Why Grip Matters to Receivers
Have you seen what wide receivers are doing nowadays? From high school all the way up the pros, wideouts are making some of the most spectacular catches anyone has ever seen. Perhaps it was Odell Beckham Jr. who set the standard for what an amazing catch is in 2014. Who could ever forget that leaping, one-handed touchdown catch that launched him into the national spotlight? Though that may be the most famous one in recent years, breathtaking catches have become almost commonplace with today’s pass catchers. How is it that they have been able to do this?
There are a couple of factors that play into constant highlight reels that seem to roll every fall Saturday and Sunday. One of them is undoubtedly the advancements in football receiver glove technology. Today’s gloves are tackier and stronger than ever, making nearly every kind of catch a possibility. Perhaps the most important factor, however, is the gripping abilities of the modern receiver. This is the key trait that often separates decent receivers from good ones and good ones from great ones. Without it, a receiver will never experience a consistent level of success, no matter how big, fast or strong he is. But why is grip so very important to pass catchers?
This is taught in every Pee Wee football league in America–always catch the ball with your hands. Seems pretty self-explanatory. However, the inexperienced or the misguided receiver will often attempt to make catches with his arms or with his chest or stomach. They try to absorb the ball by trapping it as it hits them. You can’t really blame them if they haven’t been properly instructed, as this may feel like the natural way to catch. But the proper way to receive a football is using your hands as they are outstretched in front of you.
This is when the grip comes into play. You can receive all of the finest instruction in the world. It won’t matter if you do not have enough grip strength in order to carry out the proper technique. The grip is what allows you to stop the ball’s flight away from your body, which is why it is vital for a receiver to have a strong grasp and a good pair of gloves.
After the receiver has successfully completed the process of the catch, he has a whole new set of battles ahead of him. A dropped pass is bad, sure, for it can kill the momentum of the offense as your team tries to drive down the field. Fumbling the ball after a catch, though, is a true disaster in the form of the opposing team gaining possession.
In order to maintain possession while you are running with the ball, it is imperative to have a firm grip. You will find yourself trying to absorb bodies from nearly every angle, all while dealing with attempted strips by defenders looking to jar that ball loose. What makes this even more difficult is that, while catching the ball is often a two-handed job, running with the ball is more often a one-handed ordeal. The other hand is usually used to keep defenders at bay. It is up to the receiver to maintain his grip on the ball while simultaneously weaving through a swarm of defenders. If a receiver doesn’t have a good grip, he just won’t make it in any level of competitive football.
Get a Grip
If you hope to one day become a successful collegiate or professional receiver, working on your grip may be a good place to start. For many years, receivers have used grip trainers and hand-strengthening drills that build up the tiny muscles in the fingers and palms. This directly translates to fewer drops and fewer fumbles on game day, something your coaching staff will surely take note of. There are few things that cause reduced playing time for a receiver faster than drops and fumbles, so these time-tested exercises are a big key to your success.
Next, you should find yourself a good pair of football receiver gloves. Tune in to any football game on television and look at the skill players. You will be hard-pressed to find a single soul going au naturel while he tries to haul in passes. This is because gloves are proven to boost your performance by letting fewer balls get away from you, both in the form of passes and while running with the ball. If you are a receiver looking to take the next step in terms of performance, it would behoove you to dedicate some time and resources towards your grip. Armed with this skill, you may just find yourself taking the field on Sundays one day.