We covered the first two non-negotiable quarterback mechanics elements in our previous post.
Non-negotiable #3 is...
Stride / Seperation
BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT AND MOST POORLY COACHED PORTION OF TEACHING MECHANICS
Stepping with lead foot and the separation of the hands happens at the same time and the distance traveled correlates between the two. The front foot is a short 6 inch step where the QB simply picks up his foot and puts in down, whereas the hands separate from each other and the throwing hand travels horizontally on the chest line and slightly past the back ear. The step is slightly to the left of the target for right-handers and to the right of the target for left-handers.
If a picture was taken in this moment both arms look the same in a horizontal L position that we say is Opposite Equal.
The lower body portion of this phase is the stride. It is short with the front foot and you are loading up your power on your back foot. Weight is located on the inside of your back foot at the toes with your heel slightly off the ground. This is where you are going to create ground-force because unlike pitchers in baseball we don't get to throw off of a mound, therefore we must create out own leverage to push and drive. This angle of our foot will allow us to turn ground-force into rotational force similar to a hitter in baseball.
It is the rotational force that generates power in the throw without loss of accuracy. The "opposite equal" arm separation, combined with the short step allows the quarterback to rotate around their center of gravity, putting all their force into throwing the ball, instead of using the energy to move their body forward with a longer stride.
Next we bring it home with the proper sequencing.
Don't practice it, Master it!
During my time as a private instructor in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland region, I have heard one statement more than any other as it relates to why my training is different than other QB trainers in the area. "I like coming to you because you really focus on my throwing mechanics as opposed to doing drill work to fill up time."
I take this as one of my greatest compliments as I feel quarterback mechanics can make an average QB good and a good QB great.
However, the ironic part about that statement that many times comes directly from parents is that they are not aware of whether my instruction of mechanics is correct or even how my drills correlate to throwing mechanics. Many times students hear the word mechanics and that is exactly what they turn into during the training, a mechanical robot.
What we are trying to accomplish by working mechanics is to iron out the stagnant robotic movements that so many young quarterbacks have turned into as a result of over coaching minute details in a throwing motion. I always desire my players to throw the ball the same way they throw a rock, without thinking and relaxed.
Think about it, if you are walking down a nature path with your girlfriend and wanted to toss a rock in the woods, you would simply reach down rare back and fire not thinking where it went or if you used the proper arm motion. Now, imagine if you threw it like most young quarterbacks throw these days. First you would hold the rock as tight as you could, causing your whole upper body to tighten up. Then you might hold the rock right by your ear as to not have any "wasted" movement" (ever heard that one before?).
Once you were ready to throw you might take two approaches, depending on how you have been coached. One approach might be to try and spin the ball by having the rock slide off your hand after holding it like a waiter bringing out an entree Or, you may push the rock straight up into the air "punching" the sky so to speak and then "firing" the triceps in order to throw a spiral. Both movements would be robotic and not natural in terms of throwing an object.
As I stated earlier, every person throws different, but there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to mechanics that every QB needs to have in place in order to become consistent and accurate in their throwing. Remember, playing quarterback does not mean that you’re the best thrower, many times it means that you are the best person to pass the football because: (a) it goes where you want it to go, and (b) it is done consistently. Everyone can throw a football. Quarterbacks are able to throw a football with accuracy more consistently than anyone