Richie Gray – Background

Richie Gray, CEO and founder of Global Sports Innovation (GSI), has become one of the most sought after Elite Skills Contact Coaches in World Rugby today.

Over the past seven years, GSI – through the innovation of technical training aids for Rugby Union, Rugby League and American Football – has changed the way players and coaches prepare and train the areas of ‘Tackle, Collision and Contact’, with an emphasis on specific techniques.

Gray states:

“The sports of American Football, Rugby Union and Rugby League are all intrinsically linked – they are all faced with massive challenges due to the health and safety of their players. Concussion and impact injuries have been well documented, especially in recent years, and one of the key ways to assist in reducing this is in the way we prepare our athletes. We must increase technical mastery and thus increase player performance which in turn will reduce the risk of injury.”

GSI have already created world leading technical training aids for the Rugby Union and League markets. These are being used by international, professional and club sides and organisations worldwide.

Gray holds a BEd (Hons) Degree in Physical Education, majoring in Skill Acquisition. He then spent 12 years working for The Scottish Rugby Union in Game Development and Coach Education, Analysis and Professional Coaching. In 2013, Gray became an Assistant Coach to The Springboks for the Rugby Championship and Northern Hemisphere Tour, concentrating on the attacking and defensive breakdown/collision area, and worked with the South African national side right through to the Rugby World Cup in 2015. He also carried out all the contact skills work for the Blitzboke South Africa Sevens Team from 2013 to 2016.

Since then, Gray has been the Contact Skills Consultant to the Scottish National Rugby Team being involved in two Six Nations Championships and the November Test Series in 2016.

In 2017 Gray will consult to top 14 French club, Montpellier Herault, as their Contact/Skills coach.

Click image above to watch interview with Richie Gray

Tackle Development in Football

In 2016, after 4 years of development, Gray created technical training aids specifically designed for use in the development and coaching of the tackle area in American Football. The system was first used by the Miami Dolphins throughout the 2016-17 season where Gray also acted as a Consultant. The training aids allowed the players to work continually throughout the season on key technique and skill development relating to the tackle area, while taking away the 'player on player' contact that had been used in the past and which could result in injury outwith actual game time.


Wayne Diesal – Sports Performance Director at Miami Dolphins states:

“Going forward, the reliance upon specific technical training aides to assist in coaching 'contact' within collision sports globally will only increase. This is not only primarily due to the duty of care we have towards our athletes but also the pursuit of excellence in performance. As a result, there is a need to find/create more innovative tackle-specific ways of preparing our players for the demands of the modern game. The Gray Tackle System has been developed to facilitate this and allows individual technique to be developed and maintained within the whole tackle area, resulting in this system becoming an integral part of our training and preparation.”

Key Coaching Principles

The Gray Tackle System allows you to train at different tackle levels i.e. Level 1 - Ankle to Knee, Level 2 - Knee to Hip, Level 3 - Hip to Pec. The technical training aids have been developed to bring about key technique relating to all the tackles a player may be faced with e.g. All Shoulder Tackle options, Profile Tackle, Thigh and Roll, Thigh and Drive etc. The equipment has been developed so that it is set at different heights and weights which therefore creates a degree of difficulty depending on the training aid being used - the aim is to create the player who is a ‘Multi-Purpose Tackler’.

Currently USA Football and The Seattle Seahawks have been promoting the ‘Shoulder Tackle’ which has been backed up with an excellent coach education programme. The ‘Gray Tackle System’ will complement the coaching and player development in this area, allowing the coach and player to work with technical training aids that can assist in the development of the whole tackle technique in a safe and structured manner.

Training Aid Principles

Today, Richie Gray is regarded as one of the foremost thinkers of coaching methods relating to the tackle, breakdown and collision areas and as a result his company GSI is at the forefront of changing the mindset behind technical training aids for collision sports.

Gray’s highly effective training aid principles are:

  • You must create training aids that make the athlete replicate the key movement patterns that happen within the chosen sport to improve his/her performance.
  • The training aid must give the athlete feedback.
  • The training aid must challenge the athlete physically and mentally at all times to be accurate in execution. This can be achieved through the specific weight, design and function of the training aid.
  • Training aids cannot be seen as an easy option, they must always hold a degree of difficulty relating to key movement patterns – remember if it does not challenge you, it won’t change you.
  • In many ways, you can’t beat ‘live’ practice but as coaches we also have a duty of care to our athletes. Using these training aids helps refine technique and work to a level of fatigue first before going ‘live’.
  • As a coach, to move your athlete forward, you must be able to coach and perfect the key principles of technique and fundamental detail that relate to the specific movements within that sport.

