3 Drills Every Defensive Back Needs to Train With

November 11, 2012 | John M. Cissik

Must See Football Videos

Often a team's last line of defense, defensive backs are indispensable. Their major function is to cover fast receivers and stop plays that slipped past the linebackers. They need to be extremely fast sprinters with the ability to change direction on a dime. (Read more on STACK'S Defensive Back page.)

Develop speed and footwork with the following three drills, which every defensive back needs train with. Perform them three to five times during your speed and agility workouts. The first two involve specific movement patterns: backpedaling and turning with a pivot.

  1. Backpedaling. Remember to push your hips back and keep your center of gravity low. Pick up your feet as you move backwards and swing your arms. (Backpedaling Basics)
  2. Turning. Always turn towards the receiver so that he does not disappear on you. To turn, pivot off the outside foot and step around with the inside foot. This motion is really important. Trying to turn on a planted foot means that the lower leg and upper leg are moving in different directions, risking a severe knee injury. (Run Backward Faster)

Turn and Sprint

This drill teaches a defensive back how to backpedal, turn on a dime and sprint fast after a receiver. Use it three to five times as part of your warm-up, gradually increasing speed.

Set-up: three cones in a line—cone one at the start line, cone two five yards ahead, and cone three ten yards ahead of cone two.

To perform:

  • Get into two-point stance beside cone one, facing away from the course
  • Push hips back, get low and backpedal to cone two
  • Plant outside foot and pivot
  • As you pivot, turn and step around with inside foot (if you are turning to the right, your left foot is the outside foot and your right foot is the inside foot)
  • From that position, drive back knee forward and sprint through cone three

Stay With the Receiver

This is a simple drill to help teach speed and footwork.

Set up: four cones set up as illustrated.

Cover the Receiver

Cover the Receiver

To perform:

  • Get into two-point stance beside cone one (cone two should be behind you)
  • Backpedal to cone two
  • Turn around cone two and sprint to cone three
  • Cut and sprint to cone four

To add difficulty, perform with a partner who acts as the receiver and forces you to conform to his route running. Also, you can have a third person put the ball in the air as both you and your partner near cone four. This will give you something to sprint and jump for. (See Four-Cone Backpedal and Break Drill With Devin and Jason McCourty.)

Stop the Run

This drill assumes that the defensive back did his job and covered his receiver, but someone got loose and could run for a touchdown. Keep that from happening by improving your ability to change direction, react and accelerate.

Set up: five cones as illustrated.

Stop the Run

Stop the Run Drill

To perform:

  • Get into two-point stance beside cone one (cone two should be behind you)
  • Backpedal to cone two
  • Turn around cone two and sprint to cone three
  • Cut and sprint to cone four
  • Turn on the gas and sprint as fast as possible to cone five

To add difficulty, have a partner line up next to cone four. When you reach cone four, have partner take off running towards cone five and try to catch him.

Looking to get recruited? Top 5 Attributes College Coaches Look For In a Defensive Back.

John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 28,207,060
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 5,941,524
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,811,946

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,298
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 6,362
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,225
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,560,472

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Use These 3 Principles to Improve Your Basketball Defense

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

3 Offensive Line Drills That'll Help You Keep Your QB Clean

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

This 13-Year-Old Girl Would Strike You Out

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

The Football Route Tree, Explained

Basketball Dribbling Drills: Use Chaos to Develop Killer Handles

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Shooting Drills That Will Make You a Knock-Down Shooter

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Things You Can Learn From Playing Pre-Season Basketball

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season