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 to play man to man. And as you know, it’s the details that are most important.
Here are a few techniques and coaching points that are sometimes overlooked:
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). 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.
Play with inside leverage. Time after time I see defenders play their receivers head up. Cornerbacks should always play with inside leverage in youth football. It is a lot harder to complete a pass outside. It is very difficult for a youth football quarterback to throw from the pocket and 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 a reason. 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 running 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. How receivers line up can really give your team some tells. All coaches will have their receivers cheat their split or alignment one way or another to create room so they can run their given pattern.
Bump and run man to man coverage. 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. What we have our corners do is line up on the inside shoulder of the receiver, give a step and then jam.
Quick coaching tip, when jamming use outside arm, and watch the hips of the receiver.
Many kids will jam 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.
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