In my last post, I said we’d address the good, the bad, and the ugly off the passing game. I have decided just to stick with the good because the bad and the ugly really deserves a blog unto itself. So I am going to start with three things receivers should be doing in order to perform well on the field: line up on the line of scrimmage with the proper stance; use proper form to catch the football; and learn how to beat man-to-man coverage.
The first thing a receiver must do is learn the proper stance when lining up on the line of scrimmage. I have heard it compared to that of a sprint runner in the starting blocks as he prepares for a race. The difference is that a wide receiver remains in an upright position with his right foot about 18 inches behind his left foot. He should be leaning forward enough to be able to explode off the line of scrimmage when the ball goes into play, but not so far forward that he is unable to keep his square to the ground. A good wide receiver never changes his stance from play to play. He doesn’t want to let the defense know if the play will be a running play or a passing play. There must also always be seven players on the line of scrimmage. The flanker lines up one yard behind the line of scrimmage. It is usually a good idea for a receiver to double check with an official that he is lined up in the right spot. A receiver may be lined up far enough away from the QB that he cannot hear the QB’s signals. Therefore, he must watch for the ball to be snapped into play in order to know when to go into motion.
Catching is fundamental to a receiver’s game. A good receiver wants to watch the ball as it drops into his hands, almost as if he has tunnel vision. Therefore, his hands should be extended slightly in front of his body with his hands cupped in front of his face, almost in the shape of a W. If a receiver catches the ball close to his chest, it may bounce off his chest or shoulders and out of his control. Sometimes the football is thrown below the receiver’s waist. If that is the case, the receiver should hold his hands out as if he is being handed the football and overlap his pinkies.
Finally, a good receiver knows how to beat man-to-man coverage. This style of coverage is where a defender stays with the man he is guarding, no matter where the receiver goes. The defender will do what he can to keep the receiver from running his route and catching the ball. One way of doing that is to knock a receiver out of bounds because it is against the rules for a receiver to come back in bounds and catch the football. A receiver should keep his hands up to keep the defender from being able to touch his chest. He must break free from his defender and can do so using one of two techniques. The first is called the DIP AND RIP–he dips his shoulder and rips past his defender. The other technique is called the SWIM TECHNIQUE. Instead of dipping, the receiver puts his hands up as if he were going to box his defender. Then he tries to knock his defender’s hands away while going in the other direction. He uses a freestyle stroke with his free hand to try to push the defender behind him. The danger here is that the defender will catch the receiver’s arm and hold him under his armpit, preventing him from gaining yardage.
Next time: the bad and the ugly….