Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mazur's 4 Essential concepts for Receiver Success

Receivers: Four Essential Concepts for Success
by Darrell Mazur
Playing career: University of Manitoba Bisons (75-78)
Coaching career: Churchill H.S., Kelvin H.S, D.M.C.I. -Defensive backs, Kelvin H.S. -Receivers (1980-2001)
Touch Football: Bison Alumni (1978- 80), Sante fe Express(1981- 82,) Winnipeg Assassins (1983-2002)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The following is a short presentation discussing four concepts that are essential for a receiver to be successful, in any form of football. The following will examine defensive back technique, specifically, the breaking of the”cushion,” taking the DB’s side away, reading coverage, and coming back to the ball.

In order to comprehend why a receiver is successful, I would suggest it might be necessary to understand what the Defensive Back is trying to do. In having played, and coached football since 1969, four essential concepts are evident for a receivers success.

To begin, I would recommend that the receiver anticipate “Man” coverage, and have strategies to beat it, and get open. Pattern running vs. zone, requires the ability to read the defenders movement to a location, or their “drop.” The basic defensive back technique in man to man (Cushion) coverage, involves guarding one player, and following him around until the play is over. Therefore, in order to be a successful receiver, and beat the opponent, I would stress the following four points!

1.) Breaking the Cushion
2.) Taking away "the side away"
3.) Recognition of Defensive coverage
4.) Coming back to the ball/Angle to target area

Defensive back technique:
It’s been said in order to defeat one’s enemy, one must know the enemy thoroughly. Therefore, let’s look at some DB fundamentals!!

In order to have some form of stability and advantage, the Defensive back relies on maintaining a “cushion,” alignment, recognizing pattern breaks and knowing the angle of closure/knockdown technique. Defensive "Keys" such as: Knowledge of Offensive tendencies, ball placement on the field (ie. near sideline or hash), knowledge of where "help" is (if any), down and distance and time/score of game, all help to provide clues regarding defensive coverage technique and strategy selection.

Offensively, receivers should be taught to "run to where they ain't"....It should also be understood that "speed kills". If you got it, use it. Those are obvious strategies!!
However, there is always someone faster, and that is when technique is essential.
The following, will provide a description of some of the techniques used by receivers to defeat "man" coverage.

Breaking the Cushion - This refers to the distance between the DB and the Receiver.
DB (DB cushion -7 - 10 yds from the Rec. )

Receivers must try to eliminate the DB's cushion immediately. (The longer a DB can maintain his cushion, the greater chance of success the DB will have covering the receiver)
Why is this? A good receiver will try to close the distance between himself and the DB. The DB is coached to turn his hips and run, when the cushion is broken down. (However, at the moment the DB does turn, the good receiver cuts the opposite way. )
Key Point: Brake cushion + turn DB hips/Feet = RECEIVER SUCCESS.

2.) Taking the side away or Angle of Release :
(Taking the side away that the DB took away) or “Angle of Release”

Outside Shade Inside Shade Head Up
(Good) (Good) (Bad)


Rec. Rec. Rec.


Taking a side away, allows the DB to gain an advantage on the one side, while giving up the other (chase)side to the Receiver. (By not taking a side away, or losing the side, the DB loses any alignment advantage, and is in a poorer position to determine which way the receiver is going, and loses the alignment advantage of any side.

When that occurs, the receiver now has the DB where he wants him,(as the DB must now turn his hips in response to any move the receiver makes.) This obviously sets the defensive back up to respond to fakes. When the DB. "turns" those hips to run, in response to the receiver, the good receivers cut back the opposite way. Therefore, the goal of the receiver is to get the DB in a "head up" or "directly in front of" position, or alignment.

3.) Reading Defensive Coverages

Reading defensive coverages can usually be done by noticing a difference in the positioning of a defender, (ie. inside position and with no cushion ), or by running a man in motion, (and someone follows him)and/or by watching the Safety's alignment. (Whoever is dropping deep, will usually tip it off, and may be running back to the deep zone). No safety deep= Man coverage or Blitz

4.) Coming Back to the Ball

When a Defensive Back has determined the pattern, his "Angle of Closure" or pursuit, is critical for success and in making the play. Knowing tha, if a receiver makes a sharp cut and then comes back to meet the ball, the DB's angle is thrown off, and incorrect. The DB may cause pass interference, should he continue at his original angle, or miss the receiver and ball entirely!!! If the DB eases up, the pass is caught, and perhaps the tackle/touch missed. (The DB's correct angle may be gained by visually determining and anticipating the pattern break, and the eventual arrival point of the ball.) (See Defensive Back skills)

Emphasizing the four techniques of Cushion, Side Away, Reading Defensive Coverage, and Coming Back to the Ball should enable the Receiver to understand and excel at their position.