Throwing the Football: Techniques
As we talk about techniques in throwing the football, today I’m going to talk a lot about two things. I’m going to talk to you about extension and I’m going to talk to you about efficiency.
When I speak of extension, I speak of something that all great quarterbacks do. Whether that’s John Elway, whether that’s Dan Marino, whether that’s Troy Aikman, whether that’s myself when I evaluate how I’m throwing a football.
Okay, when I speak about extension, I want to get on top of the ball. I want the ball back in my stance and when I throw and release the ball, I want that kind of extension.
Now all those guys I mentioned before, they do it a little bit differently. John Elway would get extension, a little bit more three-quarters. Troy Aikman would get that extension a little bit more over the top. Peyton Manning, would also get extremely over the top in his release with his extension.
What does that allow you to do? That allows you to throw the ball with great velocity, with great accuracy, and with great efficiency, which is what we’re going to get into next.
The second aspect we’re going to talk about in our technique is efficiency.
There are a number of guys on this planet that can throw a football 60 or 70 yards. And that’s not the key to quarterbacking. The key to quarterbacking is to be efficient. Through my throwing motion, through my drops, through every movement that I do on the field, I want to be as efficient as possible.
The first part of our efficiency is balance. No matter what I’m doing, I want to have great balance.
You’ll see a lot of guys, and especially a lot of young quarterbacks, who will get under center and through their drop they’ll be off balance and they’ll be all over the place.
You lose time, you lose accuracy, and you lose efficiency when you’re not on balance. Throughout my whole process, when I’m under center, when I take my first step, when I take my whole drop, I want to be on great balance. And even when I step and I finish my throw, I should be on balance. Balance is the first key to efficiency.
As we speak about the technique of efficiency, not only do I want to be balanced throughout my whole drop and my whole throw, I also want to be as compact as I can be. The more compact I am, the more efficient I am. The more compact I am, the more I can repeat that motion. The more compact I am, the more accurate I am.
Just as you don’t see many golf swings on the PGA tour that flail around like the 20 handicappers on the municipal courts, you don’t see a lot of NFL quarterbacks who flail around with the ball in the pocket. You don’t have time to do that. The higher you go, from high school to college to professionally, the more efficient you have to be. And if you can think about being compact throughout the whole process… when I’m under center, I don’t have a lot of extra movement. I’m compact in my movement.
And in my delivery, I never want to sacrifice extension. I don’t ever want to shot put the ball, but I want to be as compact as I can be with my shoulders, with my upper body, with my lower body. I don’t want to flail.
The last technique we’re going to talk about is probably the most simple. And that is the art of quarterback and the art of throwing involving a quick release. We’ve talked about balance. We’ve talked about being compact. I was a guy that could never run real fast or jump real high. And being a big guy at almost 6′ 6″, my dad, who was my high school coach, made for certain that I had a quick release. He said, “You may not run the fastest. You may not be the best athlete on the field, but the one thing you can control in your throwing motion is your release and how quick it is.”
Don’t have any hiccups, don’t have any extended hitches. I want you to replace your shoulders as quick as I can. When I have that ball up and I go from point A to point B and I get that extension, I want to come right through and replace those shoulders. The quicker I replace my shoulders, the quicker I deliver the ball, the quicker my release.
Our techniques: efficiency, being compact, being on balance, and having a quick release. Our other technique is extension.
The Fundamentals of Playing Quarterback
So we’ve talked about the technique involved when throwing a football. We’ve talked about extension. We’ve talked about being efficient. Now we’re going to get into the fundamentals of playing quarterback and the fundamentals of throwing a football.
The very first fundamental we’re going to discuss today is simply our stance. Our approach when we’re under center. Just like when I talked about in our efficiency, I don’t want to be all over the place when I’m under center. A lot of times I’ll see young quarterbacks and they’ll be hunched over.
I’d ask them, “When you go to vertical jump, are you hunched over when you vertical jump? Are you ever hunched over when you’re playing an athletic position?” No, you’re not. You want your chest up. I want to be in as athletic a position I can so I can move as quickly as I can from the line of scrimmage. I want my chest up and my feet square.
Different coaches have different philosophies. Some will stagger their stance a little bit; I’ve had coaches who have had me do that. Some had me nice and square. The whole point is that I want to be on balance, I want to be in athletic position, and I want my chest up so I can what’s going on.
And when I receive that football from the center, I want to be able to move as quickly as I can. I want to get out away from the line of scrimmage. I never want to false step. I never want any extra movement. When I’m under center and I take that snap, I want to be ready to move and get out of the pocket.
Do you think your quarterback would benefit from a football practice dedicated to the position’s techniques and fundamentals? Why or why not?