Purpose:

To teach players the correct technique for soft zone coverage.

Setup:

Have players pair off with a teammate and form a line, with the first pair stepping up with the WR on the LOS and the DB 2 yards inside and 6-8 yards back off the line.

DB backpedaling and keeping their butt to the sideline, getting ready to execute the zone flip technique.

Instructions:

  • On the coach’s signal, the WR will release off the line, moving outside to the sideline. The DB will backpedal, keeping their eyes on the inside, eventually turning their butt to the sideline and looking over the inside shoulder as they squeeze the receiver out to the sideline.

Coaching Tips:

  • The reason we align about 6-8 yards off the line is to not give away the coverage pre-snap to the QB – they won’t be able to identify whether the DB is in loose man to man or zone coverage just by looking at their pre-snap positioning.
  • In man-press coverage we take away the inside with the jam on the line, but in zone, we will take away the inside release simply from our alignment.
  • When in zone, we want our DBs to be able to see the whole picture – they should be able to see both the receiver’s release and transition through their routes as well as the QB’s eyes and shoulder. As they watch the routes develop and the QB’s shoulder, they should be able to get an advantage and see where the ball is going, plant a foot and drive forward to make a play on the ball.
  • One of the advantages of zone coverage is that since the DB has their eyes on the QB at the snap, they are in a much better position to help on a run or play to the inside, as they will have more awareness as to what is happening at the LOS than they would in a man scheme.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Emphasize the importance of keeping eyes on the quarterback and receiver simultaneously to anticipate the play.
  • Practice backpedaling techniques to maintain balance and speed while covering the receiver.
  • Teach them to recognize different route patterns and adjust their coverage accordingly.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Refine their flip technique to quickly switch from backpedaling to running alongside the receiver, maintaining tight coverage.
  • Focus on reading the quarterback’s eyes and shoulders for clues on the passing direction.
  • Develop advanced footwork skills for quick direction changes while maintaining close coverage on the receiver.