As a wide receiver, your hands aren’t just used for catching the football. You also need to challenge defenders at the line of scrimmage and gain separation through force.
Professional wideout Nelson Agholor likes to refer to this battle between skill positions as a “fistfight in a phone booth.” This is a good description, given the close proximity between receiver and defensive back.
“You move a guy, then you’ve got to redirect, and you also have to move his hands from getting on your chest,” Agholor says.
For this on-field hand-to-hand combat, Agholor recommends practicing three techniques for improved separation off the line: the club rip, club swim and windshield wiper.
To perform the club rip move, you’ll need a defender standing directly across from you with one arm outstretched. Next, take a step forward with your corresponding leg and use your hand to push their arm inward. Try to target between the defender’s elbow and the wrist. For example, if a defender has his right arm out, step with your left leg and use your left hand to move their arm out of the way.
To finish the move, step through with your opposite leg and bring your other arm up from underneath to the outside of the defender, almost like an upward elbow. This can help put you on the outside of the defender’s body for a clearer path downfield.
The club swim is very similar to the club rip. Instead of going underneath your opponent’s arm, however, you’ll go over the top.
Just as with the club rip, take a step forward and push the defender’s arm inward. Next, bring your other arm over the top of theirs — similar to a swimmer’s freestyle stroke — while also stepping through to finish the release.
The club swim can help put you on the outside of your opponent’s body and in a better position to make a catch.
The windshield wiper technique is a bit different from the club rip or club swim. Receivers will use one hand to get past the defender instead of two.
Start by facing directly across from your defender. His right arm should be out. Step forward to engage, and move your right arm underneath his before bringing it up and toward him. This move is similar to the motion of a windshield wiper. Aim to make a point of contact on his forearm with yours.
And just like the clup rip and club swim, the goal of the windshield wiper drill is to put you on the outside of a defensive back.
All three of these moves can help you redirect your defender’s hands for a clean release downfield and find the end zone for six. Don’t forget to practice each move from both sides of your body.