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Let's Talk About: Defensive Back Techniques (Step-Kick)


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Okay, the season's winding down and I've only got a couple more of these left.  This is one I've been trying to get in all season, but couldn't find an adequate example to illustrate it.  Might fly over some peoples' heads... oh, well. 

Now I don't know how commonly known this is, but all press man techniques are not the same.  There is actually a variety of them out there and the Atlanta Falcons teach their corners a press man technique that is quite unique from the rest of the league.  You've got one technique out there that the guru, Nick Saban calls 'clubbing', where you essentially punch the sh!* out of the receiver, right in the pec at the snap and shuffle.  That's actually an interesting subject in itself as Nick Saban doesn't believe in backpeddling.  Then you've got soft shoeing and the step-kick.  Now I'm not 100% of the origin, but I know the step-kick is synonymous with Pete Carroll.  

What is the difference between the two?  I'm glad you asked.

SOFT SHOEING - this is where you try to mirror the receiver's movements right at the snap.  To me it looks a little more "jitter-bug-ery" if you will.  This is Revis's technique, and in his prime he was a master at it.

STEP-KICK - this is where the corner takes a 'read' or 'kick' step at the snap then stands there and waits for the receiver to make his move, then he kicks (or hops) off the other foot in the direction of the receiver.  This can be extremely tough to learn if you've never done it before because it requires patience.  You ever watch a receiver try to get off of press, they got these shimmies (best way I can describe it), they do a tap dance, bop-bop-bop-bop, then they go.  Most corners try to mirror and keep up with every move.  But with the step-kick, it's just the opposite.  You step, let him dance all he wants, then when he picks a direction, that's when you go.

It's very difficult to master, but once you got it down you can lock down anyone and it looks kind of beautiful to my eye at least because your movements look more in control.

Now all of this happens in split seconds and the movement is very subtle so it may not be obvious, but I'm gonna try my best to illustrate it clearly.

 

Here is Patrick Peterson, one of the best you'll find in the game.  Probably the best athlete playing corner right now, but his technique can get a little sloppy from time to time.  Right here, you want that punch a little lower, you'd like it to be in the pec, and his feet, look how Petersen almost jumps forward trying to get that jam and his footwork fails him.  You're not in control doing that, and Allen gets a nice release when he swats his hands away.

2014-09-10-12_03_50.gif

 

Here are a few snaps of Revis in his prime.  This is more the soft-shoe technique as it's called.  Look how he mirrors the receiver as the snap.  He moves when the receiver moves at the snap.

giphy.gif

 

Okay, now here is Richard Sherman with the Step-Kick.  I want you to focus on his feet... his left left foot.  See that small lateral step, see that small little jab with the foot.  That's perfect.  It allows him to open then sit there and read the receiver.  See how quiet and under control his body is, he's not all over the place.  He doesn't react to any move until the receiver sticks his foot in the ground and goes.  That's what most guys who are new to this struggle with, the patience.

sherman-press.gif

 

Now I wanna take a look at two of our guys because they've really done an excellent job of getting hold of this technique as the season has gone on, which has allowed more man coverage to be played.  First, I wanna look at what it looks like when it's done wrong.

This is from the 4th quarter vs. New Orleans.  Poole has been rock solid all year long, one of the real pleasant surprises of the season, but he played some sloppy ball late in that game.  Once again.  Just focus on the feet, the outside foot.

giphy.gif

Just all wrong.  Looks like he jumped outside anticipating something instead of hanging in there and reading.  Looks like he false-stepped, which got him waayyy too wide, allowing Snead to have all of the inside, and he missed the punch.

 

Now here is what it looks like done right.  Alford in the slot vs. Cooks who is about as quick as you'll find.  Look at how quiet and relaxed Alford's body is vs. what Poole did.

giphy.gif

 

I love fundamentals.  I love the little things.  It's the little things like this where the game is won or lost.

