One way you can increase the ease of a catch is to increase your ability to break away from a defender. Create space. Your new-found space will make for an easier catch and set you up for the opportunity to create yardage after the catch–both of which a good things. OK, so how do we do it? Develop the following: good body mechanics, a vertical push, and timing.
To start, you need to develop excellent body lean and arm movement. This will allow you to be able to accelerate, cut, and break down in a concise area. A 55-75 degree body lean does the trick in most pass routes, and make it a point to maintain the lean throughout the route. An unrefined receiver will change hip height when running in and out of breaks. As a former defender and as a coach, I have been taught and teach defensive backs to notice notice any hip height fluctuation. The reason? This alerts an up and coming break by the receiver. If you can maintain a more consistent hip height, you will be able to settle and break without giving the break away.
Arm movement is also key component to control when you are running your routes. While making breaks, concentrate on maintaining the arm movements similar to those used during running. Your arms should be at 90 degree angles. Some receivers do all sorts of crazy things with their arms when they start to break. Some drop their arms, stick their arms out, or even raise their arms up. This is a clear signal you are about to make a break, and allows the defender to prepare for the break.
Your ability to get down field as quickly as possible creates problems for defenders. When you break a defenders cushion, you force the defender to react and adjust. A strong vertical push puts a lot of stress on a corner. The corner will become threatened and worried about the deep pass and begin to underplay breaking routes.
Timing is everything! It can even make up for some poor separation. When you and your quarterback are the same page, little can be done by a defender to stop you. If you break and the ball is already on the way, a defender’s reaction time is reduced and your time to run post-catch is increased. Practice on running routes with consistent footwork and releases.
Creating separation revolves around controlling the controllable. Set up your breaks with good body mechanics to help you get into, and out of, your breaks cleanly and efficiently. Work on a good vertical push to generate a situation that threatens the defender’s cushion, then break. Finally, develop timing so the ball is there when you break.
Cutters Great Catch (www.amazon.com) A good tool for using the diamond and your fingertips to catch the ball.
Cutter Receiver Gloves (www.amazon.com) Solid gloves to provide the extra traction to haul the ball in.
Nike Air Zoom Vapors (www.amazon.com) Look good, play good.
Power Balance (www.amazon.com) It’s worth the $15 if it works.
Jugs Field General Football Machine (www.amazon.com) The Jugs Machine is a great tool for catching passes and kicks at different speeds. A little be pricey though.