It’s almost time for fall playoffs around the country, so it’s crucial that you’re in peak form, both physically and mentally. The pressure on defensive units to excel will never be higher, but do you feel like you’re prepared for everything? For defensive backs and corners in particular, you must react to offensive players on-the-fly while also tracking the ball and staying in a position to make a play. Thus, our Drill of the Week is Defending The Deep Ball and hopefully our tips will help make you a team hero! A simple error in judgement or misstep can shift a game’s momentum entirely, but there are a few simple guidelines you can take to avoid these situations. One may think that speed is the most important factor in play, but it actually involves an incredible amount of cerebral intelligence, instincts, and knowledge of the evolving pieces around you. Before we get into the drill, check out our video with CoachUp coach Larry Anam to get your body basics down first. Keys to remember include: Keeping your hips parallel to the receiver while running and don’t attempt to play without contact, as this puts too much space between you and the receiver. Prevent this possibility by keeping your body up against the receiver as much as you can without penalty. Try placing your hand on his hip, so if he jumps for the ball, you’ll know instantly and have the chance to make a play on it. Now, for drills we’ve got some pretty simple ones, but feel free to tweak them as you see fit. You’ll need a receiver, quarterback, and wide open space! Start by lining up across from your offensive mark, just as you would in a real game, and stay with him using the aforementioned tips. The twist on this drill is to do these repetitions in a rapid-fire nature; so without resting, jog back to the line of scrimmage and get ready again. Try to do ten pass attempts in a row without stopping, even if you’re tired. Remember, playing good defense is not just a physical task, but a mental one as well. The more exhausted you become, the less mentally sharp you get — which means you might forget to create bodily contact or keep your head on a swivel. Forgetting to execute just one part of our video could lead to a big gain or game-winning score. As for variance, let your receiver do one of three things: an out, slant, or curl route. This way, you’ll be prepared for most situations without being at the mercy of one-on-one defending. For an additional challenge, switch out the football for a tennis ball, this will make you be more surgical, accurate, and purposeful in your tactics. OK, that’s it! Now that you’ve got our playbook for defending the ball, what are you waiting for? Watch our video, use these tips, and start making a big time difference on the field!