How To Hold A Football Properly For Every Situation

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Is grip everything in football?

Certainly not, but it indeed is an essential part of the game.

If you don’t quite know how a football should be held, you are in the right place. Today, I’m going to teach you how to hold a football properly for every situation – be it running, punting, throwing, or holding for a kicker.

How To Hold A Football When Running

If you ever come in contact with the ball, you should learn how to run with it properly. Here are a few tips to hopefully help you to do that correctly and efficiently.

The key to holding a football when running is keeping it high and tight against your chest and tucked into your elbow. To do this, follow these tips:

  • Place the end of the ball in your palm. You should firmly grasp one of the football ends (doesn’t matter which one) with your palm. Spread your fingers to cover as much of the ball as you can and keep the football’s end between your index and middle fingers. Some people recommend placing the index finger right at the tip of the ball – see what works best for you.
  • Tuck the football into your elbow. The football should be resting on your forearm and be tucked into your elbow.
  • Bend your wrist so that the ball rests against it. To make sure that the ball is seated tightly against your elbow, you should bend your wrist into the ball so that your arm as if “mimics” the ball’s curve. This will let you maintain tightness and grip of the ball.
  • Keep your elbow close to the body. At no time should your elbow drift away from the body. The football could just fall through the opened gap, not to mention that your hold of the ball is the strongest when it’s close to your chest.
  • Keep the ball as high as you can. Your elbow should be not only close to your body but also as high against your chest as you can. Ideally, the football should be above your abs but below your pecs.
  • Wrap the ball with your second arm when necessary. When you need to break through traffic, use your free hand to cover as much of the football as possible. But whenever possible, keep your other hand free and use it to create momentum when running.


The point of all these tips is to ensure that you use your torso and entire arm to hold the ball securely. Do not try to grip the ball with the strength of your wrist or fingers alone – if your hold of the ball is weak; the football will be snatched out of your arm in the blink of an eye.

You should practice carrying the ball with both hands. Although one of your arms is probably better than the other at holding the ball, you should try to become proficient with both hands. This will make you more adaptable to different catching angles on the field.

How To Hold A Football When Throwing

When it comes to throwing, the grip changes dramatically. 

While running, your goal is to securely take the football from point A to point B. In contrast, throwing requires a grip that would maximize the transfer of power from your arm to the ball. 

With that, here’s how to hold the football correctly:

  • Place the first knuckle of your ring finger on the second lace of the football.
  • Place your index finger’s first knuckle over the stitch line.
  • Place your thumb directly under your index finger (when the ball is held horizontally).
  • Place your pinky underneath the lace.


The video below better demonstrates how these tips should be brought to life.

Some coaches also recommend placing the index finger at the very top of the ball. I suppose you should try both variants and see which one produces the strongest and farthest throw for you.

People with small hands may struggle to grip a football firmly. If this is a big problem for you, check out my guide for how to grip and throw a ball with small hands.

Other Useful Football Articles

How To Hold A Football When Punting

Punting also requires a proper hold of the ball. Here are the key points to keep in mind:

  • If you are a right-footed punter, turn the seams of the ball to the right. The seams should be to the left if you are left-footed.
  • The ball should be held at stomach level, parallel to the ground.
  • Place the hand on the kicking foot’s side of the body on the back third of the football.
  • Place your opposite hand on the front third of the football.


Punting isn’t just about your grip, though – other elements need to be taken care of as well. That’s a topic for another day, but for starters, watch the video below.

How To Hold A Football For A Kicker

And finally, let’s have a look at how you should be holding a football for a kicker.

  1. Place your front knee onto the ground. Your knee should point directly at the snapper.
  2. The other knee should be at a 90-degree angle to the sidelines.
  3. After the kicker marks a spot on the field with their toe, place your backhand on the ground. Keep the hand on the ground until the ball is snapped – the position of your hand indicates a starting point for the kicker.
  4. Once the kicker is in position, raise your arm toward the snapper.
  5. Try to catch the ball as close to your body as possible. This will allow you to switch from the catch to the hold quickly.
  6. Place the ball on the ground, making sure that the laces are facing out.

Holding the ball for a kicker is reasonably straightforward, but you shouldn’t neglect drills specifically aimed at improving this movement. Work on your speed and coordination to accurately catch the ball and quickly set it up for the kicker.


Holding the football is just part of the picture – you should also learn other game elements. For example, as far as throwing the ball is concerned, a firm grip is not enough – you also need to practice your actual throw. Ensure that your training program is comprehensive and aims to improve every component of your game.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith
Brad Smith has been coaching high school Football for 6 years in Florida. He and his wife have 3 beautiful children who he hopes will become the first Jaguars to win a Superbowl. Other than Football, Brad loves American litterature, parenting, gardening, and home remodeling.