Simple Defensive Back Reads
When you are in man coverage there are some simple reads your defensive backs can use to determine when a receiver is going to break his pattern off. Most youth football receivers do not have the body control or training of a Jerry Rice and are usually fairly simple to read.
Most youth football receivers will start to flail their arms as they come into a break. Train your defensive backs to watch for less fluid or jerky arm movements. When the arms start coming above the shoulders or across the body it usually means the receiver is coming into a break and time for the man defender to close his cushion.
Another simple key is stride length, when a receiver is about to come into a break, he will shorten his stride length quite a bit and often accompany the shortened stride with less fluid arm movements.
We like to practice these reads on one on one individual drills of receivers against defensive backs. Once the kids seem to have a good grasp of these reads, go to a defensive skeleton drill of defensive backs, receivers and running backs set up in your base defense against the typical offensive formations you see. When in man coverage the Corner’s will be reading their keys, a down or reach block means a run read and we are looking for a quick run fit to the gap our defense calls for. When the Corner reads a stalk block, he keeps the receiver at arms length, looks into the backfield to play the ball and get off the block as quickly as he can. When he sees a pass pattern read he looks for several keys including the players arm movement and stride length, based on the pattern read the receiver will close his cushion or open his hips.
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