularly effective for football players due to its similarity to the stop-and-go nature of the sport.

Include interval runs or sprints in your training to boost your endurance.

Practice Proper Technique

During practice sessions, focus on the fundamentals of tackling technique. The key components include:

  • Proper head position
  • Shoulder contact
  • Wrapping and driving through the tackle

Repeatedly practicing the correct form ensures that when it’s game time, your muscle memory will take over, allowing you to tackle with confidence and minimize the risk for both you and your opponent.

Consistency Is Key

Remember, the best physical preparation is consistent preparation. Your body needs time to adapt and build the muscle memory required for tackling. Stick with your training regimen, be patient, and as your physical prowess grows, so too will your confidence on the field.

Techniques to Improve Tackling Skills

As you edge closer to overcoming your tackling apprehensions, honing your skills through specific techniques is critical. Remember, successful tackling is about form, timing, and execution. Start with the basics: keep your head up, maintain a strong base, and always wrap up. These are the anchors of every safe and efficient tackle.

Drill practices are your best ally in this regard. Here’s a rundown of practices to incorporate in your routine:

  • Breakdown Drills: Focus on approach and stance. As you approach the ball carrier, lower your hips, widen your stance, and prepare to strike. This drill engrains the muscle memory required for a proper tackle.
  • Hit and Lift Drills: Once contact is made, driving through with your legs and lifting the ball carrier off their feet can prevent additional yards. Practice this motion repeatedly to build explosive power.
  • Angle Tackles: Positioning is everything. Practice closes in on a moving target, calculating the angle and timing your hit perfectly.

In addition to these drills, partner exercises can simulate game-like scenarios. Executing tackles with a teammate can improve your comfort and efficacy. Taking part in non-contact tackling techniques using tackling dummies or soft shields can also reduce the risk of injury during practice.

Another cornerstone is film study. It allows you to break down tackling technique frame by frame. Study professional players who excel in tackling and mimic their approach:

  • Observe their footwork and body positioning.
  • Note the point of impact and how they use their arms and shoulders.
  • Analyze their follow-through post-impact.

Focus and repetition will ingrain these techniques into your muscle memory. With each session, you’ll notice a clear improvement in your confidence level and your capability to execute clean, powerful tackles. Keep pushing your limits, refine your technique, and you’ll see the fear of hitting gradually dissipate.

Overcoming Fear in Game Situations

When you step onto the field during a game, it’s important to realize that all the preparation you’ve done is about to be put to the test. Game situations can be unpredictable, and that’s where the mental aspect of football comes into play. You’ve conditioned your body and mastered the fundamentals; now it’s time to toughen your mind.

To begin, always focus on the present moment. Whatever happened in the last play is history. Do not dwell on mistakes or triumphs. Each new play is a fresh start, and maintaining a short memory will keep you centered. Letting go of the past helps to reduce fear and anxiety over what’s to come.

Here are a few strategies to help reinforce your mindset:

  • Visualize success: Before the game, close your eyes and imagine yourself executing perfect tackles. Visualization fortifies your mental rehearsal and primes you for action.
  • Stay positive: Reinforce positive thinking by using affirmations. Tell yourself, “I am strong. I am ready. I can make this tackle.”
  • Breathe: Practice deep breathing to calm nerves. Inhale slowly for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and then wait another four seconds before inhaling again. This helps maintain a steady heart rate and keeps the mind clear.

Remember, your teammates depend on you, and you’re part of a unit. Lean on them and let them lean on you. Building a sense of brotherhood and trust is essential in overcoming fear together. You don’t need to carry the burden alone. When the team functions as one, individuals find more courage to tackle their fears head-on.

During the game, focus on your assignments and the plays you’ve practiced week in and out. Repetition breeds familiarity, and the more familiar you are with your responsibilities, the more automatic your responses will be. This is in the realm of muscle memory, where your body knows what to do even when your mind is grappling with nerves.


You’ve got this! Remember that overcoming the fear of hitting in football is all about preparation and mindset. Stay diligent with your physical training and technique practice. Keep visualizing your success on the field and lean on your teammates when you need that extra boost of confidence. Trust in the muscle memory you’ve built through practice. When game day arrives, you’ll be ready to tackle anything that comes your way—literally. Now go out there and show ’em what you’re made of!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I overcome my fear of hitting in football?

To overcome the fear of hitting in football, focus on physical preparation including strength training and agility work. Ensure you practice proper tackling techniques and mentally prepare by visualizing success, maintaining positivity, using deep breathing, and leaning on your teammates for support.

What kind of physical preparation helps in tackling?

Physical preparation for tackling in football should include strength training, plyometrics, agility training, and overall conditioning. These elements help build the muscle and response mechanisms necessary for effective and safe tackling.

Why is proper technique important in football?

Proper technique is crucial in football, particularly when tackling, to reduce the risk of injury and to make effective plays. It involves fundamentals that ensure safety and effectiveness, which can also help mitigate fear.

How can visualization help football players?

Visualization can help football players overcome fear by allowing them to mentally rehearse successful plays and tackles. This mental practice helps foster confidence and prepares the mind for actual game-time scenarios.

What role do teammates play in overcoming fear on the field?

Teammates play a significant role in overcoming fear by providing emotional support. Sharing experiences and relying on one another for encouragement can bolster an individual player’s confidence and help them perform better.

Is it important to focus on assignments in football?

Yes, focusing on assignments is imperative to success in football. Knowing and executing your role contributes to a well-coordinated team effort. Practicing plays until they become second nature builds muscle memory, aiding in automatic response during games which can reduce anxiety and hesitance.

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