How To Practice Catching A Football By Yourself? 8 Drills To Improve

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Football players most of the time practice and train with their teammates. However, sometimes, athletes may want to dedicate their free time to improving weak areas of their game.

Today, we are going to learn how to practice catching a football by yourself. Solo training may seem like a simple thing to do, but without teammates, you may struggle to come up with routines and drills to improve your catches.

Well, you’ll find a few helpful drills and tips below!

Can You Practice Football By Yourself?

If you are wondering whether you can practice football by yourself, then know that it can indeed be done. However, you should be aware of some limitations of solo training:

  • You will not be improving your interaction with teammates.
  • You will not be improving the awareness of the position of your teammates and opponents.
  • There are many more group catching drills than solo drills.

With this in mind, solo practice should supplement your training routine rather than replace it. Practicing alone is not sufficient for football.

You can indeed significantly improve your ball handling skills with some home practice. But needless to say, most of your work needs to be done on the field with your teammates.

Solo Drills For Improving Your Catching Ability

Earlier, I mentioned that there are many more group catching drills than solo ones. You can do much more with teammates.

However, there still are some insanely useful things that you may do alone. Below are a few suggestions from me on practicing your ball handling and catching skills. 

These all can be done alone. Not only that, but you may practice these drills anywhere as long as you have a football.

There are no strict guidelines on the duration or the number of reps for these drills. They are pretty simple, so you could do them all day long. The more, the better.

Drill #1 - Ball Throws

This is the simplest drill – the only thing you need to do is to throw the ball several feet into the air and catch it as it comes down.

If you think that this drill will be too simple for you, then you may make it more challenging in the following ways:

  • Increase the height of your throw.
  • Throw the ball away from you.
  • After the throw, turn around in place and then catch the ball. Disorienting you, the turning somewhat lets you simulate the unexpectedness of the direction from which the ball may be passed to you.

You may do football throws anytime and anywhere you can, whether it be while walking down the street or relaxing in the backyard.

Drill #2 - Ball Juggling

To practice juggling, you’ll need at least 2 footballs. Juggling is very challenging, but it will improve your speed and hand-eye coordination.

For starters, try to juggle with only 2 footballs. Newbies struggle with keeping up with even 2 objects, but with enough practice, you will soon find a pair of footballs to be too easy.

To make juggling more challenging, you may add a third ball. Some people might also be able to juggle with 4 balls. I don’t think that 4 footballs are easily achievable though because footballs are large and unwieldy.

Drill #3 - The Flip Drill

In the flip drill, you need to flip the ball only using your fingers. This drill is pretty taxing on finger strength, but that’s actually great because footballs are caught with fingers rather than palms.

Make sure to alternate your hands to develop your both sides evenly.

Drill #4 - The Dribble Drill

The dribble drill is done the following way:

  1. Hold the ball with an overhand grip.
  2. Release the football.
  3. Catch the ball with an overhand grip before it hits the ground. You may use either the same hand or the other hand. 

If you struggle with this drill, then you may hold your other hand beneath the ball to catch it. This will allow you to avoid wasting time chasing after a missed ball.

You may make this drill more challenging by doing a complete circle around the ball with your hand before catching it.

Drill #5 - Back Drops

Back drops are done this way:

  1. Hold the football behind your head with both hands.
  2. Release the ball.
  3. Quickly move your hands behind your back to catch the ball before it hits the ground.

You may enhance this drill by turning around to catch the ball. You may also try to catch the ball with only one hand.

Drill #6 - Back Clap Catches

To perform this drill, do the following:

  1. Hold the football in front of you.
  2. Release the football.
  3. Clap your hands behind your back and catch the ball before it touches the ground.

If you are struggling with this drill, then you may clap in front of you rather than behind your back.

And to make the drill more challenging, you may try to catch the ball with one hand.

Drill #7 - Ball Squeezes

This drill is simple – hold the ball in front of you with both hands and squeeze it as hard as you can. Ball squeezes allow you to improve the retention of the ball after making the catch.

To make this exercise more challenging, you may increase the duration of each set. Alternatively, squeeze the ball with just one hand.

Drill #8 - Ball Finger Balance

And in the last drill, you should balance the ball on your index finger. Perform the drill with both hands.

Once you master balancing with your index finger, you may try other fingers.

Tips For Effective Catching Practice

To make your drills more effective and your practice more fruitful, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Keep your eyes on the ball. Pick a spot on the ball and lock your eyes onto it. This will tremendously help you with watching the ball’s trajectory and catching it.
  • Use your fingers to catch the ball. Footballs are caught with the fingers, not the palm. Your fingers should be the first thing to touch the ball when catching. 
  • Make a diamond with your fingers. When catching the ball, remember to make a diamond with your fingers by keeping the tips of your thumbs and index fingers together. The tip of the football should ideally go through the diamond when you catch it.
  • Keep your wrists and fingers relaxed when catching. Your hands should be relaxed and the fingers bent when catching the ball. This is to reduce the chance of the ball bouncing out of your hands.
  • Keep your arms bent and away from your body. You should reach for the ball to successfully catch it – otherwise, the defense may interfere with the catch. Aside from that, keeping your hands away from the body will allow you to respond to the football’s impact after catching it.
  • Squeeze your fingers once you catch the ball. To securely grip the football, you should squeeze it with your hands as hard as you can.
  • Simulate running upfield after catching the ball. You have to do something after catching the ball. That “something” definitely isn’t standing in place – you should explode “upfield”, just like in a real game.

One thing to note – these tips aren’t applicable to all the drills I’ve talked about earlier. Pretty much, you can only follow the tips when throwing the ball into the air and catching it.

In the meantime, these tips are extremely important for making proper catches. Your practice should translate to the field. Unfortunately, when practicing solo, you can’t do many field-specific things because real games involve teammates and opponents.

how to practice catching a football by yourself

Train With Teammates When Possible

As a final piece of advice, give preference to practice with teammates

You can do a LOT solo, especially considering that you can do the drills I’ve listed in your free time anywhere. However, solo practice can only help you improve isolated aspects of your game. 

Everything you learn and practice – whether at home or with your teammates – comes together on the field. And since the ultimate goal of your training is to get prepared for battling the opponent on the field, you should focus on field-specific drills.

Work with others to improve your team communication skills and your ability to go through the opponent’s defenses.

Still, performing drills at home can improve your game in small aspects. And unless you nail the basics, you aren’t going to be successful on the field.

4th & 10

Now, you know how to practice catching a football by yourself, and you know that solo practice has its own place in a football player’s training routine.

Make sure that your training is diverse and is focusing on real-world drills and skills. Don’t rely on solo training too much, but remember that it has its own role in football.

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.