Updated: Mar 15
In my previous article, we touched on the importance of training the eyes, because they play a critical role in our ability to catch the ball. As you know, we do not just use our eyes to catch the ball, we must have strong hands.
Having strong, not aggressive hands when catching the ball is critical. Strong hands allow us to make the contested catch in traffic or maintain possession on the way to the ground. I have taken the liberty to discuss a few drills that you can work into your routine to develop your hand strength.
1. Quick Ball/Item Drops
In order to do this drill, you must have a football or an item with a weight equivalent or more to a football. Please ensure that the item you use does not have any sharp edges that can potentially injure the hand. With the ball in your 5 fingers, hold the ball slightly away from the body and allow the ball to fall. Before the ball hits the ground or even falls more than a few centimeters from your hand, quickly grab the ball again using your fingers.
With this exercise, you can challenge yourself with the number of reps you do. We typically will aim for 500 on each hand. This exercise is guaranteed to leave you with a nice pump of the forearms.
ADVANCED TIP: Try completing this exercise by using just the thumb an
d 1 other finger at a time. The pinky is the weakest of all the fingers, so do not forget to strengthen it!
2. Brick Squeezes
This drill is very similar to the "Quick Ball Drops", except with the brick we will only be squeezing it and not dropping it. Grab a decent-sized brick according to your strength that you can firmly grip with one hand.
While holding the brick away from the body, squeeze the brick using all fingers for 10 seconds then release and rest for 5 seconds. Repeat 6 times to complete 1 set. Try to complete 5 sets of Brick Squeezes or as many as you can do.
ADVANCED TIP: Just like with the Quick Ball Drops, try completing this exercise by using just the thumb and 1 other finger at a time. The pinky is the weakest of all the fingers, so do not forget to strengthen it!
3. Rubber Band Extensions
We've worked the hands strengthen in one direction, now let's work the hands in the opposite direction. Being able to extend the fingers is just as important as being able to clasp them together to make a fist.
Use a wide, strong rubber band that will set around your fingers at the knuckles. Resist against the band to expand your fingers, stretching them out as far as you possibly can. Hold this position for three to five seconds, then slowly control
the fingers in as you return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise for a total of 10 repetitions to complete 1 set. Try to complete 5 sets of Rubber Band Extensions or as many as you can do.
ADVANCED TIP: The best athletes have a unique ability to not allow the band to fly off the fingers.
*Bonus* To get the most out of the exercises, catch passes in between each exercise or catch passes after you complete all of the exercises. No greater exercise can improve your catching than actually catching a ball.