Hint: It’s the same reason that Shaq couldn’t consistently make free throws. It’s the difference between the start and the finish of the 100-meter dash.
Their instincts are to chase, to disrupt, to defend. They are typically quicker than the receivers, but can’t catch a cold. Why is that?
It’s because of their mindset. They are in fight-or-flight mode. And the catch is a delicate maneuver.
Receivers have a set path, and a plan of attack. The defensive strategy is entirely reactive, based on what they see from the offense. So thinking quickly is part of their programming. The problem is that thinking quickly does not help you catch a football.
Think about it…receivers catch more passes when they are hit in stride, and don’t have to react or adjust to a bad throw. It’s because the act of changing the path and reacting to an off-target throw takes more energy, and the time is the same.
Look at the catch rate of these receivers. Does it remind you of the free throw percentages in the NBA? It should. Receiving stats look just like free throw stats. The best catchers hover near 90%, and the worst are around 50%, some even dip below 40%. And you know what they call receivers that catch less than 50% of their passes: defensive backs.