Anyone interested in some light reading, here is an article from Richard Sherman on The Player's Tribune where he breaks it down himself the subtle differences between the techniques.Richard Sherman: What You Don't Know About Playing Cornerback

Edited by PeytonMannings Forehead
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we all know tru is one of the best but i have been impressed with the growth of alford. early in the season he was looking like a liability. he has turned it around since tru went down. alford has ended up having one of his best seasons so far and seems to be rewarding us with some of the best play of his career for rewarding him with a new contract. here is hoping he can continue and collins continues to step up in the playoffs.

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35 minutes ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

Okay, the season's winding down and I've only got a couple more of these left.  This is one I've been trying to get in all season, but couldn't find an adequate example to illustrate it.  Might fly over some peoples' heads... oh, well. 

Now I don't know how commonly known this is, but all press man techniques are not the same.  There is actually a variety of them out there and the Atlanta Falcons teach their corners a press man technique that is quite unique from the rest of the league.  You've got one technique out there that the guru, Nick Saban calls 'clubbing', where you essentially punch the sh!* out of the receiver, right in the pec at the snap and shuffle.  That's actually an interesting subject in itself as Nick Saban doesn't believe in backpeddling.  Then you've got soft shoeing and the step-kick.  Now I'm not 100% of the origin, but I know the step-kick is synonymous with Pete Carroll.  

What is the difference between the two?  I'm glad you asked.

SOFT SHOEING - this is where you try to mirror the receiver's movements right at the snap.  To me it looks a little more "jitter-bug-ery" if you will.  This is Revis's technique, and in his prime he was a master at it.

STEP-KICK - this is where the corner takes a 'read' or 'kick' step at the snap then stands there and waits for the receiver to make his move, then he kicks (or hops) off the other foot in the direction of the receiver.  This can be extremely tough to learn if you've never done it before because it requires patience.  You ever watch a receiver try to get off of press, they got these shimmies (best way I can describe it), they do a tap dance, bop-bop-bop-bop, then they go.  Most corners try to mirror and keep up with every move.  But with the step-kick, it's just the opposite.  You step, let him dance all he wants, then when he picks a direction, that's when you go.

It's very difficult to master, but once you got it down you can lock down anyone and it looks kind of beautiful to my eye at least because your movements look more in control.

Now all of this happens in split seconds and the movement is very subtle so it may not be obvious, but I'm gonna try my best to illustrate it clearly.

 

Here is Patrick Peterson, one of the best you'll find in the game.  Probably the best athlete playing corner right now, but his technique can get a little sloppy from time to time.  Right here, you want that punch a little lower, you'd like it to be in the pec, and his feet, look how Petersen almost jumps forward trying to get that jam and his footwork fails him.  You're not in control doing that, and Allen gets a nice release when he swats his hands away.

2014-09-10-12_03_50.gif

 

Here are a few snaps of Revis in his prime.  This is more the soft-shoe technique as it's called.  Look how he mirrors the receiver as the snap.  He moves when the receiver moves at the snap.

giphy.gif

 

Okay, now here is Richard Sherman with the Step-Kick.  I want you to focus on his feet... his left left foot.  See that small lateral step, see that small little jab with the foot.  That's perfect.  It allows him to open then sit there and read the receiver.  See how quiet and under control his body is, he's not all over the place.  He doesn't react to any move until the receiver sticks his foot in the ground and goes.  That's what most guys who are new to this struggle with, the patience.

sherman-press.gif

 

Now I wanna take a look at two of our guys because they've really done an excellent job of getting hold of this technique as the season has gone on, which has allowed more man coverage to be played.  First, I wanna look at what it looks like when it's done wrong.

This is from the 4th quarter vs. New Orleans.  Poole has been rock solid all year long, one of the real pleasant surprises of the season, but he played some sloppy ball late in that game.  Once again.  Just focus on the feet, the outside foot.

giphy.gif

Just all wrong.  Looks like he jumped outside anticipating something instead of hanging in there and reading.  Looks like he false-stepped, which got him waayyy too wide, allowing Snead to have all of the inside, and he missed the punch.

