Playing cornerback is difficult, there’s no doubt about it. It is a position where you need confident kids that are also a great athletes. They are going to be asked to cover receivers, beat blocks, and make tackles. On the youth football level, most teams put their best athletes at cornerback and play man coverage. In my league, most defenses play press man coverage or they will play off-man coverage- both are very different techniques. With that said, here are 10 ways to maximize press man coverage.
10 Ways to Maximize Press Man Coverage in Football
- Off-hand Jam
- Quick Jam
- Tracking Football
- Play the Hands
Maximize Press Man Coverage
- Confidence / Attitude. Your CBs need to be tough kids, especially mentally. They need to have extreme confidence and enthusiasm. They must be able to recover from any setbacks or plays they give up. We have a motto we use it’s called “reload”! We use the work reload after we give up a big play or have a setback. Put a confident kids at your CB position.
- Understand receiver alignment. If the receiver is cheating his split out wide, odds are he is doing this to give himself room to run a route towards the inside. So make sure your CB takes away the inside shade of the receiver, forcing an outside release. If the receiver cheats his split in, that means he wants to either run a crossing route or some that goes outside. Slot receivers are difficult to cover because they will make the CB have to defend outside, inside, and vertical releases. However, you still want your CB to take away any inside releases.
- The CBs feet should be parallel, and they should lean on the balls of their feet with chest over your feet. The CB should also bend at the knees and waist. Hands should be up and ready to jam. Make sure your CB isn’t off balanced because he is making sure his chest is over his feet.
- Off-hand jam. The CB must take two quick bounce steps (not jumping high) while keeping their eyes on the midsection of the receiver. Whichever way he releases, jam with your off hand. For example- if the receiver outside to the CB’s left, the DB will jam with his away hand, which would be his right hand. This will avoid getting their hips locked.
- Do not duck your head. You never want your CB to duck their head or lunge at the receiver when he goes to jam. Shadow box the receiver with your feet. Get hip to hip with the receiver once he commits to his release.
- Quick jam. Have your cornerback off hand jam the receiver after he make his first step. This is a good tactic because it will eliminate missing your jam (trying to engage first) and it will force the receiver to show his route. This is why you should teach your kids to bounce step and then shadow.
- Watch the eyes. When the ball is in the air the receiver’s eye will widen (for when you are trailing). When the receiver’s head turns to look for the football that’s when the defensive back’s head needs to turn and look for the football. If the CB’s head turns too early to look for the football he will slow down and lose his hip to hip leverage on the receiver.
- Practice. Practice. Make sure you commit practice time to press coverage. You can do receiver vs. defensive back periods. You can also do an individual period with your CBs and you can have them work on these techniques against each other. Make sure you practice jamming receivers against inside, outside, and speed releases.
- Play the hands. When you are beat or your defensive back can’t find the football, he needs to play through the hands of the receiver. When the receiver is about to catch the ball his hands will come up. Teach your CBs to play through the hands.
- Don’t get caught peaking into the backfield. This is particularly important on the youth football level. So many time you’ll see kids get caught peaking into the backfield and get beat. When you are playing press man coverage your CB’s sole priority is to cover that receiver wherever he runs. You must be careful because some receivers will fake like they are going to block, then they will release on a pass pattern. Eyes should be always be on the receiver.
Here’s a great video explaining the off-hand jam…
If you are a press man coverage defense you need to practice these techniques. Playing man coverage is a ‘dudes game’. If your athletes are better and more physical than theirs, then you will probably thrive in press man coverage. If you aren’t dripping with talent, then maybe press man isn’t for you. However, if you implement these 10 ways to maximize press man coverage in football you will always play solid press coverage or at least be disruptive with your press man.