Playing defense in pickup football? You might as well serve a salad at the post-game spread.
The idea of denying the offense might be implausible, but done right, you can change the nature of the game by getting into the heads of your opponents, which is really as much a tradition as the game itself.
Bob Davie, ESPN college football analyst, explains how.
1. Recruit Speed and Endurance
Forget about size. It’s overrated and useless in a non-tackling game. “This is basketball on grass. I want a bunch of point guards out there who can disrupt you,” Davie says.
2. Make it Personal
Scrap any plans to play zone. It’s too complicated and leaves too many openings. Besides, it’s soft. “Real men play man,” Davie says. Put that on T-shirts and wear them as a badge of honor. You’ll set the expectation level for the other team and attempt to embarrass them into not going for trick plays. Then play stick-to-him man-to-man, and, unless someone’s getting totally schooled, stay with the same match-ups. The game is now crystallized into individual battles with the ability to keep score and motivation to play defense. “How many balls did the guy catch? That’s what I’m locked on.”
3. Play Immediate Touch
At the snap, get your hands right into your man’s chest, allowing him no cushion or running start off the line. Making him go sideways throws off his timing and any plans for the offense to run their cute crossing patterns and laterals.
4. Don’t Look Back
Keep your man in front of you, since there’s no backup, and keep your eyes locked on him, not the quarterback with his pump fakes and flea flickers. “There’s deception back there,” Davie says. Again, keep it simple. “All you have to worry about is where your guy goes.” One thing to remember: If two receivers are converging, beware of a pick. Keep one defender tight on his man and have the other back off, so both of you can maneuver easily.