How To Play Wide Receiver

Receiver Catching pass
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Wide Receiver

Wide receiver is one of the most exciting positions on the football field. Teams are passing more and more overall, and wide receivers are playing an important role at all levels.

Where Do They Line Up?

Wide receivers follow their namesake most of the time, and they're the widest players in the offensive formation. They can line up on either side, or both on one side. In a standard formation, there are two wide receivers on each side.

What Does a Wide Receiver Do?

These guys' primary responsibility is catching the football and gaining yardage. But they also have responsibility to block on certain run plays. On some plays, a wide receiver is required to "run off," which is where he runs hard like he's running a deep route. This will usually take the corner and one of the safeties out of range of an underneath route.

Who Should Play?

Wide receivers are a diverse group, with size and strength varying through the ranks. However, height is important, as it gains a receiver an advantage over a shorter cornerback. Speed and quickness are important for getting away from defenders and being open for passes.

How To Be A Great Wide Receiver

To be a great receiver, you've got to hone your skills constantly. It's not enough to be tall and fast. The fundamentals of catching the football have to be second nature to you. You have to know the mechanics of a good route, and how to get open, even when you're up against great defenders.

You've got to work on your strength, so that this year, you're stronger than you were last year, and next year, you'll be stronger than you are this year. You also have to study defenses. The best receivers know how to adjust their assigned routes depending on the coverage the defense gives you.

Role Models for Wide Receivers

It almost always helps for aspiring athletes to have role models, those great players who have come before who went on to great things.

Jerry Rice is the wide receiver usually thought of as the best to ever play the game. He had all of the physical attributes and he had the mental toughness to become, what many say, the greatest player in the history of the league.

Rice was 6-ffet-2 and 200 pounds, so he had the height and heft pro scouts look for in a receiver. But, while he did have speed, he did not have blazing, world-class speed. His time in the 40.-yard dash was "only" 4.6. That is considered only average for an NFL wide receiver.

But, Rice had other attributes that made up for his relative lack of speed. He ran great routes, he had superb hands and, more than anything else, he simply knew how to get open. He was also one of the hardest workers on the practice field.

All of this combined to make Rice a great wide receiver: He played for three SUper Bowl champions and holds most of the major receiving records in the game. Young players would do well to study Jerry Rice.