Soft Hand Training: How to Catch Each Ball

He was born with soft hands. The so-called experts want you to believe it. It’s not the truth. Anyone willing to follow my simple instructions can develop soft hands and become more than adept at catching soccer balls.

There are three options available when preparing to catch a soccer ball with your own hands. The first option, move your hands towards the ball. This is the worst of the three options. When you move your hands towards a fast-moving soccer ball, you transform your hands into a virtual baseball bat. Most likely, on contact, you will reject the incoming ball and lose your grip.

The second option is to keep your hands still. It’s not as bad as option one, but it still creates a situation where your hands act like a backboard that could easily push the ball back. Most football players take it this way. Teaching them to use their fingertips helps, but it’s not the best solution to the problem.

The third option, the one I recommend, seems to be instinctively used by the most successful wide receivers who have been deemed to have “soft hands”. It consists of moving your hands slightly backward, one inch to one middle finger, just before the ball makes contact with your hands. You create a basket-like effect. For a short period of time your hands match the speed of the ball, obviously in the same direction, then slow down to secure your grip. Create fewer chances of kicking back and missing catches.

The movement is similar to that of a tennis player when a wandering ball hits him. He simply reaches out with the racket and catches the ball. It seems that the ball sticks, almost magnetically, to the racket. However, it is the rapid acceleration and therefore the deceleration of the hands that makes it work.

Wide receivers, grab an old tennis racket and a tennis ball. Start by holding the tennis racket with your dominant hand and throwing the tennis ball into the air with your non-dominant hand. Once the ball bounces, point the racquet head towards the ball so that it can potentially make contact with the strings at that end. Just before it makes contact, quickly accelerate the deceleration of the racket and bring it to a horizontal position to rock the ball, and then catch the ball. Once you have mastered bouncing, try throwing the ball into the air and catching it back in the air with the racket using the same technique. Once you master this technique, you will be well on your way to becoming a better receiver.

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