Closing speed in football refers to the ability to chase down ball carriers in the open field. Players with great closing speed have the ability to gain ground and tackle ball carriers in the defensive backfield.
Acceleration is a large part of a player having good closing speed. Oftentimes the player who catches the ball is going to have more momentum going downfield than the defender.
This requires the defender to not only makeup ground but also accelerate quick enough to keep the player close for the first few steps.
The defensive player must also make sure they take a proper angle on the defender. Choosing the angle is going to allow the defender to meet the ball carrier in stride.
If a defender chooses the wrong angle they are going to give the ball carrier a chance to avoid the tackle.
Which players need quality closing speed?
Cornerback is one of the main positions which benefits from having good closing speed. Cornerbacks line up near the sideline against wide receivers. These players are the most likely to run deep routes.
On deep passing plays it is common that the cornerback is going to be the closest player to the wide receiver catching a deep pass.
On rushing plays cornerbacks will often be near the sideline. If the ball carrier makes their way to their sideline the cornerback is often the deepest defender on that side of the field.
This can lead to scenarios in which the cornerback must attempt to tackle the ball carrier from behind.
The safety position is another which can benefit from having great closing speed. In football, safeties are the players which line up the furthest back from the line of scrimmage.
For this reason, they often act as the last line of defense. This often puts the safety in a position in which he must catch up to a ball carrier from behind.
On passing plays, this often happens when the defense is in a cover one defense. This is because the safety will be lined up in the middle of the field. If a player makes a play up the sideline the safety will often have to cut towards the sideline to reach them.
On rushes a safety can also end up chasing the ball carrier from behind. Safeties play a role in the run game and must move closer to the line of scrimmage when the ball is handed.
If the running back gets the ball and passes the safety then he is likely going to be the only player that can catch them.
The area where the safeties line up results in them being in a position that often relies on closing speed.
Linebacker is one more position than can utilize closing speed from time to time. Linebackers often cover running backs in pass coverage.
This is often considered a mismatch because running backs are often faster than linebackers.
On some occasions running backs are going to run a deep route like a wheel and will attempt to beat a linebacker over the top.
Since the running backs are often faster the linebacker will usually attempt to make this tackle right after the running back catches the ball.
This can result in linebackers showing off their ability to close on the running back if he happens to get some separation.
That’s all on closing speed in football if you want to learn more check our guide answering what is breakaway speed in football.