American football is a very complicated sport, no matter what you say about it. Football is a very physical sport that requires players to be in top shape. It also requires a lot of strategy.
You’ll have to go through years of training from youth to adulthood to become a force that needs to be reckoned with on the field.
In this way, wide receivers stand out in particular. Even though they spend most of the game out of sight, they are very important to the success of an offence.
To help beginning football players, I am going to introduce you to a number of wide receiver drills for youth to help with coordination, speed, and conditioning. This is going to be a long read, so get comfortable and get ready to learn!
10+ Wide Receiver Drills For Kids And Beginners
1. The Wide Receiver Stance Drill
You should start with your stance; if you don’t solidify the basics, you can forget about making progress elsewhere.
Here are a few general tips on the correct receiver stance:
- The foot on the inside should be in front, and the foot on the outside should be behind.
- In reality, you can put any foot in front, but coaches usually teach the “inside-front/outside-back” setup.
- Most of your weight should be on your front foot. This will help you get off the ground faster. This will also make it impossible for defenders to push you back.
- Keep your hands up and be ready to push the defenders off the ball.
- You should have square shoulders. This is done so that the other team can’t tell which way you’re going.
- You should be looking at the line of scrimmage. This will let you track the ball’s release and movement so you can act in the right way.
2. Ball Flip Drill
This drill is easy to understand but hard on the body. The receiver basically just flips the ball with their fingers.
The player can use only one hand, or they can switch hands to strengthen and coordinate their fingers more evenly. Wide receivers need to be able to catch the ball with either hand, no matter what.
This drill is easy enough that you can do it anywhere as long as you have a ball.
3. Ball Dribble Drill
Another way to build finger strength is to do the ball dribble drill.
To do this drill, you must:
- Use your overhand to grab the ball.
- Release the ball.
- Don’t let the ball hit the ground. Catch the ball with the same hand and an overhand grip. If you can’t catch the ball, you can put your other hand under it and catch it, so you don’t have to waste time running after it.
Catch ten balls with each hand.
The ball dribble drill is very simple, and if you have a ball with you, you can do it anywhere.
4. Stalk Blocking Drill
One of the main jobs of a receiver is to block the defenders of the other team. Even though a wide receiver may not always need to break through a defender, being able to stalk block is a very useful skill.
You will need a partner in order to do the stalk blocking drill. You should be standing about 5 yards apart. Your partner should have a foam pad in their hands.
In general, this is how stalk blocking is done in a textbook:
- You should hit the ball hard as you release it. This is done to make the defender think that you will get a pass.
- Close in on the defender and try to hit them in the middle.
- Your feet should always be moving so you can respond quickly to what the defender does. Always keep the defender in front of you.
- When the defender starts to get away from the block, go after them.
- Keep track of and follow the defender wherever they go.
5. The “Sandwich” Drill
The goal of the sandwich drill is to teach wide receivers how to get open when there are other people around. This drill is done this way in its standard form:
- The wide receiver stands one foot away from each of the other two players.
- The receiver takes one fake and runs to the right or left when told to do so. The two players try to block the receiver’s view of the ball and push him around so he can’t catch it.
- The receiver has to catch the ball that the coach throws at him or her.
There is a version of this drill without any commands that is a little different. Instead, once everyone is in place, the coach throws a jump ball that the receiver has to catch.
6. Basic Ball Catching Drill
The USA Football blog has a great summary of drills for catching the ball, which you can look at on your own if you want to. Here are some of their tips and tricks in a shorter format.
So, the three most common mistakes wide receivers make when catching the ball, according to USA Football, are:
- Not focusing on the ball. Keeping track of the ball is key to a successful catch. To reinforce the need to focus on the ball, some coaches mark an “X” on the ball’s nose as a point of reference for wide receivers. Others talk about “taking a picture of the ball”.
- Not adjusting to the ball. Balls aren’t always thrown perfectly, so wide receivers need to be able to adjust to subpar passes. Even if the quarterback fails to make a good throw, the wide receiver can still rectify the situation by adapting quickly.
- Not running through the catch. Running through after a catch also needs to be taught. Young receivers may struggle with following up a catch, so running through needs to be practiced separately.
And here are the proposed drills to fix these issues.
Lack of focus on the ball
The head coach at Washington State, Mike Leach, came up with this drill. Leach does this drill to help him pay more attention to the ball:
- A player stands with both hands out in front of a goal post.
- The player is hit with a ball by the coach. Beginners can catch the ball with both hands, but more experienced players can use only one hand.
The goal of this drill is to help receivers keep their eyes on the ball and reach out to catch it in crowded areas of the field.
Not adjusting to the ball while catchin
At every practice, wide receivers at Clemson University do the following drill to get used to the ball:
- The receiver faces the coach as he or she stands. The distance between the coach and receiver is about 10 yards.
- The coach throws different kinds of passes, like inside balls, outside balls, low balls, and high balls.
By switching between different kinds of passes, the coach forces the players to learn how to handle the ball quickly.
Not running through the catch
Ohio State uses agility bags to fix the problem of not running through the catch. Here’s how the drill works:
- There are three bags on the ground, one yard apart.