 

Now here is what it looks like done right.  Alford in the slot vs. Cooks who is about as quick as you'll find.  Look at how quiet and relaxed Alford's body is vs. what Poole did.

giphy.gif

 

I love fundamentals.  I love the little things.  It's the little things like this where the game is won or lost.

Anyone interested in some light reading, here is an article from Richard Sherman on The Player's Tribune where he breaks it down himself the subtle differences between the techniques.Richard Sherman: What You Don't Know About Playing Cornerback

Do you have any coaching tips or resources for this? My son tried to learn this last year when he started playing corner because they wanted him  to play press man. We just basically read the article you posted to see if we could disect the technique but in the end he was not comfortable enough to use it in a game. 

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Great stuff, PMF. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You need to be selling this stuff to a media outlet.  

On another note, this is the second time I've read a Sherman piece that has left me coming away stunned at his writing chops. I shouldn't be surprised that a guy with a communications degree from Stanford can write, but too often, schools fail to actually educate their student athletes. 

He's really, really good for someone who doesn't make his living writing. 

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1 hour ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

Okay, the season's winding down and I've only got a couple more of these left.  This is one I've been trying to get in all season, but couldn't find an adequate example to illustrate it.  Might fly over some peoples' heads... oh, well. 

Now I don't know how commonly known this is, but all press man techniques are not the same.  There is actually a variety of them out there and the Atlanta Falcons teach their corners a press man technique that is quite unique from the rest of the league.  You've got one technique out there that the guru, Nick Saban calls 'clubbing', where you essentially punch the sh!* out of the receiver, right in the pec at the snap and shuffle.  That's actually an interesting subject in itself as Nick Saban doesn't believe in backpeddling.  Then you've got soft shoeing and the step-kick.  Now I'm not 100% of the origin, but I know the step-kick is synonymous with Pete Carroll.  

What is the difference between the two?  I'm glad you asked.

SOFT SHOEING - this is where you try to mirror the receiver's movements right at the snap.  To me it looks a little more "jitter-bug-ery" if you will.  This is Revis's technique, and in his prime he was a master at it.

STEP-KICK - this is where the corner takes a 'read' or 'kick' step at the snap then stands there and waits for the receiver to make his move, then he kicks (or hops) off the other foot in the direction of the receiver.  This can be extremely tough to learn if you've never done it before because it requires patience.  You ever watch a receiver try to get off of press, they got these shimmies (best way I can describe it), they do a tap dance, bop-bop-bop-bop, then they go.  Most corners try to mirror and keep up with every move.  But with the step-kick, it's just the opposite.  You step, let him dance all he wants, then when he picks a direction, that's when you go.

It's very difficult to master, but once you got it down you can lock down anyone and it looks kind of beautiful to my eye at least because your movements look more in control.

Now all of this happens in split seconds and the movement is very subtle so it may not be obvious, but I'm gonna try my best to illustrate it clearly.

 

Here is Patrick Peterson, one of the best you'll find in the game.  Probably the best athlete playing corner right now, but his technique can get a little sloppy from time to time.  Right here, you want that punch a little lower, you'd like it to be in the pec, and his feet, look how Petersen almost jumps forward trying to get that jam and his footwork fails him.  You're not in control doing that, and Allen gets a nice release when he swats his hands away.

2014-09-10-12_03_50.gif

 

Here are a few snaps of Revis in his prime.  This is more the soft-shoe technique as it's called.  Look how he mirrors the receiver as the snap.  He moves when the receiver moves at the snap.

giphy.gif

 

Okay, now here is Richard Sherman with the Step-Kick.  I want you to focus on his feet... his left left foot.  See that small lateral step, see that small little jab with the foot.  That's perfect.  It allows him to open then sit there and read the receiver.  See how quiet and under control his body is, he's not all over the place.  He doesn't react to any move until the receiver sticks his foot in the ground and goes.  That's what most guys who are new to this struggle with, the patience.

sherman-press.gif

 

Now I wanna take a look at two of our guys because they've really done an excellent job of getting hold of this technique as the season has gone on, which has allowed more man coverage to be played.  First, I wanna look at what it looks like when it's done wrong.

