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How to Catch an Over the Shoulder Pass in Football

An over-the-shoulder pass is one of the most challenging in the sport of football. These passes fool professional wide receivers all the time and frequently slip through their fingers as they fall empty-handed into the end zone. But you can learn how to increase the odds of catching an over-the-shoulder pass in football by following these steps. It takes a lot of concentration, coordination and most importantly you have to keep your eye on the ball. This isn't easy because you are looking backwards over your shoulder, running and trying to look the ball into your hands, which are out in front of you.

Run down the field and turn your head to sight the ball in the air. Look at the path of the ball, judge by its arc and speed where it will land and start running to that point. If you can make it to that point before the ball does, adjust your speed several times, to fool any defenders, speed up and then slow down, always keeping an eye on the ball.

Sight the ball once as it is reaching its apex, or highest point in its trajectory, once as it is in the highest point and then again as it starts to descend.

Align yourself so the ball's trajectory drops right over your head, then extend your arms, palms up and slightly cupped around an imaginary bowl shape.

Take one last look at the ball trajectory and move the imaginary bowl shape right under, just like you are trying to catch a ball dropped out of window in the bowl. Make sure your palms are up and facing the ball, and fingers together, forming a solid bowl or mitt to catch the ball in. Keep looking back over your shoulder as the ball comes down.

Sight the ball into your mitt, turning your head back and up, then following it around with your eyes as it passes over your head, until you can see your hands and the ball together.

Sight the ball right into your hands. This will be the last four feet or so of the ball's descent. Let it fall into your palms softly, by giving a little as the ball lands in your hands. This soft landing will prevent the football from bouncing out off your palms.

Secure and control the ball with your hands before you pull the ball into your chest. If you try to pull it right against your chest, and your arms are extended, there is a good chance you will lose control of the ball before you can trap it against your chest.


Sighting the ball is very important. Looking back over your shoulder and judging a trajectory takes a lot of skill, you need to judge your own speed, and time the descent of the ball. With practice, this will become easier and can be mastered. If you misjudge the ball trajectory and it lands closer to your body, bend your arms but keep your elbows close together to trap the ball against your forearms and chest.


  • Your thumbs can sometimes get in the way when catching an overhead pass, so make sure you bend them outwards, and flatten your palms. Do not try to catch the ball with your forearms, because it is difficult to bring them close enough together to properly trap the ball. Your hands are much more agile and dexterous.
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