Years ago I learned a valuable practice fundamental from a former NFL player named Larry Brunson. Yep, that’s Larry pictured to the left, big fro and all! Larry played for the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos between 1974 and 1980. He came from a little town in Southwestern Colorado called Cortez. Now this is just a tiny little town of about 8,500 people and that was as of 2009. I’m sure it was much smaller back in the late sixties. What’s interesting is that there is actually another NFL player that hailed from Mancos, Colorado which is only 18 miles from Cortez. Mancos is even smaller with a population of a little over 1,000 people. His name is Luther Ellis and he was the 20th player drafted in the first round in 1995 and played 10 years. What’s the odds of two NFL players coming from two tiny towns in Colorado only 18 miles apart?!
Larry and I were out throwing the ball around one day and he said “when you are warming up, don’t throw the ball to one another any further than five yards apart”. I said “why only five yards”? He said “because when you play catch from only five yards apart you don’t have much time to get your hands up to catch the ball. It increases your reaction time”.
To this day that is one thing I constantly preach to my players because Larry was exactly right! One of the warm-up drills I always use is to have the players stand only five yards apart from one another and throw the ball to each other with lots of velocity. I teach them to have their hands in a ready position which is at the waist. This way you have only half the distance to reach for the ball both above your head and below your waist. It has been a fantastic drill to help increase the reaction time of my receivers.
If you read my blogs you probably read the article where I compare the throwing motion between Tim Tebow and Tom Brady and I used the old adage of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Well, in Larry’s case, an old dog certainly can teach new tricks!
Coach Van Tassel