Beating Press Coverage in Football with Bunch Formations and Motion


With coverages getting tougher and tougher in today’s game, offenses are seeing more and more press coverages. While receivers are being coached to handle it better, in high school football especially you might get some tough matchups. Beating press coverages is becoming more of a priority for offenses.

Their are two popular strategies to handling press coverage, and sometimes they are used in combination. Receivers bunched together (two or more) and motion. My favorite is motion, but that’s because teams I’ve been apart of haven’t used many bunch looks.

Motion I feel is easier because you can simply use return motion to force a cornerback out of press coverage.

Using Motion to Beat Press Coverage in Football

Motion is relatively a simple concept. You take one eligible receiver and move them around the offense. Their is a lot of ways to put someone in motion using just about every system, so I won’t worry about that. Specifically, we’ll talk about a few types of motion.

Return Motion to Beat Press Coverage in Football

Return motion is one of my favorites because it is often underutilized. There are many reasons to run return motion.

  • Identify Coverage
  • Break/Hide a Tendency
  • Escape the Press
  • Gain Field Leverage
  • And more
Beating Press Coverage with Return Motion

Return Motion vs Press Coverage

We will be focusing on escaping football’s press coverage, identifying the particular coverage and gaining leverage. A team can run press in many different ways. They can shade you inside or outside. Their can be a safety over the top or in the middle of the field.

In regards to gaining leverage, if you are fairly certain the defender won’t give you leverage and is in a press look, particularly on the outside, indicating cover 2 to that side, return motion may give you the ability to get outside of that player.


“50” is the number on the field. The receive works inside the numbers, changing corner alignment rules.

The receiver motions inside for a few steps, either at a slow pace before coming back outside. Now, the outside break before the snap can happen slow or fast, it’s up to you. But if I’m trying to gain leverage, I want it to be fast.

Now, some teams who play a lot of cover 2 will still be hard to get outside of. You can try widening the split of the receiver outside the numbers. The corner will more than likely play inside the receiver at that point. Have the receiver work inside the numbers with the return motion, and then come outside for a step before the snap. The corner will need to remember to transition his alignment from inside to outside, and will need to be able to reroute a moving target. By doing this, you can quickly attack the dead spot in cover two with a vertical route by #1. Also, this shows a tendency then breaks it. If you normally run really wide splits on running plays, you can do this on both a pass or run to help mess with that presnap tendency. Again, we want to create hesitation, even for moment, on the defender. This will help even the matchup.

Using Across Motion to Force Defender Rotation

If you find a team pressing you, you can start on one side of the motion and go to the other. Some teams will run go corners over, bringing the corner, but then if you run the motion fast he will be unlikely to press.

In other scenarios versus press coverage, across motion will get your receiver matched up on a linebacker or safety, who are both unlikely to utilize press coverage techniques.

Using Bunch Formations

Bunch formations make it hard for teams to press. If they do, you can hold receivers from their route for a moment and pick or clear defenders with the route concepts.


Using Compressed Formations Discourages Press Coverage. If they use press still, use pick and rub concepts.

Bunch formations come in many different formats, not just the traditional trips bunch look. You can have two receiver bunch with a backfield member or tight end nearby. You can use it in Wing offenses with the tight end, wing, and either a receiver or running back.

Versus tight splits by receivers, teams will either run a generic zone or an off man type technique where they may switch routes depending on which receiver goes inside or outside first.

Your goal, overall, again is to prevent press coverage. If you find you are still getting it, use pick concepts or combine this with motion, and it should take care of your press coverage issue.

The problem with bunch is you may need to add new terminology and plays to get it done. That’s why I prefer motion in regards to beating press coverage. However, if you already use this technique, it could work well.

Conclusions on Beating Press Coverage

Overall, press coverage can be a matchup nightmare for offenses. However, with just a little creativity, you could be off to the races and create nightmares for the defense. Not every team will show it, but you should be working on beating press coverage from the summer on, whether that’s with technique or formations or motion.