Principles of Catching the Football

By Bill Hewitt | Posted 2/28/2020

Being a receiver is a critical part of the total offensive concept. Concentration is the first part of being a good receiver. Next, implement learning techniques to fine tune the skills needed. Learn the tricks of the trade, as they say. This can be helpful when it comes down to a one on one competition with the defender. Remember, the completed catch is the only good outcome for any receiver. You, as a receiver, have the innate ability to produce big yardage for the offense. 

All receivers must be focused completely on the pressure steps to break during the route itself. Once the route is completed look immediately to catch the football. Look the football into your hands. Like a shock absorber when the football touches your fingers pull the football toward your body to complete and protect the catch. Remember the three-hand philosophy. 

Hopefully the receiver will develop the skill work naturally and produce. This should be consistent and fluid to receptions.

From the exact time the eyes pick up the football in flight till it is secured concentration must be maintained. Remember concentration is the key to success.

Next issues for all receivers:

  • How to beat press coverage
  • How to gain leverage
  • How to gain open grass
  • How to read the coverages
  • Remember the quarterback throws to a spot. You as the receiver must simply go and get it
  • Timing is everything
  • Most importantly body positioning and balanced stance

    Press Coverage:
    This coverage is usually man to man. In some cases, zone pick up at level 3. In other cases, the corner will bail for a zone coverage rotation. 

    How to beat it: 

    Hand Fighting, RIP Through, Swim and Boogie foot techniques used by receivers until release is accomplished. Another technique I learned to teach at the college level was to step directly on the defender foot and hand fight release. I should call this the Bull Rush Technique.

    This is the most important position for any receiver to be in to catch the Football. Without leverage, the pass will always be incomplete or intercepted. 
    Open Grass Philosophy:
    A good receiver will help his QB by getting open as soon as possible. This philosophy was basically developed for a 4 to 5 receivers set formation. By spreading the defenders out this will open the grass windows for receivers. 

    Go and Get it
    As a good coach and teacher hand position is very important to teach. For example, the receiver running a streak pattern don’t reach too early for the football. This will slow you down. There are several hand positions. It all depends on the receiver’s body positioning and height of the football. Palms are either up or out.

    Just like life and in football the timing is everything. This is why practice is so important. 

    Body Positioning and Stance
    Body positioning before, during and after the catch. Know the possibilities with your positioning in the formation. Remember to adjust your stance depending on the coverage. To review this technique. 
  • Versus Press coverage: Shorten yours balanced Stance with your hands up
  • Versus soft zone stretch your stance back and your arms hanging down. This is almost a sprinters stance.

Remember you as the receiver is usually the fastest person on the football field. Fight for the football and accelerate at all costs.

In closing, use film work to learn the coverages and how to attack each by strengths and weaknesses. 

"The Complete Receiver is just as important to a football team without the football in hand” -Coach Bill Hewitt 


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