How to Catch Like Jerry Rice: A Progression for Teaching Football Catching Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Jun 21
There's a lot of steps in learning to catch a football

There’s a lot of steps in learning to catch a football

Some coaches think that being able to catch is a genetic skill; you either have it or you don’t.

Or that if you just throw the ball enough, kids will improve and be able to catch. I disagree.

I believe that catching a ball (specifically, a football though the progression can be modified for any sport game) is a skill that should be taught.

If I was coaching a youth football team, I’d go through this progression at the beginning of every practice. Especially, if it was a flag football team or passing league. It won’t take a lot of time and kids will greatly improve their skills and confidence.

Here’s the progression. As in the previous post, if they are beginners, start with an underhand toss.

A. Football catching progression #1: Facing thrower:

1. Belly to chin height toss
2. Head to above head height
3. Knee height
4. Outside shoulders, chest height
5. Outside shoulders, head height and highter
6. Knee height and lower, outside of legs
7. Repeat progressions but with athlete running in place.

B. Football catching progression #2: Turned sideways (alternate sides)

1. Different heights
2. While walking in place
3. While moving slowly in place

C. Football catching progression #3: Facing away from thrower

1. Turn to right/left
2. Over shoulder
3. While walking in place
4. While moving slowly in place

Notice that in A and B, the catch is made with the thumbs together. In C, when the athlete is facing away, the catch is made with the pinkys together and the thumbs apart. This is a much more difficult catch to make.

Obviously, in the more advanced/difficult throws the kids won’t be as successful. It’s not 100% success you are looking for. It is just the experience of being able to attempt a catch in a safe environment and in different positions.

A few minutes  of catching practice will go along way to helping your team be confident, secure and skilled receivers. I’ve noticed that the teams that tend to win in flag football are the teams where everyone can catch and run routes.

Next Steps for Catching a Football

Obviously, this is not the end of the progressions. Here are possible ways you can get to being successful at catching in a game situation:

1. Adding speed to the walking/running
2. Adding a defender
3. Starting from the line
4. Throwing harder
5. Jumping to the ball

By adding increasing degrees of difficulty it helps kids be ready for the game. Remember, it’s not perfection you are looking for. You want the kids to get experience, lots of reps and short bouts of practice.

Let me know how this works for you!

Coach Ron Usher

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