A defensive back's life is filled with pressure - one
mistake can result a game-breaking score for the
opponent. A linebacker or a defensive back can cover up
a missed tackle by a defensive lineman, and a pass
coverage blown by a linebacker often will be picked up
by an alert defensive back. But the defensive back is on
his own. As the last line of defense, the defensive back
is expected to compensate for the mistakes of others,
constantly aware that there is no one on the field to
cover for him.
The prerequisites for a great defensive back include
better-than-normal speed, perfect body control, the
toughness needed to stop the run, good hands, and
confidence-plus an overall attitude that dares the
offence to come his way.
But one of the most important traits of any good
defensive back is his intense desire to compete. Poor
defensive backs enter a game fearing that the ball will
be thrown their way. Great defensive backs hope that
every pass will be thrown to the man they are covering.
They long to test and re-test their abilities. The
better the offense they will face, the more emotional
they are in preparing for the game.
In order to develop this necessary attitude, a good
defensive back must be a dedicated student of the game.
He must continually practice and develop the physical
skills he needs to accomplish his job. He also must
understand all the coverage's he will use, and he must
study the tendencies of the team he will face. He must
be familiar not only with the movement and style of the
man he expects to cover most often, but also with the
other receivers he might occasionally face in the game.
Wile sure, the aggressive tackling is important, a good
defensive back must understand that he can't miss any
tackle, sometimes sacrificing a hard hit for a
game-saving shoving out of bounds.
He must also take the knowledge that an incomplete pass
- a pass deflected or knocked down - is the same as a
running play stopped for no gain, and balance it with
the knowledge that making an interception often can be
the spark that ignites his team. In other words, he must
know when to lay back and when to take a risk.