Qualitative Analysis Of Catching

As a volunteer youth football coach you are working with your receivers on catching passes. Many young players pick up bad habits from playing neighborhood pick-up football games or watching the pros get by with talent rather than optimal technique. The technique points and cues you typically use are listed in Table 10.5. Notice how the critical features are more advanced and specialized than the catching technique points in chapter 9 (e.g., Table 9.4). Which biomechanical principles are strengths and weaknesses in the catching illustrated in Figure 10.5? How would you diagnosis this situation and intervene?

The player in Figure 10.5 made a successful running catch, but the illustration does not show enough of the movement so that we can tell whether the player protect-

Table 10.5 Technique Points and Cues for Catching a Football Pass

Technique points

Possible teaching/ intervention cues

Visual focus Watch the ball, look for the seams

Intercept Move and reach towards the ball

Hand position Thumbs in or thumbs out

Absorption Give with your hands and arms

Protection Give and tuck the ball away ed the ball by tucking it into their body. The illustrated view makes it difficult to tell if the player extended his arms (Range of Motion) to intercept the ball and provided time (Force-Time) to absorb the kinetic energy of the ball. Not only is reaching for the ball important in being able to increase the

Biomechanical Picture Catching Ball
Figure 10.5. A football player making a catch in practice.

time of force application in order to slow the ball, but visual information on the arms/hands may also help intercept projectiles (van Donkelaar & Lee, 1994). Evaluation of this performance does not clearly identify any weaknesses in application of biomechanical principles.

A good intervention strategy would be to praise the player's effort and visual focus on the ball. Reinforcement of important technique points and motivation are good intervention goals while the coach waits to see if subsequent trials demonstrate no major weaknesses. How might the coach increase the difficulty of the catching drill to see if poor technique develops? Catching in a game situation involves many more environmental distractions. A knowledge of research concerning technique errors (Williams & McCririe, 1988) and environmental constraints (Savelsbergh & Whiting, 1988) in catching is clearly relevant for coaching football. What would be a better perspective for the coach to observe if the player is really reaching away from the body to intercept the ball?

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