It’s interesting how often I seem to read about a guy having fumbling issues being put through a bunch of drills to help him hold onto the ball better. On one level, it seems to make sense: if there is a problem, raise awareness of the issue, seek some help, do some drills, and try to overcome it.
But I’m just not sure I like this approach for fumbling. I just read the following from a Clark Judge article at cbssports.com about Adrian Peterson’s fumbling problem:
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: He has the strongest handshake on earth, yet he hasn’t figured out to hold on to the football. Not yet, at least, and I don’t get it. Neither do the Vikings, who put Peterson through all sorts of ball-security drills this summer, hoping to reduce or eliminate the yips that plagued him and the Vikings in last year’s conference championship game. “Really,” said Peterson, who fumbled seven times during the regular season, “my thing is all mental. On the majority of my fumbles, I’m going down and I find myself putting the ball out and bracing myself. So I just have to be more cautious about that, and keep it high and tight.” Peterson is a marvelous back, one of the two best in the game, but he must clean up the fumbling for Minnesota to go forward.
Again, putting a guy through “all sorts of ball security drills” may seem to most like a perfectly valid thing to do when a guy has a fumbling problem. But I’d take a different approach – an approach that may seem to run in the face of what I do professionally (counseling/workplace consulting). I would stop talking about it completely. I wouldn’t put the RB through special drills, make him carry a ball around with him everywhere (like some coaches have done) or any of the other contrived methods. I would simply say at the beginning of spring camp “hey, don’t fumble so much this year”. Thereafter, not a word.
Sometimes I think it can be a bad thing for some folks, if they become overly aware of a weakness. It can be mentally debilitating. Adrian Peterson and other fumblers know they have a fumbling problem. They know that their fumbling hurts their respective teams. So why pound it home? If they have a fumbling problem in the first place, they are probably a bit mentally rattled already – as Peterson essentially notes above. Further rattling won’t help. To be clear, I’m not saying this because I think ball-security drills are harsh for players etc – not at all. I just think that in order to curb the fumbling problem, it would be smarter to not say much of anything.
(For the Packers’ sake, I hope Peterson becomes so overly conscious of fumbling he just runs around as fast as Lynn Dickey with 2 arms around the ball the whole time, or that he just falls down before tacklers come to get him – like Favre did for Strahan.)