How to Be a Good Wide Receiver

Two Parts:Learning About the PositionPerfecting Your Skills

To be the best wide receiver on your (American) football team, you have to be fast and catch well. Receiver is what they call a "skill position," and there's some glory that comes with it, but you have to be pretty tough to withstand the physical abuse that accompanies the position, too. That means you really have to want to play wide receiver. It's a tough job -- even a little dangerous! -- and it requires a lot of work. Here are some suggestions for improving your chances of success.

Part 1
Learning About the Position

  1. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 1
    Learn about the different wide-receiver positions.
    • Split end. A receiver on the line of scrimmage split one or more steps outside the tackle. The receiver has to be fast and strong enough to break through a jamming opponent at the line and quickly get open for a pass.
    • Flanker. A receiver behind the line of scrimmage split one or more steps outside the tackle. He has to break through and past opponents at the line The flanker is on the same side as the tight end, lined up just like a split end but a step or two behind the line.
    • Slot back. He lines up in the backfield between the split end and the tackle.
  2. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 2
    Watch professional wide receivers. Learn from the pros. Watch how they move and interact with the ball so you can emulate what works for them.

Part 2
Perfecting Your Skills

  1. Image titled Increase Your Running Stamina Step 11
    Create a workout routine. To be a wide receiver you must be fast and agile. Strength is not usually as important but comes in handy when an opponent tries to tackle you.
  2. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 4
    Work on speed and agility. For example, do several 20-yard dashes in succession. Increase your distance to 25 or 30 yards for several repetitions. You need to be able to run hard many times with only short breaks in between. The faster you move, the more likely it is you'll be able to evade the defense.
  3. Image titled Increase Your Running Stamina Step 1
    Work on stamina. Take jogs and maintain a breathing pattern to prevent cramps.
  4. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 6
    Run routes: the slant, hitch, curl, hook, and post. Your coach or a teammate can demonstrate each to you.
  5. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 7
    Practice catching on the routes. As a receiver you'll be catching the ball a lot, so practice catching as much as you can. A simple game of catch is good, but try to hook up with a good passer who can help you run routes and take good passes. A good passer will lead you with the ball (that is, he'll throw to where you will be, not to where you are.)
    • Develop "soft" hands. In other words, provide a "cushion" for the ball as it arrives. You don't want the ball to bounce off your hands.
    • Look at the ball until it's safely in your hands. Looking for an opponent before you have full possession of the ball often results in an incomplete pass.
  6. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 8
    Keep at it. Practice every day. If you slack off, it's easy to lose your competitive edge.
  7. Image titled Be a Good Wide Receiver Step 9
    Learn trick plays. Also known as "fakes," these are designed to fool the opponent. Wide receivers are sometimes called on to appear to run a particular play but then suddenly run something else. In other words, you're called upon to be a good "actor."


  • Practice with players who are better than you. This is the fastest way to improve.
  • Learn the route tree (your team's numbering system for calling pass plays).
  • Give 100% on each play. Play with confidence and don't back down. During a game the battle between the receiver and the defender is not only physical, it's mental. Keep the defender guessing about your next move, and leave him unsure of himself as the game progresses.
  • On the hitch route expect the ball right after you turn around.
  • As the ball approaches you, spread your fingers but keep them loose. The ball is not very heavy: "soft" hands will be able to control and contain the ball no matter how hard or how far it's been thrown.
  • Use the "rocket stance" when lining up: feet apart, one farther forward than the other, body balanced, ready to push off the rear foot, and a smooth motion toward the line of scrimmage once the ball is snapped.
  • On the slant route the football is probably not going to come right to you but above you or in front of you. You'll have to be willing to leave your feet in such cases, which leaves you vulnerable to hard hits.
  • Focus on the ball all the way to your hands. If you're worrying instead about the defender, you hurt your chances of a completion.
  • Experienced wide receivers are good at catching the ball just before stepping out of bounds on the sideline. This is a skill you'll develop as you gain experience and confidence.
  • "Soft" hands have to become "hard" as soon as you catch the ball. Defenders will try to hit you so hard you'll fumble the ball, so you need to be able to hold on to the ball no matter how hard you're hit.
  • Develop the ability to catch all kinds of passes. A "bullet" pass will come in straight and hard from a short distance. That's when "soft" hands help. A long, arcing pass will arrive on a downward trajectory, and you may need to catch it while looking over your shoulder or even looking above and behind your helmet.
  • Practice juking and the spin move.


  • Wide receivers get tackled a lot. You have to be able to take a hit, sometimes when you're off-balance and vulnerable. Football is a rough sport, and wide receiver can be a rough position.
  • Don't try to show off or make flashy catches. You could tear an ACL or break a bone.
  • Always stretch before playing to prevent pulling or even tearing a muscle.

Article Info

Categories: Football