Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Pass Catching Tips When Coaching Youth Football

Pass Catching Tips from Raymond Berry

Last month someone sent me the Raymond Berry pass receiving videos as a gift. While I’m always skeptical of how much us youth football coaches can apply from a video meant to train High School, College and even Pro players, there were a few pointers that made quite of bit of sense to me. I’m not going to give away all of the secrets Mr Berry shared in his videos, but I will tell you how I would apply some of them to my youth football teams.

For many young coaches, the name Raymond Berry doesn’t mean anything. But for many of us the name Raymond Berry is synonymous with great hands. When he joined the Baltimore Colts in 1955, he was given little chance to make the team. However, coach “Weeb” Ewbank was impressed with Berry’s practice habits and his good hands and kept him as a part-time player.
In 1957, Berry became a starting end and led the NFL in reception yardage with 800 on 47 catches, scoring 6 touchdowns. When the Colts won the league’s championship in 1958, Berry led in receptions with 56 and in touchdown receptions with 9, gaining 794 yards. Berry led the league in 1959 with 74 receptions, 959 yards, and 14 touchdowns, and led in receptions with 74 and yards with 1,298 the following season. He held NFL records, since broken, with 631 receptions and 9,275 yards. He caught 68 touchdown passes.
The slender, 6-foot-2, 187-pound Berry lacked speed, but he developed a variety of moves to get free from defenders and he virtually never dropped a pass he could get his hands on. He held NFL records, since broken, with 631 receptions and 9,275 yards. He caught 68 touchdown passes. He constantly worked on catching the ball before and after formal practice, even recruiting sportswriters, groundskeepers, and equipment managers to throw to him. Obviously Mr Berry is an expert at catching the football.
In youth football too often we try to teach the kids to do too many things at the same time, that goes double for how many of us teach receivers. A receiver needs to learn how to get off the line of scrimmage, run a precise route, catch the ball and then secure the ball and run after the catch. While many of us do a nice job of breaking other movements like tackling or blocking into easy to learn and perfect steps, many of us don’t do the same thing when it comes to pass receiving. Mr Berry did a very nice job of isolating each portion of the movement in his DVD with a very heavy emphasis on the catch portion, his specialty.
What impressed me on the catching segment was he was able to do many catch reps in a very short duration and was able to perfect catching bad balls. Instead of say running 20 yard post patterns over and over again with each taking quite a bit of time and requiring the receiver to expend a lot of energy, he ran lots of “finishing” routes. A finishing route is just the last 5 yards of the pass pattern, started from a run in place. With a net standing behind him to catch errant throws, he was able to run many more “routes” and catch many more passes this way in a much shorter amount of time. Working by himself he was often catching a ball every 10-15 seconds on the video.
He worked a lot on catching balls that were purposely thrown low, high and behind him. Using this method he was even able to perfect catching a ball thrown over the wrong shoulder, by turning his back and switching shoulders- a very difficult move that he was a master of.

In youth football your receivers are going to see poorly thrown balls, that is a given. Often times in practice when the coach is throwing the ball or your quarterback is throwing with no pressure, all your receivers see is fairly well thrown balls. You have to get them used to adjusting to and going up to fight for poorly thrown balls.
In addition to using Mr Berry’s finishing routes, we like to put defenders in the faces of our receivers at the reception point. When you have defenders waving arms or even just with their hands up and shouting, it forces the receiver to concentrate on the football. Often times we just can’t figure out why a player looks so good before practice or on air reps catching the football. He won’t drop a single pass, but when it comes game time he seems to always drop it. Often times it isn’t nerves, he just hasn’t got used to catching with hands in his face or catching poorly thrown balls.

We have found when you isolate each portion of the reception and perfect it, when you bring all the movements back together you have a much better receiver than when you try to teach all 4 parts of the movement at once. The catch is often times the part of the reception that needs the most work with young receivers. Using some of these ideas may be something you’ve overlooked and can make a big difference in the productivity of young pass catchers.
Look to the blog for other pass catching tips, there is an excellent article on beating press coverage using a variety of get off techniques. Copyright 2010 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. This article may be republished but only if this paragraph and link are included. http://winningyouthfootball.com

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