How to Catch a Football – Basics

Catching a football may look easy, but it’s more than just receiving the ball. In football, catching and carrying a ball are vital skills.

Learning the proper ways on how to catch a football is fundamental, thus following these methods will help you master the skill.

Catching A Football Using Your Hands

Catching a ball with the hands is basically common sense. However, there are factors that hinder you from accomplishing your goal, which is to make a good catch.

The most basic thing that you need to learn is catching a ball using your hands rather than your arms or body.

When you use your hands, you have a greater chance of keeping a firm grip on the ball. 

Also, using your hands will most likely lessen the chance of the ball to bounce back because of the pads you’re wearing.

You can easily tuck the ball away when it’s secured or when you have a good grip of it. Once you already tucked the ball, the other team will have a hard time stripping it away from you.

Mastering how to catch a ball with your hands gives you an advantage such as jumping for the ball instead of waiting for it to fall.

Proper Hand Positioning

Hand positioning is important when catching a ball. You must position your hands correctly in order for you to catch the ball.

Here are two ways on how to position your hands the right way:

#1: When the football is above your waist, create a triangle shape using your hands. The index fingers and thumbs of your hands must be bonded together to make a triangle, but keep your fingers wide for you to grab and hold the whole ball.

#2: When the ball is below your waist, put the tip of both your pinky fingers to create a net-like figure below your knees.

Your fingers must be pliable. They should be bent a little and ready to take the impact and speed of the ball.

Your hands, wrists, arms, and fingers will serve as an impact absorbent to control and reduce the bounce that the ball will produce.

Look for the Tip and Catch the Body

If you’re about to catch the ball in the air, find its tip and target the body of the ball. Focus on the tip, but always grab its body.

One way to practice this technique is coloring the tips of three footballs. Find a partner to throw the ball for you and shout the color before catching.

This technique will help you focus on the ball’s tip and create a habit.

Focus on the Ball

Looking at the ball in is a catching skill in which you focus on the ball before and once you have it.

There are a lot of instances where catchers missed the ball right before they got to secure it even if it was perfectly passed because they focused on other useless things.

Goal and Score

A good catcher has both strong hands as well as strong feet. As soon as you have a good hold of the ball, always tuck away the ball and move on. A good catcher catches well, but he can also go on for a long distance.

Practice for Perfection

Although there are so many ways to strengthen your hands, arms, feet, and body, the only key to be the best catcher is to practice and practice until you get the perfect catch.

Football Catching Drills

Below are some of the most effective catching drills you might need to master to improve your catching skills.


Clockwork is a catching drill that requires you to catch a ball that is outside the body in different positions.

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of your partner.
  2. Let your partner hold the ball and imagine yourself as a clock. Let your partner throw the ball in clockwise. Make sure to fully extend your arms when catching the ball.
  3. To move forward, try turning your back and face your partner when you hear his command.

Side Clockwork

Side Clockwork is just like clockwork, but instead of different positions, it should be done in a turned position at all times.

How to do it:

  1. Stand and face away from where your partner is standing.
  2. Let him throw the football from the 12 o’clock hand of the clock to 6 o’clock. Be sure to fully extend your arms when catching the ball.
  3. To more forward, wait for your partner’s command to look back and catch the ball.

Around the World

During the game, you will be in some awkward positions at times, but you still have to catch the ball.

This drill will help you catch the ball even if you are in an awkward situation.

How to do it:

  1. Lay your back flat on the ground. Let your partner throw the ball in every step and let him create a round shape around you.
  2. To move forward, lay your stomach flat on the floor and wait to turn around on your partner’s command.

Hand Circles

Hand Circles is a drill that will help you improve your ball control, hand speed, and grip strength.

How to do it:

  1. Hold the football.
  2. Drop the ball and make a circle around it using your hands.
  3. Gab the ball on its top part ahead before it reaches the ground.
  4. To move forward, do the drill again, but use one eye.

Hand Flips

This drill will improve your hand’s reaction and speed.

How to do it:

  1. Spread and open both of your legs. Using your right arm, hold the football before your right leg and place your left arm after your left leg.
  2. As fast as you can, catch the ball just before it reaches the ground by flipping your right arm under your right leg and left arm before your left leg.
  3. To move forward, do the drill again, but use one eye.

Half Turns

The half turns drill enhances body awareness and reaction while the ball is still in the air.

How to do it:

  1. Turn around, don’t face your partner, and look to your left.
  2. Let your partner throw the ball to the right side and turn your head to the right once the ball is released and catch the ball.
  3. Repeat the same step on the left side.
  4. To move forward, do the same step but catch the ball using just one hand.

Grip Taps

Grip Taps is a drill that will improve your hand gripping, hand strength, and ball catching.

How to do it:

  1. Kneel and hold the ball over your head.
  2. Hold the ball tightly while your partner punches the ball and make sure it won’t fall.


Distraction is a drill that will improve your ball concentration.

How to do it:

  1. Stand beside your partner. Both of you should face to another person.
  2. Let the third person throw the ball.
  3. Your partner will distract you as you try to catch the ball but without touching it.
  4. To move forward, repeat, but this time, do this with just one eye.

Wall Bounce

Wall Bounce will improve your reaction time and hand speed.

How to do it:

  1. Face the wall.
  2. Let your partner throw the ball on the wall.
  3. As the ball bounces, catch it with both of your hands.
  4. To move forward, repeat the same step, but just use one hand.

Criss Cross

This drill will improve your hand and eye connection.

How to do it:

  1. Cross your hands.
  2. Place your right arm on top of your left arm.
  3. To move forward, cross your hands, but place your left arm above your right arm.

Ball Balance

This drill will improve your hand balance and ball concentration.

How to do it:

  1. Place the tip of your ball above your index finger and balance it.
  2. To move forward, repeat this with the other 4 fingers.

Ball Bounce

This drill will improve your timing, and this will also soften your hands.

How to do it:

  1. Hold one ball in each of your hand.
  2. Tell your partner to throw the ball.
  3. Catch it with the use of the balls you’re holding without making a noise.

Ball Squeeze

This drill will improve your hand gripping and hand strength.

How to do it:

  1. Hold the ball with your hands.
  2. Squeeze it like you’re popping it.

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Football is a hard-smashing game that requires great strength. However, pure strength doesn’t work alone at all times. You need to consider others aspects like catching a ball.

Learning how to catch a football perfectly is not easy, and you need a lot of intense training to master the skill. Yet, once catching becomes a habit, it will come out naturally for you.

Set your catch goals high. With the right approach and a bit of hard work, you will master the art of catching a football in no time.