One of my greatest takeaways from working with Coach Bennett at Baylor was there has to be an extreme attention to detail. When it comes to the fundamentals there cannot be a compromise. Most coaches will agree, the fundamentals are the foundation of any player’s technique. When players get tired or are put in stressful situations on the field, they reduce back to their fundamentals. It is the role of a coach to hold those standards as high as possible, so when fatigue knocks on the door, the players react with sound technique. The drills you run in practice should reflect game situations.
Daily musts are nothing new to the game of football. Many coaches start their indy periods with the same set of drills every practice. This routine is important because it builds muscle memory. Drills should reflect the same movements that will appear during a game, and should be designed in a way that creates muscle memory for sound technique. In the video below I demonstrate my daily musts that I run with my cornerbacks. The drills reflect real in-game movements. Every drill we do in our daily musts works a specific footwork that is required to be a corner. There is no wasted time on meaningless drills (I make sure to tell my players this too).
Defensive Back Daily Musts
- “Hot Feet” Backpedal – This drill is to simulate the step off of the defensive back. The feet need to be “hot,” with constant contact with the ground. The DB needs to stay in his “tuck,” keeping his pad level down and elbows close to his body. Compact and explosive. Shoulders need to stay square. I’m looking for reps, not big lumbering steps.
- Tight Weave – Tight weave is similar to a ladder drill. The feet need to stay “hot” and tight to one another. The line feet should go in and out of the line. The point of this drill is to get the DB used to pushing off the outside of his feet for redirection. This also fires-up the muscles as we warm up. Staying in the “tuck” position is key. Pad level is everything in football.
- Right & Left Pull – This is one of the most crucial drills. Every DB has to be able to turn, flip their hips, and run. The key to this drill, as in every drill, is the DB’s pad level. The drill starts exactly like the “Hot Feet” Backpedal Drill and transitions into flipping the hips and running. As a coach, you should pay attention to the throw of the elbow and the acceleration. The elbow needs to be thrown down and tight to the body. As the DB turns, his pad level needs to stay low, much like a track runner in his blocks, exploding out of his “tuck” and running full speed. This drill MUST be done full speed to simulate the transition needed in a game situation.
- Pedal Weave – This drill simulates a post-corner or corner post. The shoulders are to be square at all times, until the right or left pull. This allows the DB to have a two-way go. The point of this drill is to work a weave. The DB needs to push on the opposite foot, which was worked in the Tight Weave, to redirect. I teach a “step-replace” technique. It truly is backpedaling at an angle. Once the DBs have weaved for several steps I flip their hips and they accelerate at a 45-degree angle. If you notice, each drill is built on the one before it.
- Centerfield Turn – This drill reflects the Pedal Weave drill, but as the DB accelerates at a 45-degree angle I turn them back the opposite way (centerfield turn). This simulates overreacting to the first move of the WR and needing to correct. The DB should pull with the upfield arm and turn the head back to the coach climbing at a 45-degree angle.
- “W” Drill – This is the final drill, but can be optional as the season goes. I usually try and rep this drill every day through the first game. After that, I try and hit it at least once a week. The drill is in the name. The DB needs to weave at a 45-degree angle. Once at the apex of 5 yards the DB needs to plant with the opposite foot and drive with the other foot. Nose over toes. Plant and drive. The toe points to where the DB is going. The object is to not round off the break, stay at a crisp angle.
Speed in the Face
The final drill shown is a great quarters/Cover 3 drill. Reading departure speed is key in any deep coverage scheme. The point of the drill is to stress the DB with speed in his face. The three routes I run are fade, post, and a stop. When I begin teaching the drill I only use a fade route. I would prefer the DB zone turn, so we can simulate seeing the ball thrown and getting into control position. Against the post I want the DB to “top” the WR and press his upfield shoulder. We do not want the WR to be able to climb in his post route. This technique allows the DB to hold the point and break on the thrown ball. Versus a stop route, we work our vision and 3-step drop read. Each time I start the drill the DB needs to take 3 slide steps before they even backpedal. This keeps our plant foot in the ground and allows us to react to throws underneath (short hitches and slants are great against soft coverage). WR must run full speed in order for this drill to be meaningful.