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How to Grasp, Hold and Handle a Football Properly


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Even at the highest level of professional football, NFL coaches each year during mini camps and training camps, instruct players how to handle and hold a football properly. You would think after so many years of playing the same game each year, professional football players wouldn't need to be taught one of the simplest principles of football. However, the problem is that if holding and securing a football was a concept so easy, then why are over a 100 footballs fumbled in games throughout each season?

This article is dedicated to the simple concept of how to grasp, hold, and handle a football. The methods taught throughout this article are techniques taught by some of the greatest coaches in the NFL today. If applied, these principles will give the reader an opportunity to better themselves as football players and be more reliable during critical moments of games.

The Grasp

Many coaches and players teach the initial grasp of the football is the first indicator if the ball will be fumbled or not. Therefore, practicing and staying consistent with the way you initially grasp the ball will dramatically reduce the number of fumbles you may incur. In fact if you take a mental note every time you touch the ball and place your hands in the correct manner, it is proven the number of likely fumbles will be cut in half.

The proper way to grasp a football is done by placing the tip of the index finger directly over the tip of the ball, while the rest of the hand grasps as much of the surface area of the ball as possible. The remaining surface area of the ball is then supported directly on the inside of the wrist and forearm. Thus, the tips of the finger down to the mid section of the forearm sustain the football during the initial grasp.

The Hold

"The Hold" of a football is sometimes an item of debate among coaches in today's collegiate and professional coaches. Some coaches believe you should hold the football directly under your armpit, or place the ball between your forearm and your ribs. Although those are legitimate techniques, I like to refer to a football hold that is a proven method. There is only one player in the NFL that has the least amount of fumbles in the last 5 seasons, and it is not by chance.

Tiki Barber of the New York Giants has been the forerunner in implementing and teaching the proper method of ball holding. His technique is simple: with the ball firmly grasped with the fingers and forearm, place the football directly across your chest and hold on for dear life. (It should look like you are stabbing yourself in the middle of your chest. ) Think of it as how you might hold a brand new infant. You are not going to hold her under your arms are next to your ribs. The best and most secure hold is sustained by holding the baby across your chest. Through many years this technique seems to be the most reliable and less likely to cough off the football while being engaged with incoming defenders.

The Handle

Since the first years of professional football to the days of Vince Lombardi, NFL coaches have always understood one simple truth about the proper way to handle a football. Once a player has the grasp and hold, maintain the football in your outside arm at all times.

This technique is based on simple probabilities. Think about it; a player is more likely to be tackled by a defender pursuing from the inside out. For that reason every time you run drills, practice or walk with a football, create a habit of always placing the football in your outside arm. You will have more control and ability to protect the football from ever coming loose.

Always remember, games are lost or won by fumbles. Do you ever want to be that guy that loses a Pop Warner, Junior High, High School, College, or NFL game? Start preparing NOW to properly grasp, hold and handle a football!

Casey Poppinga is a former NFL player and writer for the football training site


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