Defensive Backs are known for their explosive speed and lightning-fast reaction time. These two skills come in handy when you talk about stopping wide receivers in their tracks. These football drills are quite spot on when it comes to covering ” Double Routes “, or the scenario when Wide Receivers try to double-cross you by attempting more than one trick in a single run of play. Defensive Backs are expected to be on their toes while disposing of their defensive duties so that they can react almost instantaneously.
These defensive back drills are meticulously crafted to make players practice in game-like situations so that they can make quick decisions when they actually are on the playing field.
It’s talked over and over that speed is an indispensable element in a defensive back’s game but one thing which is even more important is harnessing your speed to your advantage, using it at the right moment. This defensive back drill will improve your ability to make quick changes in direction and overspeeding.
These defensive back drills are made to provide you with an understanding of how to blanket the Wide receivers when they try to double-cross or fool you. Before moving onto the top drills for defensive backs let us try to figure out the major challenges a Defensive Back has to face while disposing of his defensive duties.
Major Challenges Faced by Defensive Backs on the playing field:
- Contesting for balls in the air against receivers much bigger in size than you. In such cases, there is always a possibility that you’d lose hold of the ball. Moreover, you will be caught out of position because of the time you would take to regain your defensive position. So it’s like a two-edged sword to contest for balls in the air.
- Attempting rough physical challenges, whether they are head-on challenges or open space ones. This becomes even more challenging when you attempt to challenge oversized receivers who have greater chances of winning challenges given the momentum they carry with them.
- Covering some of the fastest receivers in the opposition team, and at the same time being in a position to drive the game forward.
Best Defensive Back Drills to practice:
- Comeback or Hitch Breaks:
In this defensive back drill, you will learn to cover or block the comeback route of a receiver. He will look to run hard towards you, catch you off balance, and then boom! He will make a stop all of a sudden, he will turn around and move in the direction where the ball is thrown.
What’s there for you to learn is that when the receiver turns back, it’s the time when the ball is thrown.
When something like this happens, you must look to be in front of him at all times. When the receiver tries to escape, you can drive your inside foot and move towards his break-side shoulder. At all times be prepared to discard his back off route or grab the ball.
To master this defensive back drill one has to backpedal for some good 5-10 yards then break back in a straight path. Keep changing the foot with which you break back because you never know which direction the receiver would take.
- One-hip Comeback Drill:
Just in case the receiver succeeds to escape you and breaks your cushion because it’s not possible that each time you will have an upper hand on the opponent. In situations when the receiver adopts a deeper comeback path and also manages to get past you. Then you must start running alongside him as soon as he is within 3 yards from you.
Now you have the option to choose whether to run facing the inside or the receiver.
You will have to firmly plant your back foot while driving with your front foot towards him. Since it’s a deeper route, you will have a better chance of making it to the ball, if you have read the moving receiver timely and correctly.
- 90 Degrees to Outbreak Drill:
Exactly what the name suggests, this defensive back drill is about making a sharp 90-degree break. This football drill comes into play when receivers are running onto out” or “in” routes. You should try and force them to undercut their direction while going for the pick. For this to happen, you should break at an angle slightly more than 90 degrees. For this drill, you have to backpedal for about 5-10 yards then plant your leg and break either left or right at an angle marginally over 90 degrees.
- Post and Corner Breaks:
Both post and corners are the two of the deepest slants on the field. This defensive back drill comes into action when the receiver of the opposite teams tries to get the better of you to the corner of the field where they expect the ball to be thrown or while running to the post they will aim to get past you deep across the field.
They generally convey to their quarterbacks to put some extra bit of air beneath the ball so that they can be in a better position to win the ball. This makes it really crucial for you as a cornerback to stay right on top of the route to be in a position to make a play.
For this drill again you need to backpedal for about 7-12 yards, then with a jerk push your elbow inside, make an explosive move towards your outside foot, at the same time shifting the break-side leg upward and over, and running explosively for not less than 10 yards.
Repeat this football drill multiple times in quick succession for better efficiency.
