Art Of Catch - Zweifel - WP

Mastering the Art of the Catch For Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers Keys to Mastering Catching the Football

1. Body Position

  • Position of Strength – Wide Receivers need the ability to catch, cap, and lock away the ball while taking a hit
  • Athletic Position – Have the ability to catch, cap, and lock away the ball, then react after the catch to generate yards after the catch.

2. Square the Ball UP

3. Position of Hands

  • Thumbs Together – Power Position
  • Little Fingers Only Below the Waist – Low Ball
  • See Your Hands – Catch the Ball
  • See the Crosshairs of the Ball
  • Catch – Cap – Lock as Fast as You Can

RELATED ARTICLE: Wide Receiver Development: Stance And Start

Drills to Mastering Catching the Football

1. Lying On Back

  • Athlete lies on his back with a teammate standing about 3 yards away from his head
  • The standing teammate will throw the ball towards the athlete laying on his back
  • Athlete on his back will catch the ball making sure to raise his hands away from his body

2. Three-Line Catch: Facemask – Pivot – Fade

  • Have two lines of Wide Receivers 10 yards apart
  • Coach/Quarterback will stand in the middle of the lines
  • When the Coach/Quarterback slaps the ball with his hand, the Wide Receiver will burst out of his stance
  • The Coach/Quarterback will then throw the ball to the Wide Receiver as he is running away from him
  • The Coach/Quarterback will use three different types of throws during this drill
    • Facemask – Throw the ball at the facemask of the Wide Receiver
    • Pivot – Throw the ball at the near hip of the Wide Receiver  This will cause the Wide Receiver to have to turn his shoulders and bring pinkies together to catch the ball
    • Fade – Throw the ball on a high trajectory in two different ways:
      • Throw ahead of the Wide Receiver so he has to run underneath the ball and catch it above his eyes
      • Throw a ball that will cause the Wide Receiver to stop and jump to attack the ball at its highest point, attack like a basketball rebound
  • Alternate lines of Wide Receivers

Diagram 1, Three Line, Stan Zweifel, Jay Schlichte, Wide Receiver, Drill, Catch

RELATED ARTICLE: Wide Receiver Development: Teaching Release

3. Sternum Drill

  • Have two lines of Wide Receivers 10 yards apart
  • Coach/Quarterback will stand in the middle of the lines
  • Place a cone 10 yards ahead of the Coach/Quarterback
  • When the Coach/Quarterback slaps the ball with his hand, the Wide Receiver will burst out of his stance towards the cone
  • Wide Receiver will break down at the top cone and turn directly towards the Coach/Quarterback
  • Wide Receiver will continue to run towards the Coach/Quarterback
  • Coach/Quarterback will throw the ball to the Wide Receiver
  • Make sure the Wide Receiver attacks the ball and does not stop running to make the catch

Diagram 2, Sternum, Stan Zweifel, Jay Schlichte, Wide Receiver, Drill, Catch

4. Toe Dance – Sideline

  • One line of Wide Receivers roughly 6 yards away from sideline
  • Coach/Quarterback stands between the sideline and the line of Wide Receivers
  • Place a cone 5 yards ahead of the Wide Receiver line
  • Coach/Quarterback slaps ball with hand
  • Wide Receiver runs towards the cone
  • Wide Receiver will make a 90 degree break towards sideline
  • Coach/Quarterback throws ball allowing the Wide Receiver to catch the ball at chest level just before the sideline
  • Wide Receiver will chatter feet to slow momentum allowing the Wide Receiver to stay inbounds

5. Toe Dance – End Zone

  • One line of Wide Receivers roughly 10 yards away from sideline
  • Coach/Quarterback stands roughly 5 yards away from line of Wide Receivers
  • Coach/Quarterback slaps ball with hand
  • Wide Receiver runs towards corner of endzone
  • Coach/Quarterback throws ball allowing the Wide Receiver to catch the ball above the eyes just before the sideline
  • Wide Receiver will chatter feet to slow momentum allowing the Wide Receiver to stay inbounds

RELATED ARTICLE: X’s & O’s Wide Receiver Slip Screen

6. Blind Ball Drill

  • One line of Wide Receivers
  • Coach/Quarterback will stand 5 yards away from the Wide Receiver facing the same way
  • Wide Receiver will begin to chatter his feet
  • Coach/Quarterback will slap ball with hand
  • Wide Receiver will turn away from the Coach/Quarterback and run for two steps
  • Wide Receiver will then turn upfield
  • Coach/Quarterback will throw the ball as the Wide Receiver begins to turn upfield
  • Wide Receiver should catch the ball moments after turning upfield

Diagram 3, Blind Ball, Stan Zweifel, Jay Schlichte, Wide Receiver, Drill, Catch

7. Window Distraction Drill

  • One line of Wide Receivers
  • A line of four stand-up dummies will be placed in a straight line in front of the Wide Receivers
  • 4 to 5 yards of separation between the dummies
  • Coach/Quarterback will stand 10 yards away from the dummies
  • Coach/Quarterback will slap ball with hand
  • Wide Receiver will run in a straight line behind the dummies
  • Coach/Quarterback will throw the ball so the Wide Receiver can make a catch between two of the stand-up dummies
  • Wide Receiver should make a catch without fading away from the dummies

Diagram 4, Window Distraction, Stan Zweifel, Jay Schlichte, Wide Receiver, Drill, Catch

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8. Figure 8 Distraction Drill

  • One line of Wide Receivers
  • Two stand-up dummies in front of the Wide Receivers
  • Coach/Quarterback will stand roughly 5 yards away from the Wide Receiver line
  • Coach/Quarterback will slap the ball with hand
  • Wide Receiver runs through the two back making a figure 8
  • Coach/Quarterback will throw the ball as the Wide Receiver rounds the farthest dummy
  • Wide Receiver will catch the ball and turn upfield

Diagram 5, Figure 8, Stan Zweifel, Jay Schlichte, Wide Receiver, Drill, Catch

Key Coaching Points

  • Draw attention to the point that a receiver should never try and catch a pass against his body
  • Know that when a receiver is told to catch the ball with his hands, he is actually being taught to catch the ball with his fingertips, not with his palms.
  • Emphasize that when the ball is in the air, the receiver should go get it – it is his to catch.
  • Reinforce the importance of securing the football with both hands after he catches the ball to prevent fumbling it if the receiver is in heavy traffic or about to be tackled

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Stan Zweifel joined the University of Dubuque in 2008. Under his tenure, the Spartans won the 2011 and 2015 Iowa Conference Championships and qualified for the 2011 and 2015 NCAA Division III Championships. Twice Zweifel was named Iowa Conference Coach of the Year (2011, 2015). He has also presented at the AFCA annual convention and has twice been featured in AFCA national publications.  Zweifel is nationally known for his clinic lectures, as well as being a highly sought camp director across the country.

Jay Schlichte joined the Spartans staff in 2015 as a graduate assistant working with the Offensive Line, which saw four players receive All-Conference honors. In the spring of 2016, he joined the defensive staff and worked with the outside linebackers. The 2017 season marked his first season on staff working with the tight ends.


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