This is from the 4th quarter vs. New Orleans.  Poole has been rock solid all year long, one of the real pleasant surprises of the season, but he played some sloppy ball late in that game.  Once again.  Just focus on the feet, the outside foot.

giphy.gif

Just all wrong.  Looks like he jumped outside anticipating something instead of hanging in there and reading.  Looks like he false-stepped, which got him waayyy too wide, allowing Snead to have all of the inside, and he missed the punch.

 

Now here is what it looks like done right.  Alford in the slot vs. Cooks who is about as quick as you'll find.  Look at how quiet and relaxed Alford's body is vs. what Poole did.

giphy.gif

 

I love fundamentals.  I love the little things.  It's the little things like this where the game is won or lost.

Anyone interested in some light reading, here is an article from Richard Sherman on The Player's Tribune where he breaks it down himself the subtle differences between the techniques.Richard Sherman: What You Don't Know About Playing Cornerback

Great Stuff PMF as always can you post some of Collins ... I really like the young guy...

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2 hours ago, SPITFIRE said:

Do you have any coaching tips or resources for this? My son tried to learn this last year when he started playing corner because they wanted him  to play press man. We just basically read the article you posted to see if we could disect the technique but in the end he was not comfortable enough to use it in a game. 

Yeah, that step-kick can be tough if you're going the self-taught route.  The footwork is very detailed.  

Here's another article on it.  You might be able to glean something further from it.http://www.fieldgulls.com/football-breakdowns/2015/8/30/9229587/seahawks-cary-williams-richard-sherman-step-kick-techinque

But if it were me, I'd get him working on some of this stuff.  Chris Ash used to be the DC at Wisconsin.  He's got some good videos out there, with some cut-ups of some practice drills you might want to work on with your son.

There's some good stuff on releases starting at the 3:24 to about the 5:24 mark.

 

 

Edited by PeytonMannings Forehead
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Yeah, it's an interesting thing that cuts across sports.  Most obviously basketball, but also boxing.

Sometimes, you're far better off to wait and make the other guy commit.  Any trail technique relies heavily on this (as well as either height or speed).  If you get juked from the jump, the WR can run any route, and you're cooked.  You're especially susceptible to double moves because you're in catch up.

However, if you let him make his move, and you're ok with him being a 1/2 step ahead of you because you'll be positioned well enough to make a pass be excellent...you can pretty much make it so you're never faked out or out of position.  It's hard to get used to, because you didn't "win" at the line...you purposely barely lost so that everyone on offense has to be perfect to take advantage of the tiny gap you gave up.

There's a very similar concept in football when you're "safety valve" or last man back.  You don't give in to moves, let the runner commit, and then you commit.  It means you get run over a lot, and the runner falls forward, but you always make the tackle.  It's nowhere near as fun as coming downhill and committing prior to the runner, but it's remarkably effective.

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3 hours ago, FalconAge said:

Things like this demonstate the true value of a messageboard. We are becoming better football fans by your posts. You are a credit to your flock.

I absolutely concur with this thought! These posts by PMF and the others, really help my ability to understand what's going on more than just seeing the DB run beside the WR....

 

Thanks PMF, you got my vote for message board MVP

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Thanks for educating us brother keep up the good work. My high-school coach didn't teach us any of this back in the early 2000s. All he wanted us to do is line up again and tackle harder if he thought we didn't give enough effort during drills. Might as well been a linebacker. 

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2 hours ago, Fernando C. said:

Great Stuff PMF as always can you post some of Collins ... I really like the young guy...

