The Defensive Back position remains one of the most challenging positions to play in today's football game. As Offensive Coordinators continue to find innovative and creative ways to spread the field, Defensive Backs' roles and responsibilities continue to grow. As you look to develop some of tomorrow's brightest stars, implement some of these drills below to give your athletes a stronger start at the position.
Stance and Start Drill
This step is crucial to the development of young Defensive Backs, and Coach Hicks provides the key essentials in the video.
First, the Defensive Back should take a staggered stance with his weight on the balls of his feet. Depending on what feels more comfortable, the Defensive Back can either have the left or right foot forward, but the feet must be staggered to avoid being off-balance. The Defensive Back should to ensure that they bend at the ankle, knee, and hip, and keep their chin over the toes, feet no wider than shoulder-width apart. Once the Defensive Back is in a comfortable and correct stance, work through the drills that follow.
Coach LaMarcus Hicks provides a great beginner drill to implement when starting out with new defensive backs. More on this drill series on the Glazier Clinics YouTube channel.
Coach Hicks' key points are to keep the chin down and pad level low. Don't raise up as soon as the backpedal begins. LOW MAN WINS!
While backpedaling, the Defensive Back’s elbows should be back and rotating at the shoulder. The next point is for the Defensive Back to always be under control while backpedaling. Finally, maintain short strides.
Never should the Defensive Back be in a full sprint while backpedaling, because that will not allow the Defensive Back to react and make a play in front of him.
Implementing these keys to a successful backpedaling into your practice regimen will have a high payoff for Defensive Backs of all ages!
Cushion Progression Drill
The drill is designed for the defender to maintain a 3-yard cushion from the Wide Receiver using his backpedal until the Wide Receiver breaks that cushion and forces the defender to turn and run. It also teaches the Defensive Back how to keep the football in front of him during the play.
Using a “Pace-Pedal-Crossover Run” sequence, the Cornerback will start pacing backpedal as the Wide Receivers starts to accelerate down the line of scrimmage. As the Wide Receiver begins to close the distance from the Cornerback, the Cornerback will progress to a full controlled backpedal, before executing a crossover move to transition to a run phase to stay on the Wide Receiver's hip.
Change of Direction Drill
This drill does a great job of identifying which players have good body control and who can explode and shift their body weight from their back to front foot going forward. The drill starts on the sideline, with the Defensive Backs using the yard lines as a marker. The Defensive Back begins the drill in a backpedal and on the coach’s signal, the defender plants his foot in the ground and accelerates forward at a 45-degree angle to the beginning of the next yard line.
Each of these drills and its associated video provides a great fundamental base for all of your young Defensive Backs. Implementing these four drills, alongside the other drills provided on the Glazier Clinics YouTube channel, into your individual segments of practice will pay off for your team as you progress through practice and into the games!