This study compared the efficiency and speed of the cross-over step to backward pedaling for defensive backs when covering a receiver.
In American football, defensive backs guarding receivers use either the cross-over (CO) run or backpedal (BP) technique, but the efficacy of these techniques is unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare linear acceleration (LA) and change of direction (COD) ability when using CO and BP. Collegiate football defensive backs participated in LA (n = 13) and COD (n = 7) testing. During LA, participants performed CO, BP, and forward sprints with split times taken between 0-3 and 3-5 yd and ground reaction forces recorded 0 and 3 yd from the start. During COD testing, participants performed the CO or BP for 3 yd and then were given a cue to sprint to a gate 5 yd away in 1 of 4 directions (downfield, midfield, sideline, or upfield). In LA, CO was faster than BP between 0-3 yd (Δ -0.20 ± 0.02 seconds, p = 0.000) and 3-5 yd (Δ -0.12 ± 0.02 seconds, p = 0.000). At the start of the movement, CO demonstrated greater propulsive forces (p = 0.017). However, 3 yd from the start, CO demonstrated greater propulsive forces and reduced braking forces (p = 0.000 & 0.003). In COD, CO was faster than BP when running in the downfield (Δ 0.21 ± 0.05 seconds, p = 0.044) and lateral directions (Δ 0.21 ± 0.08 seconds, p = 0.035), but similar in the upfield direction (Δ 0.01 ± 0.08, p = 0.986). Our results indicate that CO is superior to BP in LA, COD ability, and movement efficiency and support the use of CO for defensive backs.
Although the cross-over run and the backpedalling technique both play a role at certain times in pass coverage for defensive backs, the cross-over produces greater linear acceleration and more efficient change of direction ability than backpedaling.
Angelino, D, McCabe, TJG, and Earp, JE. Comparing acceleration and change of direction ability between backpedal and cross-over run techniques for use in American football. J Strength Cond Res. May 25, 2018.