DB Drills

Kirby Smart:  DB Coach, University of Alabama

Kirby Smart shares the defensive back coaching responsibilities with Head Coach Nick Saban.

DB Drills in Individual Period

Alabama uses two 7-minute Individual Periods covering the A-B-C's of DB Play.


Change the drills up  daily, working two line drills and one line drills.

Block Protection:

Mirror Butt, Shuffle Butt, Shuffle Butt & Cutt, Hit & Shed
Force the kids to use their hands, lock out defenders.  Add in working against cut blocks (College rules).
Hit & Shed:  Line 3 guys up - hit & shed each one.  Use the near leg and near shoulder to generate more power - this uses the power clean and squats you do in the weight room.


Angle tackle with near leg/near shoulder.
Open Field Tackle:  Start 15 yards apart, close to 5 yards.  Flat step and open the hips - too many guys step at the ball carrier.
Sideline Tackle
Duck Tackle
Contain Tackle:  
From Cover 2 position, carry the receiver to 20 yards, come up and make a contain tackle on the back out of the backfield. (see Drill Diagram 1)  Safeties will do the same drill, but working against a curl/flat combo.

Contain Tackle Drill Drill Diagram 1

Stick Tackle:  Three guys along the sideline.  The DB takes 2 steps back, stick & tackle w/ near leg and near shoulder. (see Drill Diagram 2).

Stick Tackle Drill Drill Diagram 2

Boss Drill:  Cornerback keeps the toes pointed north & south, drops down low, Dip & Lift.  (see Drill Diagram 3) If you turn into the blocker, your'e in trouble.  Force the ball carrier to redirect.  Close the downhill running lane - don't create a "freeway force."

Boss Drill Drill Diagram 3:  Boss Drill

Crack Drill:  Get in and up - crack the cracker.  Make the ball go wider & around.  

Perform one DB drill from each category in a 6 minute period.

Position Specific DB Drills 

Split up the Safeties and Corners for these DB drills.
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What a DB Must be Able to Do

  1. Judge the ball
  2. Tackle
  3. Play Man to Man coverage

Deep Ball Drills:  

Hook & Swat:  Secure the tackle, swat the ball.  Use both in phase and out of phase ball drills.  Teach kids not to look back if they are out of phase.  Work these drills through the "Move Area" - however deep the opponent's QB can throw a Deep Comeback - before you can ever look back.  If you're out of phase, you've got to run back to get in-phase.

Position Specific DB Drills:  Corrections Emphasis

1/2 Line Pattern Match:  Teach coverage vs. opponent's routes.  (see Drill Diagram 4)

1/2 Line Pattern Match Drill Diagram 4

Deep 1/3 Off Drill:  Done more during the off-season, a great teaching DB Drill.  (see Drill Diagram 5)
QB can 3-step or 5-step, or toss the ball to the RB.  Corner needs to defeat a good stalk block.  He plays it with 2/3 outside, 1/3 inside - conrol the outside, but be able to get back to the inside.  

Deep Third Off Drill Drill Diagram 5

DB Drills:  Backpedal

Get MLB Tickets at StubHub! Mirror/Butt:  Line up DB across from receiver in Cover 2 position.  Slide back and forth between two cones 5 yards apart.  Keep a good base, not to wide.  You can do it with only one hand.  

Long Ball Drill:  Most of the time you're breaking up on a dig, etc.  Most breaks are downhill.  Breaking on receiver location - practice that as well, not just breaking on the ball.  That is one of the hardest things to do.  

Practice the Deep 1/3 Off drill - even if they never play Cover 3.  

Cover 2 Reduce the Running Lane:  You can come inside the WR when you are the run force player.  Once he pins the outside shoulder, turn & run back outside.  

DB Drills:  Man Technique

Just like in pitching, you can't always throw the fastball.  But be good at it by practice Man Coverage DB Drills.

Off-Hand Jam w/ Kickslide from Press Coverage
Tough Jam
:  Use the inside hand & force it outside if aligned wider than the divider.
Bail:  Don't allow false steps.
Off Man:  Used when blitzing.  

90% of the time they play from the press to discourage quick screens and bubbles.  Press coverage affects timing.  It is hard for the offense to simulate good press coverage in practice with their scout team.  If you don't press, the offense is basically throwing routes on air, which they do all the time.

The advantage of the Defense is that the defense gets to put hands on the receiver.
Give him body surface, force him to release around and up.  By bailing or opening the hips, you decrease body surface and let the receiver stack on top of you faster.

Expect the Middle of the Field Safety to make plays all over up to 18-20 yards.  As it gets deeper, that space gets wider.

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