Vol.2, No.3

5 tips for high school safeties

Playing safety in high school requires a tremendous balance of physical and mental abilities. Harnessing and honing certain skills can help improve a player.

A young safety makes a tackle
Photo Credit: Doug Webb
The position of safety is the most physically demanding position in high school. It requires a player to possess tremendous physical abilities as well as keen mental alertness. Safeties are often asked to play like hybrids. They must run stopping skills like a linebacker, coverage skills like a cornerback and even blitz pass rush abilities like a defensive end. The physical and mental demands of this position require certain skills and attributes that can be honed and enhanced through proper training.

1. All safeties must first live in the weight room. The amount of running and contact a safety undergoes requires a player at this position to take care of his body. The primary areas of training should focus on the trapezius and rhomboid muscles. These are the muscles that a safety uses most when tackling and hitting. Exercises such as hang cleans, up right rows and shrugs work these areas. Other upper body priority areas are deltoids, forearms and triceps. These muscles assist in grip strength and pushing power. Using exercises such as the shoulder press, dips, and hammer curls with dumb bells are very helpful in developing these areas.

1b. With regards to the lower body and safety needs explosion and strength in his legs and hips. Most safeties are outsized when they play up near the line of scrimmage. The need for lower body power is a high priority to counterbalance this size differential. Including lunges, step ups, stiff leg dead lifts and hyperextensions in a lower body training workout will focus on the needs for a safety.

2. Another area of physical priority for a safety is agility and flexibility. The position of safety requires these athletes to change direction at full speed, move forward, backward and laterally on almost every play during a game. During the off season focusing on enhancing these skills can be very beneficial. Encouraging a player who is a safety to play a secondary sport such as basketball or to run track is a great way to develop movement skills. Both of these sports specialize on working and practicing technique and foot work drills. These skills translate well to the football field for safeties.

3. During the past ten years a concept called "summer passing leagues" have developed all over the US on the high school level. These leagues usually consist in a local format of nearby high schools playing in seven on seven flag football type leagues. These leagues allow for skill position players to work on bettering their respective basic football skills and obtain tremendous conditioning as well. For a safety this is a great way to work on coverage skills and obtain actual live experience before the fall season starts.

4. Speed camps are a specialization camp that athletes use to develop better running and conditioning techniques. Safeties are often referred to as "under sized linebackers" or "over sized cornerbacks". Basically they are often not the fastest players on the field though they are asked to prioritize stopping the fastest players from another team. Speed camps emphasize the art of speed mechanics. This takes running movements and patterns and teaches an athlete to rid his body of bad habits and learn more efficient techniques. Learning better speed mechanics can help make a safety must more effective by getting in position quicker to make football plays.

Safety is a tough position to play in high school. It simply asks an athlete to possess physical and mental skills in all areas. Where as most position needs are more finite. Putting in some extra time on training and preparing can make a player much better with some hard work.