Backpedalling in football is a movement utilized by defensive backs in order to retreat into the defensive backfield while keeping an eye on the quarterback.
Backpedalling is done by defenders who are looking to stop the opponent from catching passes from the quarterback.
This action is most often done by defensive backs because these players are the most likely to play deep into the defensive backfield.
Cornerbacks for example line up one on one against wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Once the play starts these players will backpedal in order to keep the receiver from getting past them.
This backwards movement allows them to stay close to the wide receiver while also keeping an eye on the ball.
Safeties are another position that can benefit from using backpedalling in football. On many plays, safeties will play in a deep zone defense.
This means these players will be responsible for making sure no deep passes are completed.
To do this they will start the play far back from the line of scrimmage and will continue to move backwards to stay deeper than the wide receivers.
This way if a deep pass does come their way the safety will already be waiting in the defensive backfield for the ball.
Benefits of backpedalling in football
Now that you know what backpedalling is in football you may be wondering what sort of benefits players get from using this technique.
Better chance for interceptions
One reason backpedalling can be helpful for defensive backs is that it allows them to face the quarterback. This is going to make it much easier for these players to generate interceptions.
Facing the quarterback is going to allow the defender to see the throw coming as the quarterback releases the ball. This can give them time to break on the pass and potentially pick it off.
When not backpedalling defenders are more likely to be looking at the receiver throughout the route. This makes it difficult to get interceptions as the players will have to turn their heads and find the ball in a moment’s notice.
Keeping an eye out for the run
One more benefit of backpedalling as a defender is that it will allow you to more quickly identify a rushing play.
On rushing plays cornerbacks and safeties are both going to have a role. The quicker these players realize that it is a rushing play and not a passing play the more effectively they can fill their role in the run defense.
On rushing plays receivers will often run clear-out routes which involve pulling the covering defender out of position.
If this defender is backpedalling and keeping an eye on the line of scrimmage they will be able to identify it is a rushing play.
This will allow them to more effectively contribute to stopping the run.
Get more physical face to face
One more benefit of backpedalling as a defender is that it can allow defensive backs to get more physical. When not backpedalling players will be following defenders side by side or from behind throughout their route.
This can make it difficult for the defender to physically contact the receiver. When playing face to face as a defender backpedals he will be able to legally contact the receiver for the first yard of the route.