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How to Beat Press Coverage In Football

Press coverage can be very frustrating for receivers, coaches, and quarterbacks. If a receiver does not know how to get off of a jam, the play’s timing is instantly disrupted. Beating press coverage is a unique technique that requires skill and quickness.

Press coverage is won by disengaging the defender’s hands and gaining inside or outside leverage to get around the defender. Receivers must be both aggressive with their hands and quick with their feet to win at the line of scrimmage against a pressed corner.

Before we learn how to beat press coverage, we have first to learn what press coverage is. Familiarize yourself with press coverage first here.

In a nutshell, press coverage is a way for the defense to disrupt both the quarterback’s and the wide receiver’s timing.

In the vIQtory series of exploring the arsenal of moves each positional group can employ, today we are looking at Wide Receivers and specifically how they can combat press coverage.

The Basics Of Press Coverage

Receivers are lined up in a 2-point stance separate from the Offensive Line, typically spread out toward the boundary. They also can be lined up on the line of scrimmage or off, depending upon the formation. The formation can also call for multiple receivers to be on one side of the ball. When a receiver is not the outermost receiver to his side of the field, he is said to be a “slot” receiver.

Wide Receiver Stance

The standard approach is to have the inside foot forward in the stance. Coaches usually teach 80 percent of the receiver’s weight is on his front foot so that once the ball is snapped, the receiver cannot rock back or false step. With the weight heavily distributed on the front foot, receivers are now able to “roll over” their front foot and get into their route once the ball is snapped by driving the back knee forward and pushing off the ball of his foot.

Some more pointers:

  • Chin over the front knee (strong, forward-leaning stance)
  • Hands at the ready (will need to engage with the DB)
  • Feet are typically about shoulder-width apart, but when facing the press, some coaches will teach to narrow the base of the receiver’s stance
  • Feet must be able to come to parallel (this helps with balance)

The Mindset When Facing Press Coverage

Receivers need to be comfortable when trying to beat press coverage. Press coverage is just a technique, and with proper coaching and drills (preparation), it can be overcome.

  • Take the time to get into the proper stance and be able to look down the line of scrimmage and to the Quarterback.
  • Assess the DB, the technique they are showing
  • Decide on the footwork and hand combat techniques you will be employing to run your route (detailed below)
  • Execute at all costs and learn from what worked and what did not

Footwork Before Making Contact

Beat press coverage with your feet! Once the ball is snapped, the first thing that moves should be the receivers back leg driving forward. With the battle between the receiver and the defensive back beginning, below are some of the most common styles of footwork a receiver can engage in:

Foot-Fire Release

  • While beginning to drive upfield, the receiver’s feet go up and down rapidly to generate movement to get into the stem of the route.
  • See this link for a video that focuses on the technique.

One-Step Jab

  • As the receiver begins his route upfield, he will plan to step opposite of where the route is intended.  For example, a receiver would step outside on an inside route and inside on an outside route before making his break
  • The idea is to have the defensive back turn his hips and shoulders on the wrong stride, which opens up the room for the receiver to run his route
  • Check out this link to see it in action and a drill for it
via USA Football

Speed Release

  • A speed release is a release at all costs.  A receiver must now take whatever angle he needs to in order to get underneath or outside of the defensive back (depending on the route).

Hand Combat

Beat press coverage with your hands!

The receiver’s hands have to work in unison with their hands. Quick and effective handwork can prove to be the most vital piece of beating press coverage.

Hand combat is essential because if you can beat a defensive back’s hands as they try to jam you, it will more than likely throw them off balance.

The more techniques a wide receiver can use, the better off they will be. A great place to start is with the following:

Hammer or Chop

The simplest of techniques a receiver can use.  The receiver brings his arms up using one or both arms and slams his forearms down on top of the defensive back’s hands.  

Club and Rip

Much like hand combat used by defensive linemen, this move has two steps.

  • Step 1 is to step toward the opposite of side of the direction you want to move toward. As that foot hits the ground, move your opposite arm to club the defensive backs hands down.
  • Step 2 is to take your next step which is toward the direction you want to head and use your opposite arm to rip past the defender.

Also Note:

  • Instead of using a “Club and Rip” move, a receiver can club and then use a swim move
  • When “clubbing” defensive back’s hands, another striking point can be the elbow, as it’s a bigger target
  • The club move will get the defender off balance and should open the window for the secondary move to get separation


Beating press coverage is a skill that can be developed over time. It takes multiple reps and the ability to know what hand the defender is going to throw first.

Next, lateral footwork is necessary to shake the defender loose to get by them. Players should consistently work on foot speed and put themselves in situations to beat press coverage. This way, if they face it during the game, they can easily beat it.

What do you think about our tactics to beat press coverage? How do you beat press coverage? How are you being taught/teach your receivers to beat the press? We love learning new ways to beat the press. Let us know in the comments below!

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