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Football Drills For Cornerbacks and Defensive Secondary Positions


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Through recent years NFL General Managers have made a noticeable trend in the type of players they value the most in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NFL draft. Of all the players selected in each round since 2000, a majority of these players have been Defensive Backs and Safeties. This trend is largely due to the skills and talent that these players can instantly bring to a defensive. With a unique combination of speed, agility and quickness, Defensive Secondary positions can transform a good defense into a GREAT defense immediately.

In order to become an impact player as described, a young Defensive Secondary player must dedicate themselves to a strict training program of enhancing speed and quickness, while simultaneously preparing for any and all circumstances that can occur during a game.

The following two articles are dedicated to teach young Defensive Backs or Safeties the principles of becoming GREAT defenders. These drills are currently being utilized by today's top Defensive Secondary Coaches and players. They are a regular part of their off season training and individual practices, and if you can implement these drills into your normal training schedule and dedicate yourself, you will see an enormous increase in your ability to be a game changing player.

Drill 1: Break on the Ball

This drill is probably the most well know among all of the Defensive Secondary drills that exist today. It involves using all the necessary reaction skills, speed, and agility required to effectively simulate covering a receiver and breaking on the ball. Today's greatest Secondary players such as Champ Bailey, Troy Polamalu, and Pacman Jones work on this drill religiously, and it obviously translates into their performance in each game.


Increase Secondary coverage skills through enhancing drop back capabilities while quickening the reaction and break on a pass.

PLEASE NOTE: This drill will require a 35-50 yards of a football field or a park. Make sure the yardage is marked appropriately to get the proper feel for the depth and feel of each route.

Bump and Run/Man to Man Coverage

Step 1: Pick a starting spot where you have at least 20 yards to drop back into coverage.

Step 2: Assume you are playing man to man coverage on the outside receiver and play bump and run for the initial 5 yards. (Back pedal with hands on an imaginary receiver)

Step 3: At 5 yards turn your hips and sprint to the 20 yard line.

Step 4: Break the route into a comeback towards the sideline and sprint to the Line of Scrimmage.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 for three sets, working both left and right side of the ball. 25 second rest between each drill.

Zone Coverage

Step 1: Same

Step 2: Play at least 5 yards off the Line of Scrimmage. Drop back in a pure backpedal as FAST AS YOU CAN to the 20 yard line.

Step 3: Once your foot touches the 20 yards line, break AS FAST AS YOU CAN directly back in the path you just ran and SPRINT to the Line of Scrimmage.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 for three sets, alternating each the left and right side of the ball. 25 seconds rest in between each set.

Coaching Tips

  • Maintain a low center of gravity during the Bump and Run and back pedal
  • Chop you feet SLIGHTLY when you make a break on the ball.
  • On the break, keep you feet directly under you. If your feet are too far in front of you, you will slip and fall, GUARANTEED!
  • Sprint through the Line of Scrimmage, DO NOT LET UP until you are 1-2 yards past. Practice GREATNESS. Mediocre and good players will jog through the Line of Scrimmage.

Casey Poppinga is a former NFL player that now writes for football coaching site called


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