Man-to-man (3-1-1)

The Man-to-man defense is one of the most simple defenses to install in your team’s playbook. Assign each defender to a player that they can follow around the field, and tell them to lock down that one player. This assignment will remove distractions and some of the potentially confusing aspects of playing defense, because each defender has a clear single purpose in mind for each play. Namely, “don’t let my guy catch the ball.”

This play pits athlete on athlete. If you feel like your team is more athletic than your opponents, then a Man-to-man defense is a great selection in order to ensure that your athletic superiority maintains control of the field. The simplicity of this play will provide zero room for any miscommunications or missed assignments.

Sometimes it can be a good strategic decision to consistently keep your safeties in the same pre-snap lineup position in order to disguise your defensive play call. For example, if you line your Safeties deep in the field, it might trick the opposing QB that they are preparing to play in a deep zone defense instead of playing man-to-man. When you are playing man-to-man, however, don’t get too carried away with your safety disguises if it means that you are putting your players in a difficult location to perform their responsibilities. Allow your safeties to cheat up closer to the line of scrimmage so that they can be in a better position to closely guard their man.

It is very possible to stick with this play all throughout the game, however, occasionally mixing in a zone play with this man-to-man may cause confusion in your opponents resulting in either an opportunity for you to capitalize, or at least creating some discomfort in the offense by keeping them from being able to relax. Nonetheless, specializing in a strong man-to-man strategy is something that many defenses can easily focus on and use to their advantage throughout the season.

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