With the big game circled on your calendar, it can be helpful to learn about the players you plan to match up with. If you’re a receiver, you’ll likely want to study the opponent’s defensive backs. If you’re a lineman, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the linemen on the other side of the ball.
But don’t limit yourself to just studying one or two opponents. Former professional football player and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders sat down with Pro Tips and discussed how studying opposing coaches, as well as entire teams, can help increase your chances of success on the gridiron.
BREAKING DOWN YOUR OPPONENTS
Sure, studying certain players will help you when you step onto the field. However, it can be even more useful to study an entire team. You’ll be facing 11 different players – not to mention the coach’s playbook – when the whistle blows.
As a defensive back, Sanders didn’t just focus on the wide receivers in his game-day prep.
“I didn’t just study the receivers. That’s where the game is misconstrued,” he says. “I studied coordinators. I studied coaches. I studied quarterbacks.”
While each coach will call games differently, there can be an overlap in the style of offense or defense they use. Several teams on your schedule may run an option offense, a spread offense or a West Coast offense.
“The West Coast offense is the West Coast offense,” Sanders says. “Several coordinators run that offense. Continuously. [Consistently]. So, why would I study those guys? I’m going to go study those coaches. [They’re] going to run what they run.”
Looking to get more familiar with football formations? Check out this breakdown of common offensive and defensive formations.
BREAKING DOWN YOUR GAME
While studying your opponents can be a vital part of your preparation, there is one player you might have to study the most: yourself. Being able to identify your weaknesses and focusing on them in practice is a major part of getting better.
“You gotta understand your vulnerabilities as well,” Sanders says. “And what you’re great at. And what you need work on.”