Wide Receiver Drills With Tennis Balls (Videos)

Throw a football

Dominant wide receivers are reliable:

  • They have the speed to outrun defenders
  • The agility to make last second adjustments
  • and, most importantly, they have the ability to make impossible catches in a crowded situation.

Any coach at the youth, high school, college or pro level wants to help their players hone their catching skills and be the best wide receiver possible.

Why drill with tennis balls?

Conducting hand-eye coordination and reaction drills with tennis balls will help improve your players' receiving skills at all levels of the game.

Good Starts

Before conducting route-running drills, have your players perform a short warm-up to help avoid injury.

Wall-Reaction Drills

  1. Give your player a tennis ball and have him stand 8 feet from a sturdy wall.
  2. Instruct them to throw the ball against the wall with their right hand and catch it with their right hand.
  3. Tell them to vary the height and pace of the throw and repeat 10 times.

Advanced Wall-Reaction Drills

  1. Instruct your receiver to change their catching hand.
  2. Have them throw the ball with their right hand and catch it with their left.
  3. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Ask them to increase the pace and throw the ball with their right hand and catch it with both hands.

Hand-eye Coordination Tennis Balls Wide Receiver Drill

  1. Stand behind your player and ​throw the ball over their shoulder​ toward the wall.
  2. Instruct them to catch the ball 10 times with just their right hand, then with their left and finally with both hands.


  1. Instruct your receiver to turn around so their ​back is to the wall​ and have them face you.
  2. Throw the ball​ and tell your player to quickly turn around and catch it before it bounces on the ground.

Adjust the ball size. For example, use smaller balls, such as racquetball balls, to challenge your players' focus.

Hand-Eye Drills For Receivers

  1. Stand 5 to 6 feet​ from your player with a couple of tennis balls.
  2. Toss a ball​ and have him catch it with either his right or left hand. This will depend on where the ball was thrown -- to the left, catch with his left hand or with his right if thrown to his right.
  3. Have them quickly ​toss it back​, and while the ball is on its way back to you, toss them another ball.
  4. After they catch it, have them quickly toss the ball back and then toss another.
  5. Vary the direction and height of the ball toss.

To spot, then catch a ball

Conduct a drill to help your receiver spot and catch a ball over his shoulder.

  1. Place two cones 5 yards apart.
  2. Have your player stand behind and to the side of the first cone while you stand behind them with a tennis ball.
  3. When you say "​go​," instruct him to run toward the second cone as you toss him a tennis ball.
  4. Have them catch it over their shoulder with their opposite hand.

For example, if the ball was thrown over their left shoulder, have them catch it with their right hand.

To improve route running

Improve your player's hand-eye skills by catching tennis balls while in stride, running route patterns.

  1. Have them stand 10 to 15 yards to your left.
  2. On your signal instruct him to run 10 yards straight ahead, quickly turn to their right and keep running.
  3. Just as they turns, throw him a ball.
  4. Tell them to watch the ball all the way into their hands, then finish running the pattern.

1. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Improve Catch and Route Runnin

Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022. Above he points out his training drills to improve.

2. Over the shoulder drill

3. Super Bowl MVP WR Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp WR Drills to Improve Route Running, Release and Creating Separation.