A wide receiver’s job on the football field is to get open for a successful pass and reception. In that quest for a yard-gaining grab, you occasionally have to head into traffic. This is called “going over the middle” or coming across the field into the larger cluster of players at the halfway point between sidelines. This receiver route can be a rewarding move for passing offenses, but receivers running these routes need to have grit in the game, both physically and mentally. Not only do you have to stay focused on making the catch as defenders pop up around you, but you also have to be able to withstand the impending hit from a charging linebacker or defensive back.
Professional wide receiver Davante Adams knows a thing or two about going over the middle for an impressive grab and what it takes to make the play in the heart of the field.
“Confidence is the biggest part of catching the ball across the middle,” Adams says. “[Defensive backs], linebackers, whoever. These days, they’re going to hit you regardless, so you have to be locked in on that ball and make sure that you catch it before you move.”
There are two main points to remember when your route tree sends you over the middle of the field: seeing the ball in and securing the tuck. Follow these tips on running routes and take your playmaking abilities through the heart of the gridiron this football season.
WATCH THE BALL, WIN THE BATTLE
Just like any other passing play, a receiver coming across the middle needs to watch the ball into their hands for a completed pass. When you have defenders coming at you from every angle, however, it can be hard to maintain that focus from start to finish. Staying zoned in on the ball rather than the impending hit can be difficult, but it’s achievable.
In order to keep his eyes on the prize, Adams says that he has a quick trick to get comfortable with the reception, and it can help you see catching across the middle through a whole new lens.
“When we come across the middle, we have a thing that we like to call ‘photo,’” Adams says. “If you’re taking a picture, you wouldn’t take the picture and move the camera right away. You’re going to take it and keep it there. That’s how I like to envision myself when I catch a ball, catch it and see it in. That way if I’m getting hit, I already have the ball secured.”
FROM TUCK TO TOUCHDOWN
Even if you have a lock on the ball with your hands, you should still be wary of defenders looking to swat or strip it from your possession. To keep the ball at your side from the catchpoint to the end zone, be sure to tuck the ball away with force. “You want to be violent to the tuck to make sure if there are any guys around you swinging their arms or trying to hit you that you already have the ball secured,” Adams says.
Following these tips can help make your route over the middle a fantastic addition to your receiving game. Take the fight to the midway in your quest for gridiron glory with these wide receiver tips.
Finish strong through the score with these Pro Tips on gaining yardage after the catch.