I'm going to post one for Jalen since you asked.  He's who I wanted to feature originally, but that angle on Alf was so perfect and you could see the read step so clearly.  But, yeah, he's been playing some really good football.  He illustrates perfectly the learning curve you go through with this scheme.  This was all new to him last season.  He's really come around and looks totally comfortable with it now.

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Just now, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

I'm going to post one for Jalen since you asked.  He's who I wanted to feature originally, but that angle on Alf was so perfect and you could see the read step so clearly.  But, yeah, he's been playing some really good football.  He illustrates perfectly the learning curve you go through with this scheme.  This was all new to him last season.  He's really come around and looks totally comfortable with it now.

PMF, go add your input on my ICE 2' drill topic. I'd like hear it. 

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3 hours ago, Falcon Ben said:

Great stuff, PMF. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You need to be selling this stuff to a media outlet.  

On another note, this is the second time I've read a Sherman piece that has left me coming away stunned at his writing chops. I shouldn't be surprised that a guy with a communications degree from Stanford can write, but too often, schools fail to actually educate their student athletes. 

He's really, really good for someone who doesn't make his living writing. 

Sherm for obvious reasons isn't the most beloved player around the league, but to me, that's the on-field persona.  Personally, I don't have a problem with it.  I'd take a guy like that on my team any day, but off the field he is a legitimately impressive dude, and really interesting.  Don't always agree with his takes on stuff, but I appreciate that he's a thinking man with real intellectual curiosity.  A lot of these guys are like that behind the scenes, too.  

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4 hours ago, A Dog Named Brian said:

First thing I thought of was happy feet (not necessarily the movie) when seeing the step-kick. You think it's more for anxious players? That looks like something I would do when covering someone 

I think it's just a matter of taste.  Pete Carroll has all of his defensive backs doing the step-kick, but there other methods that work.  They don't do anything else in Seattle.  You come there to play Db, you gotta learn the step-kick.  That's why Cary Williams wind up getting cut in the middle of last year.  He just couldn't get it down.

I think the magic of coaching is finding what works with what players.  Just going back to Saban, he actually stopped teaching backpeddling because he had to.  When he took the job with Belichick in Cleveland he had Everson Walls at the end of his career, and Everson couldn't run anymore.  I think they said he ran something like a 4.8, 40, so Saban adapted his teaching style to this kind of three-step shuffle instead of the traditional backpeddle that kept him in position to turn and run or break on the short stuff.

Some guys like and feel the need to make contact, so they'd feel more comfortable with the 'clubbing' technique.  Some guys prefer to play off and more in space.  I know Denver has corners that play two different styles in Harris and Talib.  So, I think yeah, if you wanted to get a player to slow down and play with more patience, this would probably be where you went.

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8 minutes ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

Sherm for obvious reasons isn't the most beloved player around the league, but to me, that's the on-field persona.  Personally, I don't have a problem with it.  I'd take a guy like that on my team any day, but off the field he is a legitimately impressive dude, and really interesting.  Don't always agree with his takes on stuff, but I appreciate that he's a thinking man with real intellectual curiosity.  A lot of these guys are like that behind the scenes, too.  

If you've ever saw  Sherman as a guest on any of the sports shows or pretty much anywhere besides a football field it's abundantly clear that he's an extremely bright guy. Then you read pieces like the one you linked in the OP and there's no doubt. 

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1 hour ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

Sherm for obvious reasons isn't the most beloved player around the league, but to me, that's the on-field persona.  Personally, I don't have a problem with it.  I'd take a guy like that on my team any day, but off the field he is a legitimately impressive dude, and really interesting.  Don't always agree with his takes on stuff, but I appreciate that he's a thinking man with real intellectual curiosity.  A lot of these guys are like that behind the scenes, too.  

I had someone I know say Sherman was "an idiot" once. 

I told him if you got Richard Sherman and everyone we both know in a room together Sherman would almost certainly be the smartest guy in the room. I'm still pissed at him for interfering with Julio and then lying and saying he didn't do it. But he is a seriously impressive individual. 

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