Thursday, October 6, 2011


In this post I will focus on defending the trips side of a 3x1 formation. There are certain considerations that need to be made when planning out a strategy for dealing with trips. Here is the good news, usually, defending 3x1 is much easier than defending 2x2 formations. The defenses that have trouble with 3x1 formations are usually defenses that prefer to play the game with balanced fronts/coverages (hence the discomfort with the overload that trips create) or don't understand that defending trips like anything else is a risk reward game. The defense cannot stop everything, every play. The goal is to have the defense in the best position to defend the most likely range of plays the offense can run in a particular situation. Lets look at some different options you can run towards trips.

1. A Cover 3 concept.
2. An X-out concept like Special
3. A Pattern-match coverage with a safety poaching #3 (solo)
4. The Classic: Straight up Man or Man-Free

Using these 4 options we can up with a plan for handling trips in a general strategy. I am not gonna get to much into the technique or scheme of each of these, the links provided offer that. The first thing to consider is disguise.


Disguising coverage in football is done in 2 primary ways.

1. Stemming and Moving around constantly every play to the extent that the offense does not know what you are in pre-snap

2. Show the same look every-time and then stem to your coverage right before the snap.

Either approach can work, but I will discuss the 2nd because it will easier to explain, and in my opinion is easier to execute.

I like running 2-Solo, so I prefer to base my trips look out of that.

From this look you can stem and work into the other looks without much difficulty.

Lets look at the others.

Looking at these alignments it should be evident that there is not too much movement involved in the stemming of each.

Again these are simple examples, but even in their simplicity they can be difficult for the typical High School QB to read. The other disguise principal involves the movement of the SS. Since it is harder for the SS to align himself out of position, he can be the defenses most liberal person stemming. He can move around, show blitz, man, ect.


This comes down to game-planning. The generic rule is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each coverage. Here is a simple list. It is not complete nor detailed, but sufficient to illustrate the point.

Ideally, the defense wants to be in a coverage that best defends what the offense is trying to do. If the defense expects run toward the trips, then 3-Mable or 2-Solo are best. If the defense is worried about middle and quick game, then cover 1 is the best bet. Finally, if the single WR is a concern, then special bracket is optimal.

No matter what trips coverages the defense has in its package, they need to be coordinated and planned. The best way to protect each one is to mix them up and have a sound disguise for them. This post was a simplistic look at disguising and calling different coverages to trips. If anyone has any questions about anything let me know in the comment section.