Man to Man Coverage Tips for Youth Football
Man to man coverage is used by 90 percent of youth football teams. Some youth coaches overlook the finer coaching points when they are teaching their defenders how to play man to man. And as you know, it’s the fine details that are most important.
Vital man to man coverage tips:
Players and coaches must have an understanding of down and distance. If it is 3rd and long, don’t play zero coverage (meaning no safeties). This is one of the most important man to man coverage tips! Have your cornerbacks and coverage players give a little cushion on the receiver. Play with at least one deep safety. Yell to the kids from the sideline- “down and distance!”. Understanding down and distances is very important. Have a prevent defense as well. Also, if it is 3rd or 4th and long, your coverage players have to understand that they need to go deep! Don’t get beat deep.
Play with inside leverage. Time after time I see defenders play their receivers head up. In youth football cornerbacks should always play with inside leverage. It is a lot harder to complete a pass on an outside cutting route. It is very difficult for a youth football quarterback to throw from the pocket-to the outside. Contain the QB and take away the inside when playing man to man coverage in youth football.
Understand the alignment of the wide receivers. For example, if the split end is lining up really wide it is for one or two reasons. The split end lines up wider because he wants to take the corner out of the play. Teams tend to do that when they are facing an aggressive and good tackling corner (I do that consistently). Also, if a wide receiver is lined up wider than usually it is probably because they are going to run a slant or some kind of inside route. Make sure your cornerbacks understand playing with leverage: If the WR lines up wide, take away his inside! When a team cheats a receiver in the slot, it’s because the offense wants their slot receiver to get a free release or they want him to run an outside pattern, or even crack block. How receivers line up can be a strong indicator of what route is coming. All coaches will have their receivers cheat their split or alignment one way or another to create room so they can run their given pass pattern.
Bump and run man to man coverage tips. Many youth football corners do not get a good enough jam on their receiver. Although we are one of the few teams that play zone coverage we also use man to man once in while. What we have our corners do is line up on the inside shoulder of the receiver, give a step and then redirect.
Why do we give a step and then jam? Many kids will jam right off the snap and if the wide receiver gets a good release they will get burnt because their first step is forward. When you give a step (take a back step)-open hips-then jam the receiver while riding his inside hip it will allow your corner to turn and run with WR. This will also take away the inside release and throw off timing at the same time.
The best man to man coverage tip I can give you is to be smart. Make sure coaches and players understand down and distances. Make sure they understand receiver splits/alignment. Watching game film of your opponent can also help.