The wide receiver in American Football (sometimes referred to as ‘wideout’ or just a ‘receiver’) is the player who specialises in catching passes. The player elected to be a wide receiver is normally the fastest and most agile player in the team and seen as one of the favourites by spectators and players alike. He is sometimes known as the deep threat because of his incredible speed.
The primary role of the wide receiver is to catch passes from the quarterbacks, who are leaders of the offensive team. The player must do this whilst dodging and outrunning the defenders and thus attempting to run downfield. There are a number of steps you must practise in order to be a good wide receiver and these are as follows.
Firstly, you must learn how to catch a pass effectively. In order to do this, you must be ready with your hands in the right position: the thumbs and first fingers of your hands must be together forming what should look like a basket into which the ball will land. This way you’ll be able to cradle and the cushion the ball when it lands.
Secondly, you must be clear on “pass routes” you will use. There are four parts of this: the release, glide, sprint and burst. Most important is the “glide” which is the point immediately after the pass in which you must break free of the defender by rapidly altering your path. A good tip is that if the defensive player is away from where you are trying to go, run at him instead, otherwise run away from him and make him follow you.
There are then a number of short, medium and deep patterns that you can run. A good video where an expert explains some of these can be seen here as it shows you how best to run the different routes. For example, you could use short patterns such as the “hitch” pattern where you run fast in one direction making the defender think you are going deep and then turning suddenly to take another pass or the “quick out” route where after driving off the line you make make two 45 degree turns to the outside.
Anyone who wants to be a wide receiver must be ambitious and up for a challenge. It helps to be tall and of light weight, and have a good concentration. Above all speed is a must: successful wide receivers can not only run in a straight line at speed but also dodge and change direction without changing in speed as well.
Playing the role of a wide receiver is very exciting but it must be remembered that you will have to run almost continuously throughout the game and will often have to collide with team members after you take a pass. If you are a wide receiver you must remember to take lots of practise in thinking on your feet and running wide receiver routes the fastest you can: this is best done without a ball.