DB Speed with Cal Football

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By Scott Mackar

Defensive back is a challenging position to man. While the receiver runs full speed ahead, the first move you get to make is a backpedal. The receiver knows the exact route he's planning to take, and you have no idea where you're going. But even though your position puts you at a natural disadvantage, covering the fool and breaking up the pass is still your responsibility.

Instead of worrying about your handicap, listen up as John Krasinski, football strength and conditioning coach for the nationally ranked California Golden Bears, drops a few tips to help you level the playing field.

To work their speed and technique simultaneously, Krasinski puts his DBs through various backpedaling drills. "We'll do weighted sled and uphill backpedals," he says. "Since you don't know where the receiver is going, you need to move forward or backward quickly to get to your area of responsibility—in time to make the play. The resistance [this drill provides] strengthens the muscles necessary for backpedaling fast, and we enforce maintaining technique, even when they're are tired."

The Uphill Backpedal is one of Krasinski's favorite drills. The Golden Bears perform it twice a week during the off-season on a hill that is 30 yards long with a twoto three-percent incline.

Uphill Backpedal

• Begin backpedal at bottom of hill
• Cover 30 yards at game speed
• Walk back; repeat
• Perform 5 reps

Payoff: Moving your body weight up the incline provides resistance, which builds strength and improves technique.

Coaching Points

• Use short quick steps. Don't pick your feet up too high. Keeping your feet close to the ground will help you change direction quickly.
• It's not a backward run. Keep your chest over your thighs and your arms bent 90 degrees, while you move them in quick, short motions.
• You want a lot of knee bend. Most of the kick comes from the knee down.
• Don't stand tall when backpedaling. When you're tired, a lot of discipline is required to stay low and take short strides.
• Perform at game speed with proper technique. This conditions and strengthens your body to stay in the correct form when you're playing tired in the fourth quarter on game day.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock