Watching your favorite player catching everything thrown at him and amicably passing around the football, it is common for you to assume the easiness of the task. This is not the case though. When it comes to American football, learning to catch a football correctly becomes important, as it is the most essential skill you need to possess en route becoming a great footballer. This skill will ensure there is no fumble on your part when a ball is thrown at you, and you are comfortable with running, passing or dodging players, with the ball in your gasp.
The Ultimate Catch
Eyes on the Ball
It is important to have a very good hand-eye coordination than having a great eyesight. When the ball is being thrown at you, fix your eyes on it and focus till you have caught it properly. Ideally, you should be watching the ball all the way till the end until it falls in your hands. Doing this will reduce your chances of dropping the ball.
Stretch Your Arms
As the ball starts coming closer to you, you should stretch your arms in the direction of the ball. This ensures you hands come in contact with the ball as far away from the body as possible. You should be careful in extending your arms at the right time, just before the ball comes to you. Do not run with your arms stretched out.
The most important aspect while practicing is the hand position. The correct position is, the palms facing away from the body, all your fingers pointing upwards, and both the thumbs facing each other. All fingers should be slightly spread out. This hand position should resemble a triangle, with your palms spread out, and the ball should be caught in between the open space. It is better to use the fingers instead of the palms for catching the ball, as chances of a fast thrown ball bouncing off your palms are reduced.
Watch the ball closely as it comes to you and grab it by bringing down all your fingers on it. The ball should have traveled about halfway in the space between your hands. Once you have caught the ball, tuck it under either of your arms. Always remember to tuck the ball in after you have caught it, to prevent any fumble.
Catching While Running
It is important that you run ahead of the football and not behind it, keeping your eyes fixed on it all the while. This will help you get in a good position much before the ball has arrived, so that you catch it properly.
Once you feel you are in a decent position to catch, move your waist a little bit in the direction of the football and turn the upper part of your body towards it.
Your hand position should be similar to the one discussed above. The triangular position, with the fingers spread out and thumbs pointing at each other. When the ball comes close enough, extend your arms towards the ball and try grabbing it around its middle portion, with a hand on each side. Hold it tight.
After catching, tuck it under one of your arms or against your ribcage and run. Keep a tight grip on the ball, so that you don't drop it while running.
Catching With One Hand
Before learning to do so with one hand, it is better you learn and practice the two techniques discussed above. This will make it easier for you, as your hand-eye coordination and ability to keep focus on the ball when in air would have improved considerably. This makes it easier to learn with a single hand.
The basics remain same. Keep an eye on the ball till the last moment. Run ahead of the ball to get in a good position and catch the ball away from your body. Since you are using only one hand, ensure that it is not lying flat. It should be curved a little, or else, it increases the chances of a fast ball bouncing off your palm.
Another important point to bear in mind is to not stop the traveling ball at once. Follow its path for a bit to slow it down, before grabbing it. You should grab the ball with four fingers on one side and the thumb on the other, with the ball's front face placed in the middle. Hold it tight, and tuck it under either of your arms after you have caught it.
One thing everyone should remember is that it takes a lot of practice till you master the trick. Be dedicated while practicing, so that you are able to catch any ball thrown at you. This will make you an indispensable asset in your team.