What’s it take to make seemingly impossible one-handed grabs like “the catch” look easy? New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has spent this off-season showing fans some of the training that makes his circus snags possible.
If you aren’t one of the roughly 5 million people who have tuned in to OBJ’s posts on Instagram, we’ll bring you up to speed: Doing what he does requires unorthodox workouts, performed on a variety of surfaces against a worthy opponent.
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In Beckham’s case, that opponent is trainer Jamal Liggin, whose head-to-head battles with the Giants wideout in an exercise aptly named “the Tennis Ball Drill” have been streamed nearly 600,000 times. In it, Liggin and OBJ square off in an acrobatic game of pitch-and-catch in which the trainer tosses two tennis balls at the receiver, who has to quickly change direction to grab them and deliver them back.
“This drill not only works on hand-eye coordination, it also improves your reaction time, balance and vision,” Liggin says. “I might be moving to the left but throwing the ball to your right, and you have to read that, adjust, make the catch and then get it back to me without dropping the ball. And [you have to] do it all while setting yourself up to make a play on the next one.”
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Liggin and Beckham perform the drill on a variety of surfaces, including grass (shown in the video above), sand and waist-deep in water. No matter the venue, the trainer says the Tennis Ball Drill translates directly to better performance on the field, because it teaches athletes to pay attention to several things at once.