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Top Defensive Back Challenges

So, yesterday I asked what your top challenges as a defensive back were, and the answers I got ranged from "lacking size" to being able to cover certain routes, like the "quick slant". But there were some that weren't mentioned, such as:

Although they seem different, all of these answers are rooted in one or both of these underlying areas:

Technique and Strength

Technique and Repetition

Being good at something takes practice. You have to fumble around a little bit and attempt it over and over until you get it right.

This same principle applies to being a defensive back. Being able to stay low, come out of your breaks, and be in position to make plays takes focused repetition, either by performing drills on your own or testing yourself against competition.

But, you have to perform the right drills, with correct technique, so that you burn into your muscle memory the ability do those things without thinking. They should be as automatic as riding a bike.

Have you ever you heard someone say "They make it look so easy," when watching another person perform? the person they're talking about most likely the has done that thing over and over again.

But even if you have performed defensive back drills over and over again, and have great technique and body mechanics, you will hit an improvement wall if you don't augment that training.

And that's where strength training comes in.

Strength and Power


Pick up any two objects, one in each hand, one light and the other heavy.

Now shake them really fast.

Notice how you can shake the light object a lot faster than you can the heavy object?

That's because you are stronger relative to the lighter object. The same principles apply to your legs' ability to move your body faster.

Even if you're low in your backpedal or bail, and have great footwork, pushing out of your break takes strength. The stronger you are, the faster you'll be able to break.

But just like with technique, you have to perform the right strength training exercises, with correct lifting form and the right amount of intensity (weight), through a defensive back-specific range of motion, with the right amounts of rest between sets, exercises, and training sessions, and the right manipulation of intensity of your microcycles (3-week periods), in order to get the maximum results.


Once you've developed that base of maximum strength, and maximized the amount of force you can produce, you then train your body, through a defensive back-specific range of motion, to produce that force EXPLOSIVELY, using power training, such as Olympic lifting, plyometic, and ballistic training exercises.

Once again, you have to use the right exercises, with correct lifting technique and the right amounts of rest (not to mention, a complete balanced diet).

This is a simplified explanation of the process, but combined with speed training, static and dynamic flexibility, and many other factors, you have a process that will transform the athlete you are.

It will make those challenges you face now seem easy, and you will "make it look easy."

I've tried to convey much of the process here on the site, but I still get emails from DBs asking where they can find a good off-season program.

So, if you're serious about becoming a great, shutdown cornerback, and want to use this process to get you there, I've broken it down into an 18-Week program and packaged it here

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