- Open-Hip Post Breaks:
Receivers are always looking to get the better of you or to catch you wrong-footed. This will allow them to burst into the post. This defensive back drill comes into play when the receiver has managed to breach your cushion. Once they have opened you up they will break from you towards the post as fast as they can.
You usually have the option to turn facing towards the receiver or show him your back while turning. In this defensive back drill you will turn facing towards the receiver, keeping a vigilant eye on him.
After backpedaling for 5-19 yards open up and run fast for about 5-7 yards. Then stir around and make 10 yards to either side of the post. Repeat this football drill 5 times.
- Stop and go Drill:
This is an advanced level defensive back drill, and a crucial one keeping in mind game situations. The receiver will run hard towards you and break down with a jerk expecting you to fall for his break. The moment you would fall for his break and move towards him, he will increase his pace and will get past you down the field.
This football drill is very much similar to the Hitch Break drill, or you can say that it’s a modified version of it. The only difference being you not driving all the way back but stopping halfway, and breaking down. Then accelerate in a 180-degree turn and run heavily for another ten yards.
Tips to Master this Drill
- Try to read the receiver and not the quarterback because if you miss even a glimpse of the receiver’s move because you were looking in the backfield, he will beat you.
- Be ready to break towards the break side shoulder of the receiver, so that when he eventually tries to turn you can enforce a strong enough collision on him or turn and run faster than him.
- Whip or Q-Route Breaks:
This football drill comes in handy when the receiver tries to lure you for his slant or arrow. He expects you to believe in his slant so that he can cut in the opposite direction. This defensive back drill requires a lot of agility and instant reaction ability from you as a receiver.
In this drill, you are always having a disadvantage because you never know what will be the next move of the receiver.
Tips to Ace this Drill
- Keep looking at the hips of the receiver, as soon as he whips out of the slant, see the direction in which his hips are moving and make a move in that direction.
- Always keep an eye on the receiver and not on what’s happening in the backfield. Because they can anytime beat you on the slant and you might be wrong-footed to react.
For this drill backpedal for some 5-10 yards then break at 45 degrees and keep running until the next 5-yard line where you break again and continue running in the original direction.
- Speed Turns:
This defensive back drill is effective when the receiver tries to make you move towards the post and at the same time, he himself moves to the center. This is a double route drill for covering post corner routes.
For acing this football drill run for 5 yards towards the post than with a sudden swing of your outside arm shift the momentum and turn towards the corner and again rush rapidly for 10 yards or more.
- Slow turns:
Both Slow turns and Speed turns that we have just discussed are for covering post corner routes when the receiver is trying to beat you on the corner. But some coaches and veterans are of the opinion that Slow Turns are more effective than the counterpart. This is because they believe that While attempting Speed turns a player loses his vision on the game when he takes his eyes off the play.
Slow turns allow you those extra chunks of time to keep an eye on the play and thus are believed to be more effective.
But single Speed turns are faster and allow you to get on top of the route, they are too an equally important candidate. To attempt this defensive back drill you will try to cut on the inside towards the receiver instead of turning to the corner and trying to get on top of the route.
- Hip Flips to 45-Degree Breaks:
We have had enough football drills that work on your speed, turning ability, and sprints, now let’s shift our focus to the drill that focuses on your hips. This defensive back drill is designed to loosen up your hips. Getting your hips ready for sudden movements, and opening them for the play.
For this football drill start with backpedaling like most of
the other drills, at every 5 yards break to your left or right and run in a straight line while flipping your hips. Do it for either side and break at 45 degrees on the side you’ve opened your stance. Flip your hips at least 3-4 times in each straight-line run.
For Cornerbacks football is all about combinations of Explosive movements, breaks, twists, and turns. You never know what can be the next move of the receiver so you can’t really be prepared for it. This is where explosive sprints and the ability to make quick turns and cut-backs matter the most. With multiple times practice these movements will settle into your memory and when on the playing field if a similar situation occurs, you will be quick to react and beat the receiver.
It’s our advice if you are an emerging Cornerback or a Professional player, practice these defensive back drills on a regular basis to add new skills to your skillset and polish the ones that you already have in your arsenal.