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How to Be a Better Cornerback

Playing cornerback is one of the most difficult positions in football. It requires speed, quickness, jumping ability, the ability to anticipate and explosive athletic talent. Because the pass is the dominant weapon in football, teams need cornerbacks who can cover the best and most productive wide receivers. Because the wide receivers know where they are going and the cornerbacks don't, the job can be quite hazardous.

Learning to Cover

  1. Cover receivers in one-on-one situations. A good cornerback relishes the challenge of having to cover the top receivers without help. In order to do your job, you need speed, agility, good hands and you must study film of your opponent's tendencies. Films are available at the high school, college and pro level, so you will have every opportunity to learn your opponent's best moves.

  2. Understand the down-and-distance situations. Teams are more likely to run in short-yardage situations--four yards or less to go for a first down--and pass when on second-and-long or third-and-long. Make sure you are aware of what your opponent is likely to do and play the situation accordingly.

  3. Tackle aggressively on running plays or when the receiver catches the ball. A cornerback's main responsibility is to cover the pass but he also must tackle. The cornerback has to keep his eye on the backfield in case of a running play. Move quickly to the ball carrier and drive your shoulder into his midsection and tackle him.

  4. Go after the ball when you have an opportunity to intercept the ball. Because you have studied your opponent's moves, you should be able to read the pass pattern. When you see the ball coming toward the receiver, cut in front of him and catch the ball. That is called jumping the pass route and when you do it successfully, it can result in an interception for a touchdown.

  5. Play the ball and do not put your hands on the receiver once the ball is in the air. That is pass interference and it will give your opponent possession of the ball farther down field with a first down. Pass interference is the act of a beaten cornerback. Don't put your hands on the receiver until he has made contact with the ball.

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About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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