Get your hands in shape
| 3 min read
Pass plays in flag football are exciting and fun. That is, as long as the intended receiver makes the catch.
Because of its oblong shape, a football is just not as easy to catch as a round baseball. On top of that, there’s no fancy mitt to help a player catch a football. It’s just their bare hands up against the ol’ pigskin.
Learning how to make a diamond catch is a fundamental skill. Teach it early and let the passes fly!
The diamond is key to catching that odd-shaped football. Thumbs and pointer fingers press together gently, or overlap slightly, creating a diamond shape in between a player’s hands. The pointed end of the football should fit inside that diamond window, while the other fingers grip the wide part of the ball. This shape stops the forward motion of the football and puts a player’s hands in the right place to catch, control and then tuck the ball.
Meaning they give a little when they grab the football. Stiff hands are a good way to send a football bouncing away. Arms should be extended for good reach, but don’t forget to absorb the ball’s impact — elbows should be slightly bent. It’s all about giving in to the momentum of the ball.
It’s common to see younger kids catching a football between their bodies and arms, as they develop spatial awareness and refine their motor skills. This will unfortunately send the ball bouncing. Remind young players to catch the ball with their hands – not their arms, and not their chests.
Focus on making the catch with their fingers, not their palms. Fingers give players more control to quickly tuck the ball as they run after the catch. Teach kids to make their small hands bigger by spreading their fingers apart when they make a catch.
Pro tip: Get a pair of football gloves. They help hands of all sizes stick to the ball and kids love ‘em!
A player can make the most perfect diamond with their fingers — and miss the ball. Coaches cannot say it enough: Watch. The. Ball. Even while running, players need to keep their eyes on the ball’s trajectory. It’s the only way they’ll be in the right place to make the catch.
Emphasize the importance of watching the ball all the way into the hands. Too often, players of all ages look away and start running before the ball is secure in their hands. It happens to NFL players, too — and ends in an incomplete pass, no matter the level of play.