Chris Merritt, head football coach at Miami Christopher Columbus High School, is among head football coaches with NFL, collegiate, high school and youth experience — as well as a leading sport psychologist — who have been selected for USA Football’s Tackle Advisory Committee, the first committee of its kind to benefit America’s youth football community.
The group of experts, including former NFL head coach Jim Mora and current Northwestern University head coach Pat Fitzgerald, helps youth coaches teach tackling fundamentals and strengthen player safety on a national level through USA Football resources.
The five-member committee has assisted in developing a tackle progression model — a step-by-step process for youth coaches to teach tackling fundamentals in proper order. The tackle progression and its drills were created by USA Football, the sport’s national governing body in the United States. USA Football’s tackle progression model further strengthens player safety and identifies ways to build confidence in youth players by appropriately introducing them to contact.
In his 11-year tenure at Columbus, Merritt has led the school to seven district titles and four undefeated regular seasons (2005, ’07, ’08 and ’10). He has been either the head coach or an assistant on the past three U.S. Under 19 National Teams in football. He played collegiate football as a defensive back at Indiana University from 1988 to 1993.
“We’re proud to unite these experts in football and sports psychology to help youth coaches best teach the fundamentals of tackling through our coaching courses, events and other resources,” said Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football executive director. “Better coaches develop fundamentally sound players who perform better on the field and enjoy a safer and fun football experience.”
Material approved by the committee will be integrated within USA Football’s online certified tackle coaching course and other membership resources, including a virtual instructional “film room” and a drills library on usafootball.com.
Approximately 3 million American children ages 6-14 play organized tackle football, making it one of America’s most popular youth sports. About 415,000 American adults volunteer their time to coach youth football.