(English) Many players will catch proficiently without instruction from their basketball coach, however, the coach should not assume that all players can catch and must be ready to teach how to catch or correct how a player catches the ball.

The importance of catching cannot be overemphasised – not only because a missed catch will often be a turnover, but a poorly executed catch can affect the player’s ability to shoot, dribble or pass effectively.

Fundamentals of Catching

Players should first be instructed to catch the ball with two hands using the following technique:

  • Fingers pointing up;
  • Thumbs pointing toward each other;
  • Palms facing toward the ball, with hands comfortably at chest high;
  • Let the ball come into the hands;
  • As the player catches the ball, their thumbs and “pointer” fingers will be behind the ball. The other fingers will be on the side of the ball.

The player should watch the ball until it is in their hands. Their hands may move towards their body as they catch the ball, absorbing the momentum of the pass.

Common Problems when Catching

There are a number of problems that are commonly observed, particularly when coaching young players:

  1. Not having hands behind the ball. This is often characterized by the player moving their hands together as they attempt to catch in a clapping movement.  This will often mean that the player’s fingers are pointing towards the ball, which can result in a painful injury if the ball hits the fingers.
  2. Not looking at the ball. Some players do not look at the ball (and even close their eyes), which will result in their hands not being in the correct position to catch.  This is particularly so if the player has previously hurt their fingers when trying to catch.
  3. Hands or fingers too close together. If a young player’s hands are too close together, the ball will often bounce off their hands as they do not get sufficient grip on the ball.
  4. Fingers pointing at the ball.  This is most commonly seen when a player “claps” to get the attention of the passer, and then has their hands close together.  Players should be encouraged to use their voice to get the passer’s attention and to have their hands in a good catching position.

Teaching Catching Technique

Once the coach has explained the key points of catching, giving the players plenty of opportunities to catch may be all the “coaching” that is required.  Remind them as necessary of the correct technique (e.g. “show your hands”, “fingers up” etc).  This can be done mostly “on the run”, without needing to stop activities.

However, with some players the coach may need to do more to teach catching technique:

  • “Maravich Drills” – there are an almost infinite number of ball handling drills, often named after NBA great Pete Maravich. The importance is for players to get used to controlling the ball in their hands, which is particularly important for young players with small hands.  Some examples are:
  • Ball wraps – pass the ball around the body (waist, neck or knees) from one hand to another. Encourage players to go so fast that they drop the ball.  Go in both directions.
  • Air Dribble – hold the ball in one hand, toss it up and catch it in the same hand. Start with low throws and progress to high throws and both hands at the same time!
  • Figure 8 – move the ball around one leg and then the other in a figure 8 pattern. Young players may start by rolling the ball in this pattern, progressing to passing it from hand to hand.
  • Hard Catch – holding the ball in two hands, the player throws it into the ground as hard as they can, immediately catching it in both hands.
  • Tug of War – one player holds the ball in both hands at chest height, facing their team mate (or coach). The team mate puts two hands on the ball and pulls it away.  They then push the ball back into the player’s hands.  Do this five times and then swap roles.
  • Change the Ball – it is important with young players to use a ball that is an appropriate size for them.  A size 5, or even size 3, ball can help a player to develop confidence.