Gray states:

“As part of this system is already being successfully used in the development of tackle and collision techniques worldwide within Rugby Union and League, and has been proven to make a difference, it made perfect sense to continue to develop the technical training aids to create a complete system targeted specifically for Football.”

The ‘Gray Tackle System’ is available in both Senior and Junior ranges in the US & Canada and the UK & Europe.

The Gray Tackle SystemTM  is covered by UK patent pending (GB1608971.6; GB 1617949.1); UK Registered Design No’s ( GB6001234 - GB6002018 - GB6001225 - GB6001226 - GB6006534)

US Pat. Pending (US15334190; US 29/599933)


“The Tackling equipment is the best I’ve used in my 16yrs playing football. It forces you to use different angles, levels and techniques to perfect each tackling position. The equipment allows you to work your impact, wrap and shoulder placement without any bone on bone collisions, which is crucial in a day and age where head injuries and player safety is at the forefront”

Mike Hull

Miami Dolphins; College – Pen State

“The Gray Tackle System helped me take that extra step, instead of launching at my target. They also helped me focus on bringing my arms with my hips and not having flying arms like ‘Superman’. This helped me to lead the League in Special Team tackles in 2016”

Michael Thomas

Miami Dolphins – San Francisco 49rs; College – Stanford

“The System allowed me to train consistently on key areas of my tackle technique throughout the season which brought about accuracy and improved performance”

Kiko Alonso

Miami Dolphins – Buffalo Bills – Philadelphia Eagles; College – Oregon

“The Gray Tackle System training equipment allowed me to continually develop my tackle accuracy and technique – isolating different levels of tackle, in a safe and controlled environment, throughout my training week leading up to going “live” on game day”

Spencer Paysinger

Miami Dolphins – New York Giants; College – Oregon

“Richie Gray’s equipment will be the difference maker in any football program from youth football to the NFL. This is the most innovative and game changing equipment invented in the last 40 years. If you are a coach at any level; and you are serious about saving this great game you need to teach the Rugby tackle with this equipment. The players will love it. Their mothers will love it. Your administrators and school boards will love it. Coaches will love it because it trains players to be more efficient tacklers in the safest way possible. I have been coaching for 42 years. I have had the good fortune to have coached at every level of football from Junior High to the NFL. It’s hard to believe that it took this long to find such great equipment. Thank you Richie Gray”

Ken O’Keefe

Current Iowa Hawkeyes Quarterback Coach – Miami Dolphins – Fordham Rams – Allegheny Gators

“Using the Gray Tackle System equipment last season was a major advantage for our squad. The weight and dimension of the equipment forces players to attack with sound technique and pace. Having a series of training aids that self-reinforce proper technique allows us to train hard and smart year-round”

Mike Wahle

High Performance Dept. Miami Dolphins - Green Bay Packers – Carolina Panthers – Seattle Seahawks; College – Navy

“Using the technical training equipment throughout the 2016-17 season improved my accuracy and technique in developing all different types of tackle - frontal - side tackles and tracking back, the good thing about this kit is that you can use it daily, as it does not mean you have to train as much in a live situation until you come to Game Day”

Jelani Jenkins

Oakland Raiders – Miami Dolphins; College – Florida

“The important thing for me as a player is the Tackle System allows me to go full on 100% every time you use it, working against the different levels and weights of each bag, in this way reinforcing my technique without going live, always keeping my Tackle technique accurate and game-ready”

Neville Hewitt

Miami Dolphins; College – Marshall

“As a player I have always enjoyed live practice, but you also have to be smart on how you get through your training week. The Gray Tackle System allows players to constantly reinforce good practice, if the player is not accurate, the equipment will beat you. The key for me is it reinforces technique on every hit and gets me ready for game-day”

Donald Butler

University of Washington - San Diego Chargers - Arizona Cardinals - Miami Dolphins