Off Season Film Study 101

When the season is over and you begin preparation for the next one, you can’t ignore film study as a part of the process. In this article, I will discuss a few factors that need to be explored when you are entering into your off-season film study.

Studying Yourself

I put this one first because it is the most important. Often times, defensive backs, when getting into off-season film study, immediately go to looking at potential opponents. However, your road to improvement over last season starts by studying yourself.

Go back and rewatch a minimum of four or five of your games from last season. Carefully study yourself on film. As you watch your movements, ask yourself what things you can improve on. There’s no way that you won’t have a list of things ready.

A big part of your off-season training, both in the weight room and on the field, should involve a lot of what you observed of yourself on film. Also, examine how well you played within the defense. Were you solid on all the coverages your team ran? Chances are you weren’t. Improving upon this means you are going to have to gain a better understanding of how the defense works. This doesn’t just solely mean your responsibilities. This means how well do you know what everyone else around you is supposed to do as you are playing. Football is the ultimate team game, and true playmakers understand everything that’s going on around them.

Studying Opponents

After you have done your due diligence on studying yourself and seeing where you need to improve, it’s now time to study your opponents. At every level in football, there are standard opponents that you will face every year. These are teams that are in your league or division. These teams are the ones that you need to understand the most since games against them are of the utmost importance.

Take note of what are their bread-and-butter plays. If the quarterback is returning for the next season, it’s time to get a good read on what his tendencies are. Spend an entire off-season developing a deep understanding of what he does out there. Sometimes the studies uncover some things that you can take to the bank. One season, while I was coaching, I discovered that a quarterback that we were going to face could only throw to his right. Needless to say, that paid huge dividends when we faced him the next season.

When studying your potential opponents for next season, it is important that you take notes. Don’t trust your memory while you are watching film. You will forget things and could potentially waste your time. Pull out a pen, pad, or iPad and jot down notes during each film session. Spend some time going over those notes, and you will imprint them into your brain. When the game versus those opponents comes up the following season, your film study will become that much easier.

Watching Games

Spend some time watching games that were played on TV last season. I am talking about college football and NFL games. This goes for players at all levels, NFL included. Chances are when you watched the game originally, you did so as a fan. Now you will watch the game as a player/coach.

Spend some time analyzing the offenses. Start asking yourself questions about how and why they do the things they do. The formations, splits by the wide receivers, and the downs plus distance. What did those things mean to the plays that were run? You’d be surprised how much you can pick up about how offenses work just by doing this in the off-season.

Top Players at Your Position

In this unprecedented time of access to things like YouTube, there’s no reason why you can’t spend time studying people who are where you want to be.

During this off-season, check out 3 to 5 of the top players at your position. Figure out why they are so good at what they do. Perhaps they have exceptional physical skills. However, players at the top of their game are not there simply because of their physical assets. Most top players in any sport have either exceptional technique or IQ or both. Make it a point to try and duplicate the elements of their success during your off-season training.


Your off-season training is not going to only be about physical improvement. 80% of this game is mental. If you don’t spend a good portion of your time in the off-season improving mentally as a defensive back, then you will most likely fall short of your goals in the new season that is to come. Film study is not only an exercise for the in-sseason. Those who engage in it in the off-season benefit greatly.

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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