Defensive Back Training.

The defensive back position, at any level of football, requires a vast array of skills and an advanced level of athleticism in order to dominate the opposition.
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Let The Assault Begin

Not many sports require players to run backward as fast as most run forward, turn on a dime, react blindly, react powerfully, have a paper-thin memory about getting beat and an ironclad memory when it comes to game preparation and film study. The defensive back position, at any level of football, requires a vast array of skills and an advanced level of athleticism in order to dominate the opposition.

As we unfold this highly detailed plan, you will see that training must address all the needs of the DB. Explosive strength, flexibility, body awareness and incredible catch-up speed are just a few abilities we have to master. I believe that effective coordination training features diversity, variability and a large number of movements. I also believe in challenging the players with exercises that are difficult yet appropriate for their current level of skill development, and that it is essential to reshape and vary the exercises after adaptation has occurred.

Building the foundation of this complex position takes time and patience. Throw in a tremendous work effort and positive attitude and you are well on your way to being able to mirror some of the best wide receivers in the game. Starting off, one has to dive into the world of science. Bio-motor ability means the following: Motor = Movement and bio = the tale of the biological significance of these abilities.

Bio-motor Abilities

  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Speed
  • Coordination (least practiced)
  • Flexibility


  • Muscular endurance
  • Speed endurance
  • Agility
  • Mobility
  • Power
  • Max Strength
  • Anaerobic endurance/aerobic endurance
  • Maximum speed
  • Range of motion

The problem with most programs is they lack the wheel of development that makes a complete player. Our assault will start with the end in mind. As many football coaches do, I watch many hours of film in a week. As I review film on my DBs, I can see the tremendous physical burden placed on them in one series alone. As I viewed my cut-ups, one series unfolded like this.

First and ten: defensive run support on an outside zone play. My defensive back had to collide with the fullback to turn the runner inside (strength and power). Second and one: deep pass down the sideline to the fastest wideout on the team (speed and speed endurance). Third and one: break on a quick 3-step slant and tackle the receiver with no support because we had nine in the box (explosion, strength, reactive ability, grip strength). As you can see, the athletic ability required is ridiculous! As we dive into the training of the defensive back, we have to make sure we address all the needs of the athlete.

Flexibility And Range Of Motion

There are some coaches out there who preach that squatting below parallel is of little relevance to a football player. Watch a game on Sunday, and you will quickly have a change of heart. A defensive back is twisted and torqued into positions some would call yoga-like as he defends the whole field of play. Great players like Lester Hayes, Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson all have incredible amounts of hip mobility. Watching Lester Hayes line up in his low press coverage stance immediately shows us that he has to call on hip flexibility that would make some people insanely jealous. The model has a built-in hip flexibility arsenal that is foolproof.

Exercises To Improve Your Range Of Motion

  • Dynamic Hurdles: Ducking under and stepping over hurdles of various heights at different speeds and levels.
  • Agility Drills: By performing agility ladder exercises and cone drills our defensive backs will be able to maneuver their hips into positions that are normally called on in a game. Looking closely at the exercises picked, you will see a huge sport-specific concept behind the foot patterns.
  • Olympic Lifts: Their hybrid motions through a full range of motion.
  • Specific Stretches: Static and dynamic.

As we continue to put together a complete package, we will see how it all folds neatly into our defensive backs' performance on the field of play.

About The Author

Dan Fichter hails from Wannagetfast Power/Speed Training in NY State and is an Assistant Renegade Coach.