TOUCH FOOTBALL SKILLS!
THE TWO BASIC DEFENSIVE POSITIONS:
DEFENSIVE BACK AND THE RUSHMAN
I. THE DEFENSIVE BACK:
BASIC GOAL: Stop the receiver from catching the ball and advancing it, by playing either a “man” or “zone” type of coverage.
1.) The backpedal= backward run, keeping a low center of gravity(knees bent, on the balls of your feet, bum down, head up, back straight, slight forward lean with your chest over your feet, looking at receiver’s torso, and pumping your arms as you run backward)
2.) The concept of “Taking-a-side- away” - The Defensive back lines up across from the receiver across from either the inside shoulder or the outside shoulder. (Inside shoulder refers to the shoulder closest to the QB. Outside shoulder refers to the shoulder closest to the sideline!)
Rational: The alignment taken by the defender, allows the defender to choose to take one side “away” from the receiver. This ideally would make the receiver have to run “through” the defender if the receiver wanted to go in that direction. Conversely, while giving the Defensive back(DB) an advantage to that side “taken away, ” the DB also gives up the other side(“chase” side)
Failure to “take away a side” would leave the DB in a chase side in BOTH directions!
3.) “Cushion” This term refers to the initial distance upon alignment between the receiver and the DB (The “cushion” distance may vary because of the coach’s direction, the defence being played, and or the speed or the ability of the receiver, and or the talent of the DB!!!)
A standard “cushion” could be about 8 yards. The goal of the DB is to maintain this “cushion” by running backwards,, as soon a the play starts and the receiver starts to run. The receiver will try and “break down” this distance, and either run past the DB, or fake the DB in a false direction, and then cut in front of the DB.
Key point: If the receiver has broken the cushion and is within 2 yards, it is time for the DB, to turn their hips in the direction the receiver is going and run with them.
4.) The “turn” When the DB has determined it is time to turn and run with the receiver, it is important that the correct foot position technique is practiced. The correct technique will reduce the time it takes to react to the receiver, and allow a smooth transition to a forward run.
Key point - When turning to run with the receiver, the DB must maintain that “low center of gravity, and when starting the spin or turn, the DB should aggressively throw the elbow “back” to help initiate the spin or turn.
5.) Footwork technique. If the receiver is cutting to a 45 degree or 90 degree cut, the proper footwork technique must be emphasized. Correct body position (stay low) and not mis- stepping will aide the DB’s effectiveness to chase and “break” with the receiver
(Remember your coach’s demonstration.) On the receiver’s break, the DB must plant their back foot, hard, usually at the same angle that the receiver is cutting at, and drive forward narrowing the “cushion” distance.
6.) Anticipation of the “Break point” and Pattern Recognition: The offensive receiver will be coached to run and break their pattern at a short(5 yards) or regular (10 yards) distance. (for the most part) Therefore, the DB must first anticipate the short break at 5 yards. If no break at 5 yards, then the receiver must anticipate the break at 10yards. Finally, if that cushion is being closed, the DB must decide if there is no “breakpoint” the receiver must be going on a deep pattern, and will try and run by the DB.
a.) anticipate the breakpoints at 5 yards and 10 yards
b.) watch the receiver’s torso. If the center of gravity raises, the receiver may be starting to slow down to break.
c.) when the cushion is broken, and there is no receiver body position hints, it may equate to the receiver going deep.
7.) “Closure” - This term refers to the DB narrowing or closing the distance, between the receiver and the DB, once the final pattern has been recognized and determined!! The DB, now knowing the pattern, and where the DB is going, must break, or explosively sprint, to the “correct” shoulder, that being in most cases that “furthest away (outside) shoulder.
Key point - The DB must explode (run as fast as possible) to the area where the pass and the receiver will intersect. In so doing, it is crucial that the DB “home in” on that “correct” usually the “furthest away” shoulder. By taking the correct “closure” angle, the DB will arrive in the proper position to either make an attempt to catch the ball themselves (interception if caught), or knock the pass down, at the very least.
Conversely, failure to take this correct “ closure” approach and angle, will lead to mistakenly judging the intersection point of the receiver and arrival point of the ball. The result is, the receiver making the catch, the DB being out of position, and the receiver scampering for extra yards!!!
Tips: Upon breaking to the arrival point of the ball, the DB must focus totally on that furthest away shoulder, and must not look back at the QB, or the flight of the ball, until the DB is within 3 yards of the receiver. Focusing on that eventual arrival point will allow the DB to run faster, as their head is looking in the direction they are running, and not ’back” toward the QB.
Key point: looking back at the ball while closing , will slow the DB, and secondly, will not allow the DB to see the where the receiver is finally going to end up.
8.) Interception technique: When the DB has closed the distance and can reach out and touch the receiver (usually within 3 feet of the receiver), the DB should look back, toward the quarterback and find the flight of the ball. The DB should leap up high, in front of the receiver, as the ball approaches the arrival point. The DB should jump up as high as possible, and toward the incoming football, forming a “triangle” with both hands thumbs and first fingers making that “window” for the tip of the ball to nestle into. Upon securing the ball (intercepting it), scream out the previously identified signal (code word) telling your teammates that you have the ball, and they should get into position for a potential lateral!!!
Key points: When approaching the receiver, and the ball is arriving, the receiver’s eyes may widen, and their hands may go into the catching position.
9.) Knockdown technique: The knockdown technique features the same process as the interception technique, except the DB can not quite get into position to leap in front of the receiver for the interception. The next best thing, is to reach in front of the receiver with the DB’s arm/hand nearest the QB, while the other(farthest away) is gently placed on the receiver’s shoulder, and knock the ball away.
Key point: - if for some reason the DB fails to knock the ball away, that farthest away arm/hand, on the receiver’s shoulder, acts as the touch or tag, should the receiver actually gain possession of the pass.
10.) Drills and Pointers
a.) Stance and backpedal - remember the points on alignment, stance and backpedal. Line up on the goal line and practice the correct backpedal (running backwards technique)
b.) footwork - Practice pattern recognition/anticipation and the resultant DB break angles with correct footwork placement. Practice 45, 90 and 180 degree breaks and turns.
c.) Center of gravity -remember to always have your knees bent, bum down, head up, back straight, watching the receiver’s torso!
d.) 1 on 1 practice - Practice taking a side away, cushion, pattern recognition, and closure