Free Safety vs Strong Safety: What Are The Differences?

Free safety vs strong safety: There are frequently four players in the secondary when football teams use standard defensive formations. There will be two cornerbacks and two safeties in this squad. While both of the latter roles are safety, there is a difference between the 2 positions that give them a slight distinction. Here is a complete comparison of the two terms. Read on!

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Strong Safety

A linebacker and a corner combined to form the position of strong safety. Although stopping the run is their main duty, they are also required to defend and blitz on passing plays.

They are referred to as strong safety since they align themselves with the offensive team’s “strong side.” In other words, they’ll stand on the part of the field where most of the attacking players are standing. Compared to free safety, they frequently queue up nearer to the line of scrimmage because of their defensive duty.

This lets them be prepared to halt the run while simultaneously blitzing or covering tight ends and running backs on passing plays.

SS tends to be bigger and stronger than FS and has a more linebacker-like build. They can swiftly attack the offensive thanks to their ability to shed blockers.

As they frequently cover a large portion of the field and play a crucial role in both the rushing and passing games, SS also has to be speedy.

Free Safety

In comparison to strong safeties, this position is very different. They are usually smaller, quicker, and more resemble cornerbacks in terms of build.

On passing plays, the defensive player who would “guard” the quarterback is known as a free safety. The free safety is unrestricted in his ability to blitz or assist other players with pass coverage because the quarterback frequently stays in the pocket.

When running plays are in progress, free safeties frequently remain unobstructed, enabling them to advance and launch an attack.

Based on the defensive play and system, they often line up ten to fifteen yards behind the scrimmage line and might be given a variety of duties.

The final defensive line on a football field is comprised of FS, who are well-recognized for their pass-covering abilities. The majority of them will recline, scan the area, then launch an assault when necessary.

They come up, sidestep blockers, and make crucial blocks on running plays. They are also crucial in preventing the run.


Difference between free safety vs strong safety


The fact that strong safeties stand on the powerful side of the field explains why they often played against the run. Whichever part of the setup has the most players on it will be the strong side. The right side would be regarded as the strong side if the tight end was on the right side of the line.

Most plays start with the SS lining up on the powerful side of the field and the free safety lining up on the weak side.

free safety vs strong safety


Today’s strong vs free safety shares a lot of the same characteristics. This is also a result of the sport’s increased passing. You might discover that powerful safeties are better at tackling. Additionally, free safeties are a little more effective at intercepting passes.

Even if this isn’t usually the case, you might discover that strong safety is the more potent of the two. This player is more likely to come down and land a significant hit on a running back or receiver because he often carries a little more weight.


A smaller and more agile athlete plays the free safety. SS is taller, stronger athletes who can tackle well and play quickly.


In most cases, a player’s build, quickness, and responsibilities determine whether they are free safety or strong safety.

SS will be more in charge of defending receivers and tackling running backs. Besides, the safety will be in control of addressing quarterback-thrown deep throws.

It is thought that SS is a cross between a linebacker and a defensive back. They have a more linebacker-like build and line up on the powerful side of the field. They participate in pass coverage but their main duty is to block the run.

Free safeties differ significantly from the strong safety role. The FS serves more like an additional cornerback (covering professional), who is speedy and capable of covering against long passing plays. Although more pass-minded, they will assist in assisting the run when necessary.


In conclusion, the positions of free safety vs strong safety are comparable with only a few subtle variations. FS is a solo game, but SS is a cooperative game. Free safety defense is the primary duty of one individual, while strong safety defensive players are the joint responsibility of the entire line.

If you want to find out more fascinating articles like this or learn about American football, don’t forget to keep checking back to our American Football Terms website!

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