Catch a football?! That’s easy, you say. You just stick your hands up and grab the football out of the air, right? Not so fast! All that matters in the end is that you catch the football right? Well, not exactly. If you want to be a good receiver, you need to learn how to not only catch the football, but also the proper techniques for catching it. Here is why. If you catch the football using proper technique, it will be easier to tuck it away for running. Not getting the football tucked could result in a fumble. Not only that, but if you use improper technique for catching the football, you will not consistently make catches. You will drop a lot of passes that should have been caught.
Here are a few tips for catching a football correctly.
#1 – If you are facing the ball as it is approaching you above waist height, form a triangle with your two hands, palms out, placing the tips of your thumbs on opposing hands together and the tips of your index fingers on opposing hands together. Your pinkies and other fingers should be slightly spread out, but pointed in the direction of the football. Reach your hands out towards the ball and catch it with your fingers away from your body. Be sure to use your fingers and not your palms. A football that is thrown hard, will often bounce right off of your palms. As the ball makes contact with your body, squeeze the ball and in one swift motion, tuck it under your arm. Preferably you will want to tuck it under the arm that is closest to the sideline and away from defenders who will be trying to strip it from you. Yes, there is a proper way to tuck the ball also. More on that in a later post.
#2 – If the ball was thrown low and you will have to make the catch below waist height, your pinkies should go together, palms up, with your thumbs facing outward. Again, squeeze the ball and tuck it.
#3 – If you are catching the ball on the run and it is coming over your shoulder, reach both hands out, palms up with your pinkies touching, thumbs out, and other fingers extended. Squeeze and tuck the ball as soon as possible.
#4 – Always watch the ball all the way into your hands. When you can see a defender coming with your peripheral vision or hear footsteps, it is tempting to look away, but you must force yourself to concentrate on making the catch. You cannot run with the ball if you do not first catch it.
#5 – Always use two hands whenever possible. Sometimes the only way to make a catch is by diving or using one hand. Most of the time, however it is possible to get two hands on the football. Don’t try to be the hero by making a one handed grab when it was possible to use two hands. No one will think you are the hero, if you drop a catchable pass.
#6 – Be aware of the sidelines. You don’t have to take your eyes off the ball to do this. Just know where you are in relation to the sidelines. The more you play, the better feel you will get for this.
#7 – Practice, practice, practice. You know what they say…practice makes perfect. No. Perfect practice makes perfect. Get your Dad to throw you some passes. Ask him to make sure you are catching the ball using correct form. The more passes you catch, the better you will get. As you get better, have him throw the ball just out of reach, so you can practice diving for it. Have him throw it to you from different angles and at different velocities. If you really want to get good, have your Dad or a friend throw you 200 – 300 passes a day, every day.