More catching tips for hurling

Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Skill development

A while back, I posted a lengthy entry on my inability to catch the ball. I figured it would be a good time to revisit the idea with some more tips on making good catches in hurling.

TIME SAVER: If you become skilled at catching the sliotar in a game of hurling, you will literally gain time in the game. How so? Because you won't have to waste time trying to pick the ball up or stealing it from your opponent.

Before you continue on, be sure to read this entry too. While it focuses on goalkeeper skills, it also has a few tips on controlling the ball.


It’s important to remember that making good catches is truly a vital skill for the game. If you can instantly take control of a ball that comes near you, then your team is at an immediate advantage. You essentially gain time to execute your next play when you catch the ball, rather than scrambling to get control of it from the ground.

BEFORE NOT AFTER: When you are moving to catch the ball, you should always plan to get your body in front of the ball. Don’t extend your hand beyond your body to catch it because if you miss it, the ball just keeps going. If you put your body in front of the ball and you fail to catch it, the ball will likely hit you and immediately stop. That gives you another opportunity to take control of it.

UNDER NOT OVER: While it’s not always possible, try to catch the sliotar with an underhanded catch. This allows you to immediately slap it against your chest and protect it from other players. In fact, many players will position their arm flat against the chest, making their wrist a hinge that opens up for the catch and clamps closed when they ball arrives. Of course, you can’t always catch that way, but this is really good for catching hand passes and long balls where you’re the only reciever.

THE SPACE BETWEEN: When you’re not able to make an underhand catch, the best place to catch the sliotar is in the space where your fingers meet your palm. This provides just enough “give” to kill off the ball’s momentum. If you catch the ball straight into your palm, it tends to bounce back out unless you snap your fingers closed at the proper moment. If you try to catch the ball completely with your fingers, you put them at risk for injury if the ball slams into the fingertips by accident — which is something I have done many times.


While I was searching for art for this entry, I spotted one of my own drawings being used on an Irish GAA site to explain how to hold a hurley. Makes me proud that I, an American, am finally helping the Irish learn their own sport! Check it out here.

Also, if you want to buy that sliotar-in-hand clock-statue, go here.

1 Comment

  1. Here’s something I do wrong: I try to do the next thing, before I’ve done the first thing (EG I take my eyes off the ball to see where I am going to run, then miss the ball.) To remind myself to take the time to do one thing at a time, I like to quote my friend who was in the Army – during rifle drill, his DI’s used to tell the company the same thing over and over: “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”.
    Here’s something I do right: I juggle 3 stress balls when I am on a conference call! Juggling, skipping rope, and other “kids stuff” is really under-rated when it comes to athletic training.

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