Sunday, November 20, 2016

Man-Press Technique Part 1 of 2

In previous blogs I’ve discussed establishing philosophy in a college football program, how to ascertain required effort from within a college football program, provided suggestions on how to create easy to learn terminology, provided a five-step process to acquiring correct pre-snap alignment and executing proper assignments, described tackling techniques, and described block defeat techniques. In this week’s blog I’ll discuss the man-press coverage technique. Man-press is an approach to man coverage wherein the covering defender, typically a defensive back, is aligned near the line of scrimmage and directly across from the receiver he's assigned to cover intending to disrupt the timing of the opponent's passing game by dictating the receivers release.1 At the snap of the ball the defender covers, or follows closely, the receiver intending to prevent the receiver from catching any passes thrown to or near him. In part one of this two-part blog I'll describe the man-press defender's alignment, stance, key, and start.

Proper Man-Press alignment and stance.2
  • Alignment: The defender aligns himself slightly inside the receivers he’s assigned to cover and approximately a yard and a half off, or down field, of the receiver.3 I teach defenders to put their nose on the receiver's inside eye to help establish the correct inside shade alignment.
  • Stance: The defender stands across from the receiver with his feet armpit width apart, his weight evenly distributed on the inside balls of both feet, his knees are slightly bent to the point that his knees are directly over his toes, he bends at the waist on a 45 degree angle to the point that his shoulders are over his knees, his back is flat, his elbows are bent slightly, his hands are relaxed and head is up facing the receiver. When properly executed this stance results in the defenders nose over his toes.2
  • Key:  The key for any defender playing man coverage his assigned man.  Prior to the snap, the defender locks his eyes onto the inside hip of the receiver.  That hip becomes the defenders pre-snap key, i.e. what he is looking at just before and after the snap to help him determine what technique he will employ to accomplish his assignment.
  • Start:  Now that the defender is properly aligned and in the proper stance with his eyes on his key he is ready for the ball to be snapped and for the receiver to release from the line of scrimmage. The defenders starts by taking a four inch hop-step backwards moving his feet outward to shoulder width, leaving the rest of the defender's body staying generally in the stance position.
It should be noted here that what I’ve described above is general technique that can be, and often is, altered depending on a litany of variables to include personnel ability, field position, the game situation, opponent tendencies etc. In part 2 of this blog, I will describe the technique involved in playing man-press coverage after the start which will include; hip movement, hand placement, the kick-step, eye discipline, the mirror technique and playing the hands.   


1donkeypunch22. (2013, July 2).  DB Play Man Press Coverage by Chris Ash @ Iowa State 2011 [Video file]. Retrieved from
2Martin, D. (2015, April). UCLA Secondary Play. Speech presented at UCLA Coaches Clinic, Los Angeles

3Wilson, B (2011, August). Fundamentals of Press-Man Techniques for Cornerbacks. Retrieved from

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