If you’re looking to build your man-to-man coverage skills, you’ve come to the right place. Shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders and hard-hitting safety Donte Whitner of the Buffalo Bills offer up some practice tips and game time strategies for your next one-on-one match-up.
“Train your eyes”
Speed and agility are important, but your eyes are your most important weapon in man-to-man coverage. “A lot of stuff out there looks like a blur if you’re not focused on what you’re supposed to be,” Whitner says. “You have to know mentally what to focus on, and then focus your eyes on it.”
Whitner practices juggling to improve his focus on the field.
“Focus on the belly button”
An opponent can fake you out with a quick head shake or stutter step, but the core of the body will always be in the direction he’s moving.
Partner up with a teammate after practice, preferably a wide receiver, and have him give you different releases off the line. Repetition is the key to improvement. “After you do something for so long, it’s like muscle repetition,” Whitner says. “The body remembers it, and it ultimately helps your game.”
“Focus on the receiver’s movements”
It’s game time, you’re in man coverage and you should already have the upper hand in the match-up. Be aware of the body language coming from the quarterback and receiver.
“A lot of times [receivers] are doing the same movements to get in and out of breaks,” Asomugha says. “If you can see them getting high before they break, you can break before them.”