We’ve got a kid this year with INCREDIBLE speed and vision.  But this is his first year playing football for us, and first year ever returning kicks.  So, he’s a bit raw there with the most important aspect, making a good, clean catch.  He’s already returned two kicks for touchdowns in just our first two games.  I need to continue to coach and develop him as the best kick returner he can be.  (I’m the Special Teams Coordinator.)

I thought about a drill yesterday to help him focus on the catch.  It went very well today, and I wanted to share it with you.

I choose to use whiffle balls for this drill because they are small, and force the returner to really focus on what I’m trying to get him to do with a football. Once we take the whiffle ball out, and replace it with a football, the idea is that it will be much easier to catch.

This drill is for kick returners.  It helps to teach them 5 things:

1.  Find the ball

2.  Get in position to make the catch

2.  Set their feet

4.  Find the ball

5.  Cradle the ball as they catch it, using legs as shock absorbers


One problem with how he has been catching kicks is here: his hands. I teach returners to have their palms to the sky. We fixed this today.
These arms and hands look much better!



I bought my son a “tee in a bucket” a few years ago for Christmas.  It came with about 20 wiffle balls.  So, I took this bucket out to practice today.  Right away, kids were telling me I had the wrong sport!  They were all asking what it was for.  I like to keep them guess, so I didn’t tell them!

How to run this drill

1.  Get 10-20 wiffle balls

2.  Line your receiver up 10-15 yards away from you

3.  Tell him the 5 things you want to teach him with this drill (see above).

4.  Throw the balls high at him, just straight at him, so he isn’t having to move too much

5.  Progress to where you make him work for the balls; throw them short, to his right, to his left, deep, just vary it up so he is having to move


The coaching point after this rep was not to “over reach.” If you can’t get under the football, get behind it so that you can hopefully get the ball off the bounce. Lunging for the ball like this will definitely lead to turnovers.
Coaching point: feet need to be set before the point. They should be just about shoulder width apart and your stronger leg back just a bit so. If your feet aren’t set, your hips aren’t set, your torso isn’t set, your arms aren’t set, your hands aren’t set. It all starts with setting the feet.


Here it is all coming together. I don’t like his feet here. Again, the thing I learned today is that we aren’t getting his feet set. This is leading to instability in making the catch. We will continue to perfect it.