Strong Safety Vs Free Safety In Football

Many fans of football are familiar with what a safety is. But most are not sure what the difference is between strong safeties and free safeties. Luckliy this article is on hand to break everything you need to know about strong safety vs free safety.

Responsibilities SS vs FS

Traditionally strong safeties were known as the larger of the two safeties and were more responsible for stopping the run. While free safeties were more commonly responsible for pass coverage. Though in todays NFL pass friendly teams have forced both safeties into playing large amounts of pass coverage.

Strong safeties are also more commonly known to cover tight ends. This is because they line up on the strong side of the formation. But as tight ends have become more similar to wide receivers both safeties have picked up this responsibility.


The reason strong safeties typically played against the run is because they lined up on the strong side of the football. The strong side is determined by which side of the formation has more players on it. Meaning if the tight end is on the right side of the line then the right side would be considered the strongside.

At the beginning of most plays, the strong safety will line up on the strong side of the field while the free safety will line up on the weak side of the play.


Nowadays the traits of safeties are very similar this is also due to the increase of passing in the sport. You may find that the strong safeties are the better tacklers. And that free safeties are a little better at breaking up passes.

Though it is not always the case you may also find the strong safety is the big hitter of the two. Typically carrying a little more weight this safety is more likely to come down and deliver a big hit on a running back or receiver.


The build of these two positions is one of the largest differences in these safety positions. The strong safety is going to be the bigger of the two. This goes back to his run defense duties and his tendency to play more in the box.

Strong safeties will also be relied on to beat blocks of tight ends on running plays. This is common because tight ends line up on the strong side of the formation. To beat blocks from tight ends you typically need to have some decent size to you. This is another reason why strong safeties have a larger build.

The free safety on the other hand is going to lighter and a bit faster than a strong safety. Both safeties need speed to cover in today’s NFL but you will find the Free safety is typically faster.

The free safety will need to rely on this speed in order to stay over the top of speed receivers. Free safeties are often the player deep in the field making sure the deep passes aren’t completed. They will also need to rely on this speed to move laterally across the field.

We hope you enjoyed our guide to strong safety vs free safety. If you have any more questions about these positions please reach out in the comments.

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