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Football: Catching the Ball
When you are standing still playing catch in your back yard, catching a football isn't that tough. However, trying to catch the ball during a game is a lot tougher. You will be running at full speed, have pads and a helmet on, and there will be defenders trying to knock the ball away or tackle you just as you catch the ball. This type of catch takes concentration, practice, and skill.
Watch the Ball
The number one thing you must do when catching the ball is concentrate and watch the ball all the way into your hands. This is easier to say than do in a game, but can make all the difference. Don't try to run or worry about the defense until you have the ball in your hands and tucked away.
Catch With Your Hands
One mistake a lot of receivers make is to try and catch the ball too close to their body. Catch the ball with your hands. Snatch it out of the air. If you use your body, the ball is likely to bounce off your pads or body and you will drop it. Be sure to always catch the ball with your hands in practice, so it becomes a habit.
Use Both Hands
Although one handed catches look cool, they are difficult and you should always get two hands on the ball. Not only does this help you to catch the ball, but if a defender tries to knock the ball free, you are much more likely to hold on to it with two hands than with one.
How to place your hands with the ball above your waist
When the ball is above your waist, you should position your hands such that your thumbs and index fingers are touching (see picture). They should form a triangle. The rest of your hands and fingers should be spread out with your fingers up.
How to place your hands with the ball below your waist
When the ball is below your waist, position your hands with your fingers down and your pinkies touching (see picture).
When you watch the NFL on TV the announcers will talk about great receivers with soft hands. This means they use their hands like a cushion. They bring in the ball such that it doesn't just bounce off their hands. Sometimes the ball is coming in at a great velocity. If you hold your hands and fingers stiffly, the ball will bounce off. Keep your hands soft and your fingers flexible so the ball can cushion and won't bounce right off.
Tuck the Ball
Once you have the ball, tuck it away, preferably on the side away from the defenders and towards the sideline. The first thing any defender is going to try is to knock the ball out of your hands. Catch it and secure it quickly. Then run!
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