What is Spearing in Football?

Spearing in football is a term that sends shivers down the spines of players and coaches alike. But what exactly is spearing? In simple terms, spearing refers to a dangerous tackling technique where a player leads with their helmet, aiming to strike an opponent forcefully.

This aggressive move may seem powerful, but it poses serious risks and has been a cause for concern in the sport. Let’s dive deeper into the world of spearing, uncover its dangers, and explore safer alternatives for the sake of player safety.

What is Spearing in Football

Spearing can be defined as a tackling technique where a player lowers their head and initiates contact with the crown of their helmet. This technique aims to deliver a powerful blow to the opponent, often with the intent to intimidate or cause injury.

It is characterized by the leading player’s head being lowered and the helmet being the primary point of contact.

How it Differs from Other Tackling Techniques

Spearing differs from other tackling techniques in football, such as proper shoulder tackling or wrap-up tackling. Unlike these safer techniques, spearing involves leading with the helmet rather than using the shoulder or wrapping the arms around the opponent.

This improper technique increases the risk of head and neck injuries for both the player initiating the tackle and the player being tackled.

Potential Risks and Dangers Associated with Spearing

The risks and dangers associated with spearing are significant. The forceful impact of the helmet can result in concussions, spinal cord injuries, and even paralysis.

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Additionally, spearing can lead to long-term brain damage, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been a growing concern in contact sports.

The Mechanics of Spearing

Understanding the mechanics of spearing is crucial in comprehending why it is considered a dangerous tackling technique in football.

Let’s break down the step-by-step process of spearing, discuss the importance of proper body positioning and targeting, and highlight the significance of using the correct form and technique to prevent injuries.

Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Spearing Technique

  1. Lowering the Head: The player initiating the tackle lowers their head, positioning it in front of their body.
  2. Leading with the Helmet: Instead of using the shoulder, the player leads with their helmet, aiming to strike the opponent with force.
  3. Absence of Arm Wrap: Unlike safer tackling techniques, spearing lacks the element of wrapping the arms around the opponent, which reduces the ability to control and minimize the impact.

Proper Body Positioning and Targeting

Proper body positioning and targeting play a vital role in safe tackling. Instead of leading with the helmet, players should focus on leading with the shoulder, maintaining a square stance, and keeping their heads up.

Additionally, targeting the opponent’s midsection or waist area, rather than the head or neck, can help reduce the risk of severe injuries.

Importance of Proper Form and Technique to Prevent Injuries

Using the correct form and technique is crucial to prevent injuries associated with spearing. Emphasizing the importance of keeping the head up, using the shoulder as the primary point of contact, and wrapping the arms around the opponent promotes safer tackling.

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By employing proper form and technique, players can reduce the risk of concussions, spinal injuries, and other serious consequences.

Player Safety and Rule Changes

Ensuring player safety is a top priority in football, leading to the introduction of rule changes aimed at discouraging spearing. Referees and officials play a crucial role in penalizing spearing, while player education and awareness contribute to a safer playing environment.

Rule Changes to Discourage Spearing

Football organizations have implemented rule changes to address the issue of spearing. These changes emphasize player safety by penalizing players who engage in this dangerous tackling technique.

Stricter penalties, including fines and suspensions, serve as deterrents, discouraging athletes from resorting to spearing during games.

Role of Referees and Officials in Penalizing Spearing

Referees and officials play a fundamental role in enforcing the rules and penalizing spearing incidents. Their vigilant observation of the game allows them to identify and flag any instances of spearing, ensuring that players are held accountable for their actions.

By penalizing spearing, referees and officials create a safer playing environment and send a clear message that dangerous tackling techniques will not be tolerated.

Importance of Player Education and Awareness

Educating players about the dangers of spearing and promoting safer alternatives is crucial in preventing its occurrence. Coaches, trainers, and organizations invest in player education programs that emphasize proper tackling techniques.

By raising awareness and imparting knowledge about the risks associated with spearing, players are better equipped to make informed decisions on the field.


1: What are the potential consequences of spearing? 

Spearing can result in severe head and neck injuries, including concussions, spinal cord injuries, and even paralysis. It poses a significant risk to both the player executing the tackle and the player being tackled.

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2: How is spearing penalized in football? 

Spearing is penalized in football with strict penalties, including fines and suspensions. Referees and officials closely monitor the game to identify instances of spearing and enforce the rules to ensure player safety.

3: What are the alternatives to spearing in tackling? 

Safer tackling techniques, such as shoulder tackling and wrap-up tackling, are alternatives to spearing. These techniques involve using the shoulder and proper form to make contact with the opponent, reducing the risk of head and neck injuries.

4: How can player education help prevent spearing? 

Player education plays a vital role in preventing spearing. By raising awareness about the dangers of spearing and promoting safer tackling techniques, players can make informed decisions on the field and prioritize their own safety and the safety of others.


Player safety should always be the top priority in football. By emphasizing the need for safer tackling techniques and encouraging players, coaches, and fans to prioritize safety, we can create a game that is both thrilling and safe for everyone involved. Let’s make player safety our number one goal.

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