It’s an unavoidable nuisance in the sport of football. Whether it’s the result of a shoddy grip, slippery conditions or just an impressive tackle, fumbles are going to happen over of the course of a season. To ensure that your team gains or retains possession of the football, you need to attack the rolling pigskin with the proper form and technique.
Football coaching veteran and founding member of Heads Up Football Chris Merritt identifies some key areas to focus on when recovering a loose football; namely, securing the ball with your hands and engulfing it with your elbows and legs.
When approaching a fumbled ball, your first step should be to grab it with both hands which, of course, increases the probability of ball security. When you dive to begin covering up the ball, make sure that you don’t roll over.
“This exposes the football to other players coming in who can potentially knock it out of your grip,” Merritt said. Instead, try to land on your side or stomach and get the football as tight to your core as possible.
To add further protection from incoming players also looking to gain possession, take your elbows and cover both ends of the football while you grasp it close to your midsection. Covering up all surfaces of the ball reduces the chances that someone can get an errant hand in to knock it loose once you’re under the pile. You should also pull your knees close to your chest for even more protection and bring your top leg over your elbow for a final layer of security.
A great drill to sharpen your fumble recovery fundamentals is to have a coach or fellow teammate stand to your side, roughly two to three yards from your starting position, and have them roll a football out in front of you. From your athletic stance, approach the rolling football and begin your coverage with both hands, followed by the elbows and legs. You can repeat this exercise incorporating multiple rolling angles and bouncing footballs to get more experience, as no two loose footballs are going to roll the same way.
A lost fumble can swing the momentum of a game from one team’s favor to the other. So, secure that ball, the game — and even your season — by perfecting your fumble recovery techniques with help from these Pro Tips.