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Top 10 Cornerback Back Mistakes Pt. 1


Because I'm a cornerback myself, when I watch football games, I can't help but critique the guys in the secondary. What I always notice is that many of these guys, from high school to professional, tend to make the same mistakes, over and over again.

And more often than not, the difference between the mediocre DBs and the greats, between making plays and getting beat, comes down to eliminating these mistakes from their game.

Here's a list of the top ten mistakes I see DBs make, along with tips you can use to prevent yourself from making them:

Cornerback Mistake #10: Opening up too early

DBs covering fast receivers sometimes get ancy in their backpedal or bail and, nervous about getting beat deep, open up too early. This leaves them vulnerable to a world of hurt. Opening up early gives your receiver unlimited options, and is often what they want you do to in the first place.

To negate those options and keep yourself in a better position, work on staying in your backpedal or bail for a little longer. In your drills, add 5 yards to the backpedal/bail portion of the drill to get you more comfortable with doing so.

This way, you give yourself time to let the receiver make the first move and tip his hand. Then you can react and make the play.

Cornerback Mistake #9: Opening up too late

On the flip side, if you're not quick enough with opening your hips and getting on your horse, it could be "bombs away."

The rule of thumb is to open up when a receiver gets within 3 yards of you. It's a big enough cushion to allow you to stay on top of him, and not so big that you're lost if he breaks off his route.

Don't get beat deep. On deep routes you always want to be either on top of the receiver or right in his hip pocket.

The adage to remember this rule by is: " If he's even, he's leavin'! "

Cornerback Mistake #8: Giving WRs too much respect

Many times, cornerbacks line up in front of a receiver they think may have a speed advantage and give up too much cushion. In normal man coverage, you should be no more than 7 yards off the receiver. With a faster receiver, you can push it to 8. I don't recommend going beyond that.

The reason why is obvious: the further you play off, the more a receiver will take advantage of shorter routes. A smart QB-WR tandem will notice your big cushion and pop you for short 4- to 5-yard gains. Two or three of those add up to a first down. More of those are touchdowns.

Don't give them anything. Make them work for it. Start at 7, say in your backpedal, mirror the receiver, and read and react on the route. Let the play come to you.

If you need help, tell your safety you need help over the top. Also, be working on your speed.

The harder you make it for the offense, the more likely it is they'll try to force a desperate play, and make a mistake that YOU can capitalize on.

Cornerback Mistake #7: Giving WRs too little respect

This mistake falls in line with Mistake #9. Remember: " If he's even, he's leavin'! " Make sure you give yourself some room to stay in your backpedal and open up if need be.

Unless you have safety help, are playing shorter routes, or you're sure that you can cover the guy in man with less cushion, line up at 7 yards off the receiver and be ready.

Cornerback Mistake #6: Taking false steps

Taking a false step means stepping with the wrong foot. For example, when easing out of your stance into your backpedal/bail, if you step back with the wrong foot first, or if you're in press and instead of stepping laterally, you step back, you've taken a false step. In either of case, you can give the receiver an extra step on you and an advantage.


False steps can mean more time, and can be the difference between getting beat and getting the INT. Work on your footwork. Hit the ladder drills, practice good habits, and focus on performing great DB footwork in your cornerback drills.

To Be Continued...

(If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to chime in below....)

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