It can be one of the most breathtaking moments in football.
A receiver is trying to break free and create distance from a defensive back down the sideline. The quarterback throws the ball downfield with a powerful arch. The receiver lifts one arm up and comes down with the ball as their other arm remains tangled with the defensive player.
One-hand catches can be game-changing on the gridiron. But making that catch doesn’t have to come down to luck. Teams can run through this one-handed catching drill that focuses on the execution of this skill.
This drill is not only effective for wide receivers. Teams can also have defensive backs run through the exercise to work on pass defense and coming up with interceptions.
“[Players] find themselves a lot of times contesting for a football where hands get tangled up, and they have to perfect the technique of catching the ball with one hand,” says Chris Merritt, a veteran football coach and founding member of Heads Up Football. “This is not a go-to drill. This is something we use when the situation calls for it.”
ONE-HAND CATCHING DRILL
To start the drill, the receiver and defensive back should stand five yards apart. The quarterback will then make a lofting, light pass down the field as the receiver attempts to make a catch while running a route. The one-hand catching drill allows players to practice making the catch with both the near and far hand.
You can run this during practice or even before practice as a warmup to help players get their eyes and hands ready to play. It can be used for athletes at every level and can start with the youth level. Once players develop the basics of tracking and catching, you can introduce this drill.
“The great part about this drill is that it teaches our guys the hand-eye coordination and the tracking of the football because a lot of times when you are battling a defensive back or a receiver for the football, one of the hands is not going to be available for the catch,” Merritt says. “So, this is a great drill to go ahead and focus on that hand-eye coordination and securing the catch with one hand.”
Getting two hands on the football is fundamental to catching the football. But sometimes that isn’t an option. Working on one-handed catches regularly in practice can be the difference between coming up with the grab and walking away empty handed.
As a receiver, catching the ball is only half the battle. Once the ball is in your hands, or in this case, hand, learn how to gain yards after the catch with these important tips.