Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room RB Alvin Kamara’s (Saints) Tackle-Breaking And Contact-Balance

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines the precision behind Saints running back Alvin Kamara’s tackle-breaking and contact-balance. 

I’m not a football skills coach, but I watch enough runners that I notice patterns that the best running backs display. Many of you watch enough to do the same—I’m simply in a position to articulate them.

Alvin Kamara has special balance that’s also due in part to his spatial awareness and ability to visualize his steps and the movement of his body as opponents disrupt the uniformity of his stride. This play below against the Texans in the Saints’ 2019 opener illustrates numerous things about Kamara’s balance and tackle-breaking:

  • Kamara, like many runners, runs on the balls of his feet and rarely plants the middle or bottom of his feet to the turf.
  • If Kamara plants the middle of his foot or heel to the ground, he usually makes initial contact with the turf with the ball of his foot.
  • Planting on the balls of your feet enhances the ability to flex at the ankles and knees.
  • It also enhances turns and spins as well as acceleration and jumping.
  • Running on the balls of the feet also enhance the runner’s ability to lift the feet quicker.
  • Kamara, like a lot of good tackle breakers, lifts the heel towards his rear end to work through wraps to his lower legs rather than pull.
  • You’ll often see the toes pointed straight towards the ground as the runner lifts through reaches and wraps as if the runner is trying to kick his heels to his butt.
  • When hit during this stride with enough force that it moves his body sideways, notice how Kamara tries to get the planted foot off the ground so the position of his legs isn’t reshaped with the feet in the ground. Instead, Kamara would rather take the hit and have the force reshape his frame in mid-stride so he can land in a more balanced position.
  • It’s easier to visualize where the feet will land when the body is reshaped by contact while the feet are off the ground.

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