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How Receivers Beat Man-to-Man Coverage

Man-to-man coverage in American football is a style in which one football player guards (or defends) another. The defender covers a single receiver no matter where he runs. His responsibility is to make sure the receiver doesn’t catch a pass.

Here’s what the receiver has to do to beat man-to-man coverage:

  1. When the center snaps the ball, the receiver must bring his arms and hands up to his face just like a fighter would.

    The receiver wants to prevent the defensive player from putting his hands into his chest by counter-punching his attempts.

  2. After the receiver fights off the defensive back’s hands, he must dip his shoulder and take off running.

    This technique is called dip and rip because the receiver dips his shoulder and rips through the defender’s attempt to hold or shove him with a strong punch.

Another method of defeating man-to-man coverage is to use the swim technique:

  1. The receiver’s arms and hands are still in the same position as the dip and rip, and the receiver must again get his hands up in a boxing position.

  2. At the snap of the ball, instead of lowering his shoulder and ripping through, the receiver tries to slap the defensive back’s hands one way while heading in the opposite direction.

  3. When the defensive back reacts, the receiver uses his free arm and takes a freestyle stroke (raises an arm up and forward and then brings it back to the side) over the defensive back while trying to pull the arm back underneath and behind him.

    This entire action takes a split second. With the swim technique, it’s critical that the receiver doesn’t allow the defensive back to catch his arm and grab hold under his armpit to prevent him from running downfield.

Bigger, stronger receivers use the dip and rip method, whereas smaller, faster receivers usually use the swim technique.

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