Playing defensive back can get complicated. There are so many things for you to think about. What’s my assignment? What’s my technique? What’s the down and distance? What’s their personnel? What’s the formation? Lost in all of that is one of the key ingredients to being a great defensive back and that is catching the football.
It seems simple and common sense but with so many other things taking a defensive back’s focus away, actually catching the football can take a back seat. 99% of defensive backs out there don’t spend as much time working on catching the football as wide receivers do. However, when the game comes and the ball is thrown, defensive backs are expected to be equally as skillful in catching the pigskin as the guy in the opposite color running right next to them.
Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to catch the football. I don’t think I have just made any great revelation by saying that. However, working on catching the football for defensive backs may look slightly different than that of a wide receiver. Once the ball arrives, things are pretty much the same. In the video shown below, I talk about those important things that must be done when the ball arrives. However, let’s talk about the differences in working on catching the football for DBs as opposed to WRs.
The biggest differences has to do with being able to see the ball late and track it quickly when we are playing DB. The major reason for that is because often times, defensive backs must drive to the WR out of a break instead of looking at the QB to see the ball thrown. Because of that, defensive backs will find themselves in the position of seeing the ball after it has already been thrown. This puts them at a disadvantage as you have less time to track the ball before it arrives. As such, a good amount of time should be spent by defensive backs on ball drills in which they have to get their head around after a ball is thrown to find it quickly. I call these blind ball drills. An example of a common blind ball drill for defensive backs would be back pedaling towards a coach and making a full turn after he says ball to locate the ball in the air and make the catch. Another would be pretending to be in press and turning up on a fade. Your coach throws the ball then yells ball when it’s in the air for you to turn your head around and locate it.
So, it is important for you to work the blind ball aspect of your ball drills. So far as when the ball arrives, that is something that must be worked on too. Many times, a defensive back will drop ball that hits them right in the hands. So that means you actually got yourself into position to get your hands on the ball but you just failed to secure it. For this reason, you definitely need to check out the important tips that I give in the video below on catching the ball when it arrives to your hands. It is often the ones you miss during the season that haunt you all offseason.
Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp. 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.