Help Defensive Backs Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes

Defensive backs play a critical role in a football team’s defense, but like any other position, they are susceptible to making mistakes. Recognizing and addressing these common errors can help defensive backs improve their performance on the field. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most prevalent mistakes made by defensive backs and provide coaching insights on how to correct them. By understanding and learning from these errors, defensive backs can elevate their game and become more effective contributors to their team’s success.

Lack of Proper Technique in Coverage

One of the most common mistakes defensive backs make is a failure to execute proper coverage techniques. This includes issues such as sloppy footwork, incorrect hand placement, and poor hip rotation. These technical flaws can result in missed assignments, separation from receivers, and the inability to make plays on the ball. Coaches should emphasize the importance of sound technique in coverage, focusing on areas such as proper stance, backpedaling technique, mirroring receivers, and utilizing leverage to maintain position.

Poor Eye Discipline

Defensive backs must maintain proper eye discipline to read and react effectively. A common mistake is getting caught looking into the backfield or losing sight of the receiver. This can lead to late reactions, allowing receivers to gain separation or make uncontested catches. Coaches should emphasize the need for disciplined eye control, teaching defensive backs to focus on the receiver’s hips or midsection while maintaining peripheral vision on the quarterback and the rest of the field. Coach every rep that involves poorly directed eyes,  it’s a challenging habit to break once it forms.

Inadequate Communication

Communication breakdowns among defensive backs can lead to coverage lapses, blown assignments, and missed opportunities. It is crucial for defensive backs to effectively communicate with each other, ensuring proper zone coverage, passing off receivers, and making adjustments in response to offensive formations and shifts. Coaches should emphasize the importance of clear and concise communication, encouraging defensive backs to be vocal leaders on the field and to develop a common language and set of signals.

Overcommitting and Getting Beat Deep

One of the riskiest mistakes defensive backs make is overcommitting to a receiver or biting on double moves, resulting in deep completions by the offense. This can occur due to a lack of discipline, poor recognition, or an eagerness to make a big play. Coaches should stress the importance of maintaining proper depth and leverage, teaching defensive backs to stay patient, read the receiver’s intentions, and react accordingly. Additionally, working on techniques such as “eyes on the hip” can help defenders stay disciplined and avoid being beaten deep. A special emphasis should be put on doing “your job”.  Defense is a team situation involving all 11 players on defense.  This is true whether playing zone or man coverage.

Tackling Technique and Physicality

Defensive backs are often the last line of defense, responsible for making open-field tackles. A common mistake is poor tackling technique, including improper form, lunging, or failing to wrap up properly. This can result in missed tackles and additional yards gained by the offense. Coaches should emphasize the importance of tackling fundamentals, teaching proper technique, leverage, and the importance of physicality. Regular tackling drills and emphasis on proper body positioning can help defensive backs become more reliable tacklers.  Teaching proper tackling technique can also cut down on injuries from tackling.  Losing top players for extended periods of time can hurt the overall performance of the secondary and defensive unit.

As a coach, it’s essential to identify and address the common mistakes made by defensive backs. By focusing on improving technique, eye discipline, communication, avoiding overcommitment, and enhancing tackling abilities, defensive backs can elevate their performance on the field. Encouraging a commitment to detail, discipline, and continuous improvement can help defensive backs minimize these errors and become more reliable and impactful contributors to their team’s success. By acknowledging and learning from mistakes, defensive backs can develop into well-rounded players who make a positive impact in their team’s defense.

Author: Chad Wilson

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.

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