This topic comes up fairly frequently and — while coaches have many different views on this — I am pretty set in how I think a receiver stance should look. The two most important things in the stance are to (1) get off the line quickly and (2) be balanced enough to deal with press coverage. Some coaches try to use different stances to accomplish this but given how unpredictable defenses can be, I don’t think you can swap stances.
Much of getting off the line involves two factors related to the stance and feet — namely avoiding false steps (having to take an initial step that doesn’t get you anywhere) and being in position to burst off of the line. On the other hand, defeating press coverage is typically about the receiver having certain moves he is good at, threatening the defender with his release immediately, and using his hands.
There is much to say about specific receiver techniques for releases themselves and obviously route-running itself, but the stance is the foundation for all of it.
For the stance itself, I don’t want it to be too much of a crouched sprinter stance, nor too upright and rigid. It should be a flexible, natural stance, recognizing that while the vast majority of time the most important thing for the receiver is to get vertical as quickly as possible, dealing with press man and taking other releases (either inside or outside) are integral parts of the repertoire and the stance should both lend themselves to those moves and not give anything away before the snap. Here are my coaching points for what I like.
- Inside foot up, flat on the ground but weight slightly on the toes. 80% of weight on front foot, 20% on back foot.
- Back foot heel is slightly off the ground, about an inch. Back foot is just under a foot behind the front foot. Needs to be comfortable. Back leg should be slightly bent, so not so far back that it needs to be straight.
- Feet are underneath the armpits.
- Front knee is over the front foot toes.
- Chest is over the knee and over the toes.
- Chin, turned inside, also ends up over the chest which is over the knees and over the toes.
- Hands relaxed/player preference. I like them sort of three-quarters down one-quarter up with tension ready to come up. If you get true press you can bring your hands up, but I don’t like it when kids line up with their elbows tucked in and hands making a little triangle before the snap. Too unnatural.
- On the snap, push off the back toes to roll and then press off the front foot to explode upfield.
This is the best way I know how to teach it. Below is a pretty decent example from Auburn:
Nothing fancy, but should be very natural. The receivers in the image above have their hands up, but to me that is a preference thing. I would like to see their knees slightly further forward to be over more over their toes, however, but it’s close. The best guys to watch for releases are some of the very elite pro-receivers, though watch out for the guys who get by just on incredible athletic ability. They likely have very good technique but have so many other advantages like great size, strength or unmatched speed it’s hard to tell. Larry Fitzgerald is a good model for any young receiver.
Of course, if you want to bring back the old three-point stance for receivers, I won’t get in your way.