BY: Chad Wilson
Practice, practice, practice. It makes perfect as they say. This could also mean that practicing wrong can make you perfectly wrong when game time comes. We don’t want that right? In this article, I will talk about five things defensive backs can do in practice to make it perfect in a positive way.
Right now, most of you are in the middle of practices daily for the games coming up on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I played this game so I know that practices can get monotonous, aka “boring” (file that way for your ACT / SAT exam). Going through the same drills, periods and plays every day can lull you to sleep, stunt your progress and lead to poor performance. That will happen only if you let it. Here are five ways to avoid this taking place with you.
(1) Bring Energy
Sure this sounds simple enough but make it a focus. Regardless of how you feel that day, if you are going to practice, make it a point to do it with energy. There are 24 hours in a day and practice is only two hours of it. If you can’t get hyped and focused for two hours then success is far away from you. Speak to yourself in the locker room as you get dressed. Don’t listen to the teammates that are saying they don’t feel like practicing. Joining in on those conversations will sap your energy from you. In fact, encourage them to bring energy with you to today’s practice. They may not like you doing that at first but when it yields positive results, they’ll change their mind.
(2) Set Goals
Most guys set goals for the season. That’s a big long term goal. Studies show that the best way to achieve long term goals is to set up short term goals to keep you on course. By setting goals for each practice, you give yourself something to reach for. Reaching for something keeps you focused and engaged. This will undoubtedly lead to better practices. Better practices lead to better games and that will certainly help you achieve your season long goals. So, take 5-10 minutes out of your day to set goals for that day’s practice. Say to yourself stuff like, I want at least one interception today, I want zero coverage busts or I want to touch the ball carrier on every play in the team period. Those are just examples but imagine wanting to be able to look back at the end of practice and say you accomplished most or all of those. Make practice goals.
(3) Take Mental Reps
This is where a lot of guys fall short. The only time most players are engaged and focused are when they are either in the drill or in the period taking reps. Some of the best learning you will do in practice is from watching others and listening to the coaches. Some guys are really good at certain drills. Watching them perform them while you are waiting for your turn can help you learn what you need to do to improve. Other times, there are players doing things wrong. Watching them and then listening to the coach correct them will prevent you from making the same mistakes when it’s your turn and wasting your reps. (ps, it angers your coach to have to repeat himself to multiple players). Learn while you wait by observing others.
(4) Focus on Detail
When it comes to playing defensive back, success comes from executing the little things. Having your eyes in the right place, placing your hands in a specific spot on a WR and using your feet in a certain way can make the difference in you being an inch away from an interception or actually making the play that wins the game. Focusing on the small details in every technique being taught or coverage being explained will eliminate all those inches that you will will be short of come game time. The more you execute the details, the more efficient and faster you will be on game day.
(5) Stay After Practice
Last but not least stay late and put in work. The best way to master a skill is to repeat it over and over again. How do you think you learned how to tie your shoes or ride a bike? Yes, you guessed it by doing it over and over again. The same applies to your defensive back technique. Is there something you are struggling with constantly? Help yourself by staying after practice for 10-15 minutes each day to improve. Is there a technique that is crucial to playing the kind of defense your team is running? Then stay after so that you can master it to the point of doing it without thinking or your eyes closed. Doing this after practice will make you better during practice which in turn makes you lights out when the game comes.
In closing, everyone wants the glory but few want the pain. Giving it your all in practice using these five things as a guide will 100% make your practices better. If you want the praise and the clout for being a baller on game day then you have to take the steps during the week to make that a reality. Give these things a try and let me know how it works out for you.
Other Related Articles:
- Doing this in Practice Will Keep You from Being A Great DB
- NO There Isn’t a Secret Drill for That
- Your Attention Please. One Play Can Be the Whole Game
Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.