How to Get in Shape for a Cornerback

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“Defense wins championships” is a phrase commonly used by coaches and players to express the importance of preventing the other team from scoring points. In football, the backfield of the defense consists of cornerbacks and safeties -- commonly described as defensive backs. With the responsibility of covering the wide receivers and tight ends, cornerbacks must possess skills such as tackling along with speed and agility. To get in shape for a cornerback, you must include these components into a sport-specific conditioning program.

Follow a position-specific strength training program. The strength training workouts are the foundation to your conditioning and lays the groundwork for other specialty drills and exercises. The best strength training exercises for cornerbacks includes barbell movements such as Olympic lifts for overall power, squats and deadlifts for the lower body and the bench press, shoulder press and barbell row for the upper body. Each exercise plays an essential role in developing the strength and skills needed at the cornerback position

Perform plyometric exercises and other power exercises. These exercises are characterized by fast, powerful movements that build speed and strength to improve your ability at cornerback. Sample plyometric exercises include box jumps, squat jumps and medicine ball training.

Improve your speed and agility with specific drills and exercises. Getting in shape for a cornerback involves a lot of running, sprinting, changing directions and accelerating. The combination of these movements resembles the natural movements made on the field during a game while covering a receiver. Sample drills include shuttle runs where you run back and forth between marking cones or lateral speed drills where you run side-to-side.

Perform footwork drills with an agility ladder or marking cones. The ability to change foot directions while rotating your hips is essential for covering receivers. These drills include various footwork patterns where you try to coordinate your movements inside the agility ladder. Focus on crisp, clean movements during the drills to maximize the results.

Improve your general level of conditioning with football-specific conditioning drills. These drills can be performed with your defensive teammates to build teamwork and camaraderie as you are getting shape for the season. Sample drills include gassers where you run back and forth from sideline to sideline.

Perform position drills where you learn the basic movements and practice covering receivers. These drills improve your overall performance while helping you get in shape for games and are the culmination of your strength, speed, agility and footwork training.