Cornerback Drills and Covering
These are some defensive back drills you can do to work on your technique and coming out of your breaks. Included is just about every imaginable route a wide receiver might run against you and how you can perform the db drills to better mimic covering the route.
No Fluff Drills
There so many different agility and DB drills out there on some YouTube videos and other websites that you may be overwhelmed.
That's why I've created ONE place where you can get every drill you NEED when playing cornerback.
I want to take all that fluff out of your journey to becoming great, so I'll only prescribe cornerback drills that are specific to the position. For example, all of these drills are the actual routes that receivers may run on you in a game. On top of that, the purpose for each drill is explained.
You can only train so much, so maximize it by not wasting valuable training time and energy on non-specific drills.
Speaking of non-wasted movement, using cones helps to make sure you
- Keep your angles sharp when you break,
- finish the drill where you're supposed to and
- don't "step in the bucket" when you plant.
You can use them for a variety of drills and for times when you don't have a lined field and need to get some work in.
Basic Cornerback Drills
In this cornerback drill, you're covering a comeback route, where the receiver will run hard at you and try to get you on your heels, or get you to open your hips. Then he'll quickly stop, turn around and run back toward the ball being thrown. If its a hitch, he'll just turn around and stop.
The hitch is a timed route, so as soon as the receiver turns around, the ball will be coming.
What you want to do here is to keep him in front of you without letting him break your cushion. Then when he begins to break down, you want to plant your inside foot and drive toward his break-side shoulder.
Be ready to either redirect and make a break on the ball or blow his back out.
Unless you anticipate it, this route is hard to pick off because the receiver has a head start on his way back toward the ball. By studying film, you can read offenses and be able to anticipate quick plays like these.
In this drill you backpedal 5-10 yards, and then break back in a straight line. Alternate the foot you break with.
Open-Hip Comeback/Hitch Breaks
This cornerback drill is intended for situations when the receiver runs a deeper comeback route and does manage to break your cushion. It's called "open-hip" because when the receiver gets within three yards of you, you have to open up and begin to run with him.
Depending on whether your coach wants you to open up to the inside in a zone turn our outside facing the receiver in a man turn, you will play this a bit different.
This time, you'll open and plant off the instep of your back foot, and driving with your front foot, still aiming at his inside shoulder.
Since this is a deeper route, you have a better chance of picking this ball off if you read the receiver fast enough and beat him to it.
This drill is basically what it says: a 45-degree break. It is for covering the quick slant or arrow routes.
When covering this route, you should break to the receiver's break-side shoulder, which is the shoulder closest to you. If you can, undercut the receiver and make a play on the ball.
For performing the drill, backpedal about 5-10 yards and then break in a 45-degree angle. Alternate which side break to.
90 Degree/Out Breaks
This cornerback drill is also what its name implies: a 90-degree break. This is for situations where receivers are running sharp "out" or "in" routes. Actually, you should break slightly sharper than 90 degrees so that can undercut the route for the pick.
Backpedal for 5-10 yards, then plant and break left or right in a angle slightly sharper than 90 degrees.
Post and Corner Breaks
Post and corner routes are deep slants across the field. When receivers run the corner route, they want to beat you to a corner of the field where the ball is being thrown. When running the post, they're trying beat you deep across the field.
Good quarterbacks will mostly put a little air under the ball so that the receiver will be in better position than you to go up and get it.
Because of this you want to stay on top of the route so that you can come down field to make a play on the ball.
For this drill, you should backpedal 7-10yds and then throw your elbow inside, explode off your outside foot, bringing your break-side leg up and over, opening your hips in a 135-degree angle, and burst for at least 10yds.
Open-Hip Post Breaks
This cornerback drill is for situations in which the receiver has broken your cushion. Receivers want every advantage they can get, so sometimes they'll get you to open up before they break underneath you on the post.
Regardless of whether you zone turn (with your back to receiver, facing inside) or man turn (facing the receiver and sideline) you still want to stay on top of the route. For this drill, you will man turn.
In this drill, you will backpedal 7-10yds, open up and run for 5yds, and then whip around and burst 10yds on the post. Alternate sides.
Dig Route Breaks
In a dig route, the receiver will stem you hard inside (see reading receivers) to get you to open up for the post, then he'll cut his post off and "dig" straight across the field. Its basically a post mixed with an "in" route.
Dig routes are hard for many cornerbacks to cover simply because they aren't comfortable with staying in their backpedal and weave for extended periods of time. They get excited, over-anxious and start to raise up in their backpedal, or they just outright open their hips.
This spells DOOM and is EXACTLY what receivers want you to do: once they get you to raise up or open up, its "bye bye".
So weave to keep your leverage, stay low, stay focused, keep your feet moving, and be ready to react on the route.
In this drill, backpedal straight back for 5-10yds, then weave (left or right) for 5-10yds, and then break at an angle just slightly sharper than 90 degrees across the field to the same side you weaved.
You can also reverse this drill and break to the opposite side of your weave. This will help when receivers stem you inside and dig back toward the sideline.
Making these cornerback drills second nature to you is important and will come in handy when you face receivers; When they break into their routes, you want to be able to just react without thinking about where your feet are gonna go.
Performing these DB drills (at least twice a week) over time will create that effect. You should perform each drill at least 4 times per workout.
Some of these drills will feel very weird at first, especially the advanced drills. After about 3-6 weeks, though, you should start to feel more in control, like you're getting the hang of them.
(After 9-12 weeks, you'll have damn-near Jedi control)
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Focus on your defensive back technique when performing these drills. This is very important. Don't just go through the motions here or during any of your football training drills:
- Stay low.
- Don't "step in the bucket" (keep your feet underneath you, not too wide).
- Always drive hard out of your breaks
- And end each break with at least a 10-yard burst
Great defensive back technique can be the difference between getting beat and making the play.
Visualize the Pick
Always remember that as a great cornerback, you aim for perfection; meaning you want that pick to the house every time the ball is thrown at your man or the man in your zone.
All these cornerback drills have that as the main goal, but still allow you to be in position to get the p.b.u. (pass broken up) or at least make the tackle if you can't get the pick.
So work hard and visualize the pick (to the house!), and you'll be that much greater.
Depending on your goals, there are other ways you can finish the drills:
- You can burst them out.
- Break down at the end of them.
- Catch a ball.
- Set up hurdles to simulate jumping for a ball.
- Set up tackling bags/sleds to simulate making a hit.
- Or mix and match, using several of theses at once, or with a partner.
Whatever you choose to do, do it at full speed and with great defensive back technique. You want to make your football training program as real as possible, so that playing is the easy part.
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