Wide Receiver Drills With Tennis Balls

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Gloved hands catching a football. (Image: Lewis Wright/iStock/Getty Images)

Dominant wide receivers are reliable; they have the speed to outrun defenders, the agility to make last second adjustments and, most importantly, they have the ability to make impossible catches in a crowded situation. Whether you’re coaching at the youth, high school, college or pro level, it’s your responsibility to help your players hone their catching skills and be the best wide receiver possible. Conducting hand-eye coordination and reaction drills with tennis balls can help improve your players' receiving skills at all levels of the game.

Wall-Reaction Drills

Step 1

Give your player a tennis ball and have him stand 8 feet from a sturdy wall. Instruct him to throw the ball against the wall with his right hand and catch it with his right hand. Tell him to vary the height and pace of the throw and repeat 10 times.

Step 2

Instruct your receiver to change his catching hand. Have him throw the ball with his right hand and catch it with his left. Repeat 10 times. Ask him to increase the pace and throw the ball with his right hand and catch it with both hands.

Step 3

Stand behind your player and throw the ball over his shoulder toward the wall. Instruct him to catch the ball 10 times with just his right hand, then with his left and finally with both hands.

Step 4

Instruct your receiver to turn around so his back is to the wall and have him face you. Throw the ball and tell your player to quickly turn around and catch it before it bounces on the ground.

Hand-Eye Drills

Step 1

Stand 5 to 6 feet from your player with a couple of tennis balls. Toss a ball and have him catch it with either his right or left hand. This will depend on where the ball was thrown -- to the left, catch with his left hand or with his right if thrown to his right. Have him quickly toss it back, and while the ball is on its way back to you, toss him another ball. After he catches it, have him quickly toss the ball back and toss him another. Vary the direction and height of the balls.

Step 2

Conduct a drill to help your receiver spot and catch a ball over his shoulder. Place two cones 5 yards apart. Have your player stand behind and to the side of the first cone while you stand behind him with a tennis ball. When you say "go," instruct him to run toward the second cone as you toss him a tennis ball. Have him catch it over his shoulder with his opposite hand. For example, if the ball was thrown over his left shoulder, have him catch it with his right hand.

Step 3

Improve your player's hand-eye skills by catching tennis balls while in stride, running route patterns. Have him stand 10 to 15 yards to your left. On your signal instruct him to run 10 yards straight ahead, quickly turn to his right and keep running. Just as he turns, throw him a ball. Tell him to watch the ball all the way into his hands and then finish running the pattern.

Things You'll Need

  • Tennis balls

  • Cones

Tip

Use smaller balls, such as racquetball balls, to challenge your players' focus.

Warning

Before conducting route-running drills, have your players perform a short warm-up to help avoid injury.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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