Speed Up Your Breaks with this Top of the Route DB Drill

As defensive backs, we know that a big part of our game is changing direction. The elite ones are able to do this and do it quickly. In the drill that I’m introducing and analyzing for you today we are speeding up our feet and learning how to get out of our brakes with maximum efficiency.

The focus of this “top of the route drill” is to get your feet properly positioned on the break when a change of direction is required. What we are mimicking here can be two things. First, is a situation when you are playing off of a wide receiver, and he has broken your cushion causing you to open, but then breaks his route off requiring you to react to that. We are also simulating a situation where you may be running down the field with a wide receiver in press, and he breaks his route off. Either way,  you must get your feet down quickly and redirect your body into the direction of the wide receiver.

This top of the route drill gets the defensive backs hips opened and running at a decent rate of speed similar to what they would be doing in a game situation. Then on the queue of the coach/trainer, the defensive back must execute a break and change direction.  Of course, all of this is simulated as there is no actual Wide Reciever in the drill.

Here are the points of emphasis:

  • Upper body control with front shoulder down
  • Eyes locked in the right place. In this case on the imaginary wide receiver’s hip.
  • Planting our feet within our circle, (under our hips)
  • Driving our eyes to towards the receiver for at least two steps before looking for the ball

You will notice the use of a lacrosse ball in this drill. The lacrosse ball is used to have the players focus on a smaller item and improve their hand eye coordination. This does wonders to increase their focus and translates to when they are catching a real football.

Drill set up:

  • Five cones are used in the drill
  • Four cones form a box that is 5 yards on each side.
  • The fifth cone is put in the middle of the box
  • The player starts in a balanced stance at the lower corner of the box.
  • On the trainers queue, he opens his hips and runs at a 45° angle to the middle cone.
  • On the trainers verbal queue, he will flip his hips to the cone at the top of the box.
  • On the trainers final queue he will plant and drive downhill from the cone at the top of the box back down to the Cone where he originally started.
  • For two steps, he will drive his eyes to the cone at the original starting point.
  • After the two steps, he will look for the incoming lacrosse ball and execute the catch.

When you have a large group, you can increase the amount of reps by splitting the number of players in half. 1/2 is on the left side. The other half is on the right side. From there you run the drill on both sides. First a player from the left side goes then a player from the right side goes. This increases the amount of reps, as well as the learning.

Check out the video below as it shows multiple reps with the players executing the break at the top cone.

For more great drill videos like this one along with coverage breakdowns, explanations and more,  check out the All Eyes DB Camp Member’s Area.



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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