There are several things to keep in mind when considering how to be a good football defender. It is often said that offense wins football games but defense wins championships. Keep these tips in mind and you can be part of a championship defense.
- Good tackling. Perhaps the number one goal of a defender is to tackle the ball carrier. And while tackling may seem like it involves nothing more than simply running into the offensive player, to be a good football defender you must use proper technique. This involves keeping your body square, with weight distributed evenly between your feet, hitting with your facemask and wrapping with your arms and then running through the ball carrier, keeping your feet moving until he’s on the ground.
- Balance. It might be self evident, but to be a good football defender, balance is very important. Ball carriers will try all sorts of moves to get past you and offensives will try many different kinds of misdirections and tricks to get defenders moving the wrong way. In order to stay on your feet and in good position to make plays, you have to have great balance, which can be honed through various practice techniques that force you to focus on footwork.
- Study. This might not sound exciting, but to be a good football defender you must study what you’re opponent does on offense. Any successful defensive player at the NFL level often discusses how much film he watches of his opponents. Offenses know where the play is going and you don’t, so you give yourself a big advantage by having studied their tendencies so that you can make a pretty good guess about what might be coming.
- Teamwork. There are ten other players on your side of the ball and be a good football defender you have to work as part of that unit. Just do your job on every play—even if it seems unglamorous at the time, you are probably assisting one of your teammates to do his job and get to the ball carrier faster. Don’t try to do too much or you’ll find yourself out of position. Trust in your system and your teammates and as a unit you can stop the offense.
- Conditioning. Chasing around offensive players all day can wear you out, especially at the end of the game or of a long drive. To be a be a good football defender you need to have had great conditioning so when the going gets tough and a defensive stop is really important, you have the energy and the legs to get the job done.
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