3 Common Mistakes in Press Man and How to Fix Them

By: Chad Wilson
All Eyes DB Camp

Press man coverage has become an essential skill for defensive backs looking to excel in the secondary. It involves a certain array of physical skills, but more so it requires consistent technique to be good at it.

In this article, we will examine three common mistakes that defensive backs make in press coverage and how to correct them.

Eyes in the Wrong Place

As defensive backs, we win with our eyes whether we are playing zone or man coverage. Having your eyes in the wrong place while playing press is basically a recipe for failure. From the start, a defensive back should be focused on having his eyes on the hips of the wide receiver.

Many defensive backs will not hone in on this detail and align with their eyes looking at either the chest or the face of the receiver they are covering. Doing this will cause you to overreact to the moves the receiver makes coming off the ball. A defensive back with his eyes high in press man is a defensive back that will get fooled.

Make it a point to lock your eyes onto the receiver’s hips when you align. Furthermore, you need to keep your eyes there once the ball is snapped and the receiver moves. If you are struggling with keeping your eyes on the hips after the ball is snapped, try looking at the receiver’s feet from the beginning. For some defensive backs, this is necessary as they have a normal reaction to pick their head up once the ball is snapped. If this is you, it may help you to start with your eyes on his feet, and then your normal reaction of picking your head up will bring your eyes to his hips where they need to be. Yes, this may seem awkward to some, but amazingly it works for many.

Splitting Feet at the Line

Watch defensive backs playing press man coverage and you have undoubtedly noticed defensive backs jumping at the snap of the ball and splitting their feet open. This is a common error made in press man coverage.

Typically, this comes from two things. First, the defensive back’s eyes are in the wrong place, focusing on the receiver’s shoulders or face. Second, the defensive back is aligned too close to the receiver. When either or both of these things are happening, there will be an overreaction to any move by the wide receiver. For many, that overreaction is moving both feet simultaneously in an effort to defend both an inside or outside move by the receiver. What ends up happening is a defensive back with his feet outside of his base, with no balance or force to move with the receiver as he exits the line of scrimmage. This could lead to him stumbling at the line or ending up in a trail position immediately. Needless to say, neither one of those things is in the defensive back’s favor.

To correct this common error, make it a focus to have your eyes in the right place as you align. Second, align far enough off the wide receiver to have a normal reaction to his first move while also being close enough to either strike him or move him off the straight line he wants to run on. I recommend starting with aligning a yard and a half off the receiver. From there, you can make your adjustments. Be consistent in where you align so you can have consistent results.

Opening the Gate

This is perhaps the most common press coverage mistake made by defensive backs, especially young ones. This mistake is born out of fear. The defensive back either fears the speed of the receiver he is covering, or he fears that his technique is not adequate enough to cover the man.

So instead of making an effort to cut the receiver off or jam him at the line, the defensive back will open up right away, in an effort to prepare himself to run deep with the receiver. The problem with this is that not only does this not work when the route is short or intermediate, it’s also ineffective versus deep routes. When you open the gate, you turn the route into a track meet. So if the receiver is faster than you, you are playing into his hands, and he will likely win on the deep route. Furthermore, you are leaving more space for him to track and catch the ball in bounds on a route. The truth of the matter is that the job of the wide receiver is to get your hips opened and your shoulders turned. The sooner you do that, the better for him.

Fixing this problem is going to require some work from you. You will need to spend some time working on proper pressman techniques. This ranges from training your eyes to learning a proper kick slide to learning proper motor and mirror techniques if that’s what you want to use. Either way, developing the proper technique will prevent you from being an “open the gate” guy. Open the gate guys are very inconsistent in press, so there is no long-term future in making this your main technique.

In Conclusion

There are other mistakes that are made when in press coverage. It is one of the more difficult things that a defensive back must do. However, these are the most common of those mistakes. Eliminating them from your game puts you on the path to being a solid pressman corner and one that can be relied upon by his coaches and teammates.

For more information on press coverage and being consistent as a defender, check out my book “101 DB Tips”. It has over 100 of the best DB tips you’ll find anywhere and will undoubtedly improve your technique in all areas of playing defensive back. Click here to order your copy.

Author: Chad Wilson

Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

You must be logged in to post a comment