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7 Skills Necessary to Play Cornerback
Football is a sport that demands a lot from its participants both mentally and physically. Although every position presents challenges, the more challenging side of the ball is undoubtedly the defense, and the most difficult position in particular is cornerback. Except for some other positions, cornerbacks require the greatest combination of athleticism and a variety of technical skills. Playing cornerback requires skills, skills that cannot be developed overnight they require time and patience but if you master these 7 skills, you will see even the best receivers locked down.
First of all, cornerbacks must have excellent foot speed. Due to the nature of the position, the cornerback must be able to react to any slight change in direction by the receiver, and doing so requires exceptional foot speed. A cornerback’s foot speed is perhaps his most important tool in his arsenal, as it can help make up for a slight lack of speed. That doesn’t mean you can be slow and play cornerback, but you don’t have to be off the mark, having good foot speed will help keep you in position.
Another important skill for a cornerback is excellent reaction time. This and foot speed go hand-in-hand as your reaction time will be critical to making sure you don’t get hit deep, as well as making sure you get your hands up in time to get down or intercept a pass. It is important to note that as a cornerback you are at a huge disadvantage compared to the receiver on the ball, he already knows where he wants to go but more importantly he is running forward against you who is back pedaling. Since you don’t know the play, as a cornerback you must always be ready to react to every move the receiver makes.
The third important skill is hand speed. This skill is especially important when jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. It is important to have good hand speed when jamming a receiver so that the receiver can move on you and you can get a hand on him before he tries to break out of your jam. If you have good hand speed, this is a great tool to disrupt the route timing between the quarterback and receiver which makes your job easier.
A fourth skill important to a cornerback’s success is good hand-eye coordination. This skill is especially important because it aids the cornerback’s ability to intercept the football. A good quarterback will leave a small window of opportunity for even the best cornerback to intercept the football, so you must take advantage when the opportunity presents itself.
The fifth skill is not so much a skill but a natural ability and that is the high vertical jump. Most cornerbacks are typically shorter than the receiver they will be lining up against, so a high vertical jump is a great skill to have on ball occasions that require you to jump up and challenge the receiver in the air. This is a skill that not all people are born with, however it can be improved through various training techniques as well as lifting weights. Being able to out-jump your opponent will give you a huge advantage on deep balls the quarterback can try to throw to your side.
The sixth key skill is knowing your competition. All of the skills mentioned above are enhanced when you know what your opponent is going to do. Every quarterback has tendencies, and if you’re able to pick them up, your chances of jumping routes and intercepting the ball will be greatly improved. This type of reading is typically done during the preparation week leading up to the game through countless hours of film as well as game time experiences.
The seventh and final skill a cornerback must have is short-term memory. At some point or another you’ll win, whether it’s for a big play or a touchdown, but how you respond to failure will really show what kind of cornerback you are. Understand, even the greatest cornerbacks to play the game had a loss at some point in their careers, but bounced back and learned from their mistakes.
Now you know the 7 most important skills needed to play cornerback. If you take my advice and develop all these skills, you will find yourself at the top of your game and maybe even at the top of some record boards.
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