How to Make a One-Handed Football Catch

A step by step tutorial on catching an NFL sized football with one hand, like Cris Carter, or Randy Moss.

Anyone who has watched football knows that one of the most spectacular looking plays on the football field is the outstretched one handed catch. If you have ever watched Cris Carter or his protege Randy Moss make this type of catch you will have then understood the definition of poetry in motion. Though you may never possess the speed of a sure handed NFL receiver, with practice you will be able to catch like one. Here are the steps.

1. Depending on your coordination level, stand anywhere from three feet to ten feet apart from a partner and gently toss a football back and forth toward each others dominant hand, making sure to put clockwise spin on the ball to form a spiral and mimic the movement of the ball when it is being thrown from a distance.  If your coordination level is more Three Stooges than Musketeers start from a comfortable distance like three feet away.  There is nothing wrong with baby steps because in a short time the distance will increase incrementally.

2. As you toss it back and forth, practice moving your dominant catching hand backwards at a slightly slower speed than the speed of the football if possible-it does not have to be perfect. This action will make it so when the ball hits your hand it is hitting more of a "pillow" rather than a brick wall. It has been said when Randy Moss catches a football the only sound you hear is similar to that of air leaving a bike tire. That noise is your goal, and it is attainable. If your're having trouble with this drill, focus on following the ball to your hand and/or dramatize the arm movement until your muscle memory is comfortable with the speed of the movement or whatever the problem may be. Slow down the speed of the toss or find a more accurate partner if your're not catching the ball.

3. One thing to remember when moving your hand at a similar rate of speed as the ball coming in is to try and have your hand contact the football at around the center of your body or a little ahead so that when your hands go back with the ball slightly you don't lose your positioning by having your limbs flying about backwards haphazardly.

4. After you can do 10 in a row without dropping a toss from at least 10 feet away, you should be ready to catch a pass with some mustard on it.

5. The trick to catching an NFL sized football is to find the center of the front face of the ball as it is flying towards you.  It is the eye of the hurricane so to speak you are looking to wrap your hands around.  Once you have zeroed in on that, follow the ball to the hands, and try and catch the football so the front face of the football is between your four fingers on one side and your thumb gripping the other side.  The football should peek out anywhere from 1-5 inches above your pointer finger and thumb depending on your hand size, grip, hand/eye coordination and catching ability. Don't forget to use the aforementioned steps so the ball does not smack your hand resulting in a dropsy.

6. Even though you want to have soft hands as the football is making contact with your hand, tighten your grip as soon as your "pillow" is compressed fully and before it starts to bounce back out-if you develop really soft hands this won't be a problem.

7. Practice makes perfect.

8. Practice sideline catches. National Football League (NFL) rules state that you must have both feet in bounds on the sideline for a good catch. Making sure both feet are in bounds is a real skill that must be practiced. One of the best at this was Butch Johnson that played for both the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.

9. Don’t run before you catch the ball. One of the biggest mistakes a receiver can make is to turn their eyes up the field and start to run before they have caught the ball. This is one major reason a receiver can drop the ball before catching it.


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