Unless you are a track star playing the cornerback position and are faster than everyone in the universe, you have been in the headspace that the title of this article suggests. You see the receiver that was blazing across the screen in the film you watched this week. He’s jogging out of the huddle to your side and his calves are bigger than hell. Perhaps this happened at a 7-on-7 event so you had no warning like game film. He simply came off the line a couple times and you knew you had a chore on your hands.
The mental warfare that can take place when you are in this situation can be intense. How are you going to defend this wide out? Jesus, how will you defend yourself? When I entered training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, they had a stable of wide receivers that could have held their own in an Olympic 4×100 meter event. Rookie Joey Galloway had run a 4.18 forty while at Ohio St. Michael Bates was a silver medalist in the 200 meters in the Olympics. We also had another receiver that was a two time 100 and 200 meter champ while at Hampton University. Another rookie, James McKnight was a track star in high school. While I was no slouch in the speed department, thinking about the sheer lineup of quick footedness I was going to face on just about every play could drive you nuts.
Have no fear, you have a gun in this fire fight and it’s called technique. If playing football out on the edges was all about speed then every Olympic 100 meter champion would be making mega millions in the league. The reason Usain Bolt is not the all time leading receiver in the NFL and Tyson Gay is not All Pro cornerback is because they did not have the technique for football, they knew track. What do you know? Football. What do you really need to know, the technique for playing defensive back. I am pretty sure 4.5 Richard Sherman would have had his way vs. 4.”whatever” Usain Bolt if he was lined up in front of him playing receiver. The point being made here is that technique wins. Technique neutralizes the effects of speed.
Unlike Usain Bolt, the receivers you are going to go up against are much more educated on the game of football. So if you get a fast wide receiver, chances are he won’t just be fast. That receiver is likely going to have technique too. This why it would be important for you to be at the top of your game technique-wise.
Society loves to hype the physical attributes of athletes. Some of that is certainly warranted. There are people out there that can do some amazing things with their body naturally. However, the game of football and the position of defensive back has been littered with guys that won on good sense and technique. Football is a game of angles. Beating a man to a spot, cutting off his path and changing his direction are the things that make up victory in the individual battles. If your plan up until now was to just win on your physical attributes then I am here to tell you to change your plan. Man can not live on his physical attributes alone.
You may be a track star too, with big calves and gold medals around your neck. That might help you lock down the Tyreek Hill types in your league. However, if that’s all you’ve got to win those battles, God help you when the “Route God’ comes out of the huddle and jogs over to your side. Your gun just ran out of bullets.
If you want to know the advanced techniques of playing defensive back along with the coverages, strategy and more to help you win in coverage, check out the All Eyes DB Camp Member’s Area. It’s the place for you to become elite. Click here for more info.
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.