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Danger: separating from the receiver.

In my 36 years of coaching football, I have asked a lot of questions on the teaching techniques of defensive backs.

Probably the one that bothers me most is why defensive backs are taught to feel the receiver rather than to stay in a good position to either deflect or intercept the ball.

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If you watch games on TV or even a game tape, you'll see that by the time the ball is thrown, the receiver will be able to separate himself from the ball ... and it will usually be the DB's fault.

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When a defensive back looks away from the receiver, he will separate automatically (Diag. 1). Our correction for this is to teach the DB to watch the receiver's hands. It is awfully hard to catch a pass without moving your hands to the ball.

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We drill our DB's not to turn away from the receiver unless it is necessary to turn inside-out to find the ball. We drill the DB's not to separate from the receiver. It is essential to play between the ball and the receiver (Diag. 2).

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We drill the DB's constantly on seeing the ball and then finding the football (Diags. 3-4).

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We do not use the ball at first. We start by lining up the DB's and receivers. We then have the receivers run an up route while the DB's assume their positioning.

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As they run up the field together, the receiver will raise his hands as he would in catching the ball, and the DB will turn his head to find the ball.

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The players will interchange their roles as they come back. We then add a football to make the drill more realistic. We do both of these drills on all defensive days.

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We will use other drills to make the receiver react to the throw. We start by having everyone run imaginary routes with no receivers (Diag. 5). No matter what the route, we will always work on it from the defensive standpoint (Diags. 6-7). At times we will add a stationary receiver to achieve more realism.

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The defensive key lies in always keeping the body between the quarterback and the receiver. Once the DB acquires confidence, this technique will become a lot easier to perform.

Whenever we try this technique, we stress the necessity of not separating from the receiver and thus giving him more room for the reception.

The next time you watch a game on TV, observe the number of times that the DB separates himself from the receiver and simplifies the catch.

By Mike Ervin, Former Coach, St. Vincent's H.S., Petaluma, CA
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Title Annotation:FOOTBALL
Author:Ervin, Mike
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:455
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