This is Where You Will Fail as a Defensive Back

I’ve seen it time and again. Players come out, they get excited about training and the physical aspect of playing the position of defensive back. They love drills and workouts because they can physically feel themselves getting better. This is all well and good, but when it comes to this other aspect, their interest falls off, and that’s where they’re going to falter.

What’s that other aspect, you ask? It’s the mental part of the game. Yes, I know it’s easy to fall in love with physical characteristics. As fans, we do it all the time. Who is the fastest player? Who can jump the highest? Who has the quickest reflexes? These are the things that capture our attention, and when we become players, these are the things we want to immerse ourselves in. However, you can name any of the best defensive backs that have played this game, and I will tell you they became that because of their mental abilities.

Let me give you a few names: Ed Reed, Darrelle Revis, and Deion Sanders. I can absolutely assure you that none of these players took their physical abilities for granted. All three of these players were students of the game. Not only did they understand the defenses they were playing in, but they also had an elite understanding of the offenses they were facing.

There are several videos out there of Ed Reed talking about film study and taking notes well into his career as a future Hall of Famer. It is documented that Darrelle Revis kept a notebook on all of the receivers he faced. Perhaps this is unknown to many, but Deion Sanders was one of the first players to use a portable DVD player to study his opponents while on the plane to the games. All three of these men were extremely physically gifted, but they realized that both survival and the quest to be the best would involve maxing out on the mental side of the game.

I have seen a lot of young players in my day check out mentally when it comes to the mental part of football. Once they get in the classroom and meetings, their interest falls off a cliff. Start talking to them about defense and how it works, and their brains take a break. If this is you, then I suggest you fix this as soon as possible. If this is you, then I can assure you that I have seen your future in this game, and it’s not bright.

As you dive into your off-season training from a physical aspect, make a strong effort to embrace the mental side of this game. If you do this, I can assure you that you will reap the benefits when the next season arrives.

The physical training that you are going to do will only prepare you to do what your mind tells it to do. If you have not developed your mind, then it will lack the ability to tell your physically developed body what to do accurately. Being great at defensive back or any sport, for that matter, starts with a healthy development of the mind.

So, your off-season needs to involve a total dissection of your team’s playbook. Understand all of the coverages and what everyone on the field’s responsibility is within them. Understand how offenses work and how they go about trying to deceive you. Develop a notebook on the players and teams you are facing. Also, take notes on the top players in your position. Understand why they are good at what they do.

Sure, all of this seems like classwork, and the classroom may not be your thing. Classwork seems boring, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately, being smart wins. I don’t care what it is you set out to do, whether that is as an athlete, a businessman, a criminal, or a scientist, you won’t find success in it if you don’t embrace being intelligent about it. So, at the end of the day, you’re going to have to do the classwork. Develop your mind this off-season because that’s what your body will follow.

If you’re looking to 10X your defensive back IQ, then I would highly suggest that you pick up a copy of “101 DB Tips” and join the “All Eyes DB Camp” member area. I am devoted to making you the best player/coach that you can be, and these tools are here to help you do that. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

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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