Football is a game that demands very much from its participants both mentally and physically. Although every position presents it challenges, the more challenging side of the ball is unquestionably defense and more specifically the hardest position is cornerback. With the exception of a few other positions, cornerback requires the most athleticism and greatest combination of various technical skills. Playing cornerback requires skills, skills that cannot be developed over night they require time and patience but should you master these 7 skills, you will find yourself locking down even the best receivers down.
First off and foremost, a cornerback must have excellent foot speed. Because of the nature of the position, a cornerback must be able to react to any slight change in direction a receiver may make and to do so this requires exceptional foot speed. A cornerback’s foot speed is probably his most important tool in his arsenal, as it can help make up for a slight lack of speed. This doesn’t mean you can be slow and play cornerback, but should your speed not be up to par, having good foot speed will help to keep you in position.
The second important skill for a cornerback to have is outstanding reaction time. This and foot speed go hand in hand as your reaction time will be crucial in assuring you don’t get beat deep as well as making sure you get your hands up in time to swat down or intercept a pass. Its important to realize that as a cornerback your at a major disadvantage compared to the receiver across the ball from you, he already knows where he wants to go but more importantly he’s running forward as opposed to you who is back pedaling. Because you don’t know the play, as a cornerback you must always be on your toes ready to react to every move the receiver across from you makes.
The third important skill to have is hand speed. This skill is particularly important when jamming a receiver on the line of scrimmage. When jamming a receiver is it important to have great hand speed so that you can get your hands on him before the receiver can put a move on you and try to escape your jam. If your hand speed is good, this is an excellent tool for disrupting rout timing between the quarterback and receiver making your job that much easier.
The fourth skill crucial to a cornerback’s success is great hand eye coordination. This skill is particularly important as it aides in a cornerback’s ability to intercept the football. A good quarterback will leave a small window of opportunity for even the best cornerbacks to intercept the football, which is why when the opportunity presents itself you must take advantage.
The fifth skill is not so much a skill but more of a natural ability and that is a high vertical jump. Most cornerbacks are typically shorter than the receivers they will line up against, which is why a high vertical jump is a great skill to have in the event of a ball that will 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 weight lifting. Being able to out jump your opponent will give you a major advantage in deep balls a quarterback may try and throw to your side.
The sixth important skill to have is knowing your opponent. All of the aforementioned skills are enhanced when you know what your opponent is going to do. Every quarterback has tendencies and should you be able to pick up on them, your chances of jumping routes and intercepting the ball will be greatly improved. These types of reads are typically made during the week of preparation 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 one point or another you’re going to get beat, whether it be for a big play or a touchdown but how you respond in the face of failure will truly depict what type of cornerback you are. Understand, even the greatest cornerbacks that ever played the game got beat at some point in their career, but they bounced back and learned from their mistakes.
Now you know the 7 crucial skills required to play cornerback. Should you take my advice and develop all these skills you will find yourself at the top of your game and maybe even atop of a few record boards.