Wide Receiver Catching Drills you should learn and practice

Jerry Rice, first among all NFL receiving yard leaders, said that he had caught 100 balls every day in his career.

By every day, he meant during football season, practice, weekdays, and weekends. Like Rice, you can succeed if you consistently practice wide receiver catching drills.

Wide Receiver and His Position in the Team

A wide receiver is part of the offensive team. He is named thus as a reference to its position.

He is farthest away from the team and is split out, usually near the sidelines. He is considered to be the key player when it comes to passing plays.

Wide receivers are always considered to be the fastest in the field. Their primary role is to catch the passes given by the quarterback.

During the passing play, they need to outmaneuver, outrun, and avoid defenders.

Only when they are open that the quarterback can pass the ball to them. Once the pass is thrown towards them, their goal is to catch the ball and run downfield.

During running play, wide receivers have two potential roles.

They may run the pass route to draw off defenders or block defensive backs.

Some wide receivers run the ball in the form of end-around to confuse the defenders. Some of them pass the ball as part of trick plays.

They can, of course, legally pass the ball as long as they received it behind the line of scrimmage.

Other roles of wide receivers include punt returner, gunner, kick coverage team member, and onside kick team member.

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Characteristics a Wide Receiver Needs to Have

To play the role of a wide receiver, you need to have the right combination of physical and mental traits. These traits include the following:

Agility

You need to be able to develop a high level of agility so that you can freely move your body in space and avoid any obstacle easily.

Knowing how to change your body position in the middle of a critical play can make or break your team. Along with agility, you also need to be flexible.

Strength

Though you don’t need to be as strong as defenders and quarterbacks, honing your core and muscle strength will help when the defensive back tries to jam you.

Wide receivers who lasted a long time in the football field are known for their great body strength.

Sure Hands

Technically a catcher, you need to have soft yet sure hands so that you can catch the ball even in a crowded situation.

As you move to a higher level competition, the catches become more difficult as well.

Practice how to catch the ball while simultaneously being hit.

Focus

Focus is the ability to block the defenders, the crowd, and other unnecessary elements that will keep you away from the ball and the play.

You should know when you’ll be hit. Keep your eyes on the ball. Feel the sideline. Then, catch the ball when it’s the right time.

Vision

Vision means you’re able to find open spaces at the proper times so that you can start the play.

Understand the coverage of the route. Know its depth.

Remember that those who know how to sit down in the space of the coverage can catch the balls most.

Speed

Separation speed is more important in the football field that 100-meter speed.

You need to learn how to break out from the crowd with the ball intact in your hands. Run fast towards the right direction.

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Issues That Beginner Wide Receivers Will Meet

There are a variety of reasons why wide receivers drop their ball. The most common issues are:

  • Loss of focus: It is so easy to lose focus during an important play. However, once you do, it will be your undoing. Coaches suggest that you picture the ball before you catch it. Stare at the ball for as long as you can until you learn not to take your eyes off it.
  • Not adjusting to the ball: It is difficult for beginners to fully understand that each route has their corresponding ball placement. You must learn how to react quickly to different types of throws.
  • Poor body coordination: At first, you must get used to moving your hands and feet in perfect harmony. Learn how to run before you make a catch and gain yardage after you’ve successfully caught the ball.

Common Catching Drills

Football coaches usually teach their wide receivers to catch the ball with their index finger and thumb together.

Forming a cone shape with your hands gives you a higher chance of catching the passes. Knowing this alone is not enough though.

You need to practice the most common catching drills consistently.

Side to Side

Work with another player. Face each other and stand on the goal line. You should be 5 yards apart.

Upon the coach’s command, both of you should run sideward and toss the ball back and forth. Repeat this until you reach the end zone.

Clockwork

Face your partner. Tell him to throw the balls in clockwise directions. He should aim the ball towards your arms.

This exercise aims to fully extend your arms when you catch the ball.

Around the World

Lie in the field on your back. Let your partner circle around you. He should throw the ball in every other step he takes.

Even in this awkward situation, you should be able to catch the ball.

Hand Circles

Practice your hand speed, grip strength, and ball control with this drill. Hold the ball in front of you. Let go of it.

Then, make a circular motion around the ball. Grab the top of the ball before it falls.

Half Turn

To improve your reaction time, do this drill. Turn your back on your partner. Look left while waiting for your partner to throw the ball to your right.

You need to be able to quickly turn your body and catch the ball. Repeat the exercise in the other direction.

Conclusion

Learning different wide receiver catching drills can improve your skills as a football player. You need not start with the most difficult drills. Go at your own speed.

Check out this video by Ryan Ohara on some great wide receiver drills: