As an up-tempo spread based team, we are always looking to get our receivers as many catches as possible. Because we have short practices we often miss out on individual time where receivers can get the base catches that allow them to develop the skill necessary to make big time catches in games. In addition, we need our Quarterbacks to work these throws and develop the muscle memory to throw great passes. We have started using the Over the Shoulder Drill to get our Quarterbacks and Receivers a large number of throws and catches in pre-practice.
Over the Shoulder Drill for Wide Receivers
The set up of the drill is very simple. We start with two lines and two Quarterbacks five yards apart. This makes for a very tight space but this tight space works to our advantage. When the Quarterback moves the ball the receiver takes off running down the line. The Quarterback lobs the ball over his outside shoulder so that the receiver can adjust to it and make the catch.
Like any drill, the secret to the effectiveness of the drill is in the subtle details of the drill. For the receiver there are a few key coaching points. The first one is that the receiver must stay on the line and allow the ball to bring him off the line to the outside. He can not start fading before the ball moves him out. This allows him to adjust to the ball in the air. The other key coaching point for the receiver is to start at a jog and adjust his speed to the ball. This gives his body the necessary feedback to correct his speed to ensure a catch.
For the Quarterbacks this is a perfect time to work on location and touch. By putting them so close it forces them to really develop their touch and ensure the ball is being thrown on a trajectory that allows it to drop in. This is much more difficult than it seems so this pre-practice period is a great way for their arms to calibrate to the current conditions.
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In order for the players to get the maximum number of reps there are a few minor details that allow the drill to flow. The first is that each player must get the ball that is thrown to them quickly. If the ball is not caught they must get it out of the path of the drill quickly because there will be another receiver coming quickly. Our players do a great job with this and it allows the drill to take place without any major risk. The second logistical detail that allows the drill to be efficient is that the receivers must return the ball back through the middle. By coming down the middle they take a shorter path and can give the ball directly to the Quarterback instead of cutting through the line.
The Over the Shoulder drill has been a great drill for us to get lots of reps catching and throwing the football. This is especially effective for throwing and catching the fade and developing the skills required to complete the deep ball.
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