If you want to play good defense, learning to tackle well is essential. Even if you only play offense, learning to tackle properly can make all the difference after an interception or a fumble. If you watch professional football, you will see a lot of incredible hits, while the announcers talk about how players have forgotten how to tackle.

In truth, effective tackles may be flashy enough to make the highlight reel, but they can make all the difference on the scoreboard. The object of a tackle is to bring the opposing player down while minimizing the risk to yourself and your opponent. Proper tackling breaks down into six steps:

1. Eyes on the Target

Before you can tackle your opponent, you have to know where they are. Keep your head up and your eyes on your opponent while you get ready to make your move.

2. Aim for the Legs

When you tackle, aim for the legs. Ideally, your shoulders will hit your opponent on the thigh pad.

3. Keep Your Back Straight

When your back is straight, all the power of your legs goes straight into your opponent. If you bend or twist your back, you not only lose power, you increase your chances of being injured.

4. Wrap it Up

Tackling is about much more than making a big hit. A spectacular hit is worthless if your opponent bounces off of you and keeps running. As you tackle the other player, wrap both arms around them and hold tight.

5. Pull Them In

Now is the time to do your best impression of an octopus. Use your arms to pull your opponent closer to you.

6. Use Your Legs

Finally, keep pushing with your legs. They are the strongest muscles in your body; use that strength to keep your opponent off balance and drive him into the ground.

When it is done well, tackling may not look spectacular, but you can take pride in your effort as you’re hoisting the championship trophy.