- The wide receivers use the agility bags to simulate different breaks and stay low.
- As soon as the receiver gets around the last bag, they grab the ball and run as fast as they can upfield.
7. The Circle Drill
The goal of this drill is to improve speed and how quickly you can react to the ball. Here’s how you do the circle drill:
- Four people form a small circle. Every one of these players needs a ball.
- A fifth player stands in the middle of the circle, 3 yards from each player.
- One of the outside players should face the player in the middle.
- When the drill starts, the player on the outside should pass the ball to the player in the middle.
- The player in the middle should catch the ball, throw it back to the player on the outside, and turn right.
- The middle player keeps getting the ball from the outside players and tossing it back to them.
This drill is usually done in a clockwise direction, but you can also do it in the opposite direction. Also, the player in the middle can catch the ball with either hand or neither.
8. The Razzle A Drill
This drill is kind of like the circle drill, but it has 4 players and 2 balls instead of just 2. This is how the razzle A drill is done:
- Four people make a circle. The players to the right and left of the receivers need to be 5 yards away.
- Two receivers who face each other should each take a ball.
- The receivers should throw the ball to the receiver on the right when told to do so.
- The receivers will keep throwing the ball until the coach tells them to stop or change direction.
- When the receivers hear the word “reverse,” they should start throwing the ball to the left.
9. The Razzle B Drill
Razzle B is a harder version of Razzle A. Again, there are four people playing, but this time there are four balls.
This is how the drill is done:
- Four receivers are lined up in a circle, 5 yards apart on their sides, just like in Razzle Dazzle A.
- Two receivers who are facing each other should throw their balls at each other on command, one high and one low.
- The other two receivers also throw the ball at each other, but one throws to the right and the other to the left.
The people who catch the ball should switch between the throws they make.
The Razzle-B drill is hard because the receivers have to keep track of their ball, which can be hard for players who haven’t done it before.
10. The Side To Side Run Drill
The side-to-side run drill helps you catch better and be more coordinated. Aside from that, the drill is pretty hard and helps improve fitness.
Here’s how this drill is done:
- Two players should face each other on the goal line. There should be 5 yards between each player. Someone should be holding a ball.
- The players should start running sideways toward the end zone when they are told to.
- Players should pass the ball back and forth as they run.
- When the players get to the end zone, they should take a short break and do the drill again.
The goal is to get to the end zone as fast as possible while passing as many times as possible.
11. The End Line Catch Drill
The goal of this drill is to help the wide receiver catch better passes near the end zone. The end line catch drill is easy to understand in theory, but it is hard to do in real life.
This is how the drill works:
- Set up the receiver near the end line.
- When told to, the receiver should start running at half speed along the end line.
- A high ball should be thrown in front of the player by the coach.
- The player needs to catch the ball while staying as close as possible to the end line.
12. The Tapdance Drill
The tapdance drill is meant to help the wide receiver catch the ball closer to the sidelines. Here’s how to do this drill:
- The player should stand about 15 yards from the sideline and face it.
- When told to, the player should start running toward the sideline at half speed.
- When the player is about 5 yards from the sideline, the coach should throw the ball.
- When the player catches the ball, he or she should put one or both feet in the playing area.
- The player should go out of bounds so that the drill can be done by the other players
13. The Turn & Up Drill
The tap-dance drill is similar to the turn-and-up drill. It again makes it easier for a receiver to catch the ball near the sideline. But the player also has to turn and run upfield after catching the ball.
The start of the turn-and-up drill is the same as the start of the tap-dance drill. But the coach should throw the ball in front of the player for about 8–10 yards. When the receiver gets the ball, he or she should run upfield.
This drill should be done on both sides so that receivers can learn how to catch the ball on either sideline.
14. The M Drill
Wide receivers can improve their footwork with the M drill. This is how the drill works:
- Set up four cones in a 5-by-5-yard area.
- Put another cone in the middle of your group of four. If you put a line through the cones in a certain way, you’d get the letter M. This is how the drill got its name.
- The receiver should place themselves at one of the four cones in the corners.
- The receiver should run as fast as they can toward a different cone. When the receiver gets to the cone, they should slow down and chop their feet while turning in toward the middle cone and running as fast as they can. The turn toward the middle should look like a curl or a hook.
- As the receiver gets closer to the middle cone, he should again get on the ground and chop his feet.
- The receiver should then turn and sprint toward the second cone, which is diagonally across from the first.
- At the cone, the wide receiver should again slow down, chop their feet, and then head toward the cone to the side of the starting cone.
When running, the wide receiver needs to move around the cones in a way that looks like the letter “M.” For variety, the drill should be started both from the left and right sides of the cone arrangement.
Players with more skill can also reach down and tap the cone with the inside of their hand. This small change is meant to remind players to drop their hips and stay low during the break.
4th & 10
This post is by no means complete, and experienced coaches will be able to give you many more wide receiver drills for kids to help you improve your game. But I think the drills we’ve looked at so far are enough for now.
Wide receivers should focus on their catches and speed, but they also need to be strong and be able to break through the defence.