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By Eliot Fields, Assistant Defensive Coordinator & Safeties Coach, Carroll University (WI)

Coaching DB's that are in phase is very different from coaching them on out to recover when they are out of phase. Coach Fields does a great job of breaking this down and connecting the techniques they use at Carroll U. Read the report...


By Eliot Fields
Assistant Defensive Coordinator & Safeties Coach
Carroll University (WI)
Twitter: @CoachFields_CU

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We define being in-phase as the defender being in good position on a receiver. This means our defender is in a slight trail technique in which they are close enough to get their hand to the receiver’s hip while still maintaining a slight bend in the elbow. When we are in-phase, we are in good position to play the ball if thrown in our direction. We will utilize our wedge progression to teach our in-phase technique.

On the other hand, we will define being out-of-phase as the defender not being in position to make a play on the ball. This means the defender will need to play the receiver’s hands instead. When we are out-of-phase, we will utilize our disadvantage progression.

While some of the drills you will see here may be familiar, I firmly believe that the progressions we use to teach the techniques help our players fully understand the technique, as well as the “why” behind how we do things. Teaching a technique is one thing, but without teaching the student-athlete the “why,” we are not truly helping that individual become a better player. By utilizing these progressions, we are able to introduce the different aspects of our in-phase and out-of-phase techniques, identify when each will be used and ultimately tie everything back together.

Wedge Progression

As I stated above, when teaching our wedge progression we are saying that our defender is in-phase with the receiver and can make a play on the ball. We begin by teaching the wedge, as it is our best-case scenario. When we are teaching technique, we always want to teach the proper technique before moving on to contingencies.

The primary focus of our wedge progression is getting into, or maintaining, proper body position on a vertical route by the receiver. This progression is broken into 4 phases:

  1. Jogging Wedge (w/o ball)
  2. Start In-Phase
  3. Mirror Breaks
  4. Full Wedge

Jogging Wedge

We start our progression by teaching the correct body position and posture. We want this drill to simulate perfect positioning against a receiver downfield. For this drill, we will slow down the tempo of the receiver and the defender, and eliminate the ball. The defender will start in-phase with the receiver, meaning that he has:

  1. Inside positioning on the receiver
  2. A slight trail technique (between ¼ and ½ man) on the receiver
  3. A slight bend in the elbow with the bottom 6 inches of his Ulna (DB’s outside arm) making contact with the inside hip of the receive.

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On the whistle, both players will jog at 60-75% speed, with the defender looking to maintain this position on the receiver through the rep. The focus of this drill is 100% on body positioning and posture. The defender should be playing within their frame and under control throughout the entire rep.

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  • Coaching points and film of the Mirror Break Drill that Coach Fields uses to simulate reacting to an in or out breaking route with a vertical release.
  • Coaching points and film of the Race to Hip Drill that Coach Fields uses to simulate getting back getting back in-phase on a receiver.
  • Coaching points and film of the Standing Disadvantage Drill that Coach Fields uses to train DB’s hips and eyes when they are out of phase.
  • Coaching points and film of the 75% Disadvantage Drill that Coach Fields uses to train DB’s to use off-hand fundamentals to pin the wrist of receivers when they are out of phase.

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We are very deliberate about how we work through our progressions, and will continue to put the pieces together one phase at a time, rather than jumping right into a full-speed drill technique drill. Teaching the “why” and “when” to use different techniques has been just as important to our player’s development as these progressions. I hope that you found these drills to be useful, and can take something to add to your current drill manual.  

Meet Coach Fields: Eliot Fields begins his fourth season as an Assistant Coach, and first as the Assistant Defensive Coordinator with the Pioneers’ in 2017. During his stint coaching with the Pioneers, Fields has spent time working with both the Defensive Backs, as well as working with the Running Backs during the 2015 season.

In 2014, Coach Fields helped to mentor a unit that was ranked as the top Passing Defense in the Midwest Conference, surrendering just 140 yards per game through the air. The 2014 season also brought conference recognition to the Safety unit, with a First Team All-MWC selection, as well as the Defensive Skill Player of the Year in the conference.

Fields is no stranger to the Carroll Football Family. During his career at Free Safety (2010-2013) he was a three-year letter winner, captain, and All-MWC selection in 2013. Fields was a major contributor on the 2012 Pioneer Defense that garnered national recognition as the Division 3 statistical champion in Defensive Pass Efficiency.



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