There are basics which any wide receiver at the high school or varsity level must know and understand. Consider these basic stepping stones which will serve as the foundation for all else to be built upon.
Understand the stance. The receiver should stand with his inside or closest foot to the quarterback forward. The other foot should be shoulder width apart and back in a comfortable starting position. The receiver's knees should be slightly bent with the weight evenly distributed on the front foot and ball of the trailing foot. Upon release, do not allow the receiver to drop the back heel; rather push off with the ball of the foot.
Avoiding a jam at the line of scrimmage. The receiver should release from the line of scrimmage with his arms up and ready to engage a defender. The aim is to not move directly into a defender, but rather to avoid becoming engaged at all. Use an upward ripping motion or a through and down motion to break the advance of a defender. Also have receivers work to make an initial side step to avoid contact with a defender.
Making a cut or planting. When making a plant or cut, as during a route, the receiver should work to not look at the ground where the plant or cut will take place. This will keep the defense from keying on the upcoming change in the route. The receiver should throttle down, or slow, while slightly sinking the hips and plant with the outside foot. Push off with the plant foot in the direction of the cut.
Catching the football. Receivers should use the triangle technique when catching a football. The receiver should give the quarterback a good target and have their hands up to catch the ball. Forming a triangle with the thumbs and pointer fingers, the hands and fingers should form a pocket in which to receive the ball. Allow the fingers to collapse around the ball as the arms act as shocks to accept the ball in. This is called having soft hands which will allow for many more catches than stiff hard hands.
Look to tuck and turn. After catching the ball, the receiver should look the ball into the tuck position. This position is achieved by pulling the football into the body between the forearm and chest. The palm of the hand should cover the point of the ball creating three points of contact. The ball should be tucked firmly and kept high to avoid being stripped free by a defender. The receiver should not turn up field until the ball is tucked away. When turning, the motion should be quick based on one step and the following step should begin the motion up field. Do not waste time or energy on lateral movement.
Tips & Warnings
- There are many drills which will help to reinforce these basics. As these are basics of the position, daily work must be done by the receiver so that these concepts become second nature and are performed correctly with little to no thought.
- Be sure to wear any and all proper equipment based on the venue of performing these receiver basics.
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