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Cornerbacks have one of the toughest assignments on the football field. They must guard the fastest players on the opposing team without knowing exactly where they are running. (Watch the McCourty brothers work out.)
To be an effective cornerback, you must be able to change direction quickly and have a solid understanding of the position.
Regardless of whether you are in man or zone coverage, you begin in the same stance and backpedal as the receiver sprints down the field. You must have your back flat, hips back and shoulders over your knees, and you must drive through your heels and have reciprocal arm action. This puts you in a position to react to the receiver and change direction quickly to follow ever-changing routes. (Try this cornerback drill.)
To improve your coverage skills, focus on these two essential cornerback technique tips.
Plant Leg Technique
When you backpedal, your "plant leg" is key when you change direction toward the line of scrimmage. You should be able to decelerate and change direction within one to two yards by striking the ground momentarily then lifting to transfer the force to other leg with a heel "pop." Don't alter your plant leg by turning it in or out when you plant, because it will delay your reaction time.
Open Hip/Crossover Step Technique
You must have "loose hips" to change direction and respond to what's going on in front of you. You must either turn your hips in the direction you want to run or take a crossover step if the receiver cuts across you (see the photo below). To improve this technique, you must regularly work on hip mobility during your warm-up and cooldown.
Pictured: Cory Giordano, Fordham Prep High School