Defensive Back Tips: The Fundamentals of Pass Coverage

As a safety or cornerback, you need to learn how to read a receiver and take the right steps to cover a route runner.

August 25, 2017

Defensive backs need to focus on controlling the passing game. That’s why the initial read of the receiver is so important to good pass coverage.

To read the receiver, focus on their hips in the first few steps of your backpedal as the ball is snapped. You should not be looking at the receiver’s shoulders, head or any other body motions. This can throw you off track, allowing the receiver to be wide open.

Make sure to keep the receiver in front of you, so that if they make a break, you can react quickly and make the break with them. The sooner that you can read the route of the receiver, the better coverage you can provide and the greater chance you have to interrupt the play.

In zone coverage, take your initial three-step backpedal, then shuffle your feet within your assigned zone, keeping your eyes inside on the quarterback. Your head should be on a swivel, looking for a receiver to come in your zone, ready to make a play.

Now, learn how to cover a receiver on long routes and short routes and discover the drills you can use at practice to help improve those skills with our man-to-man pass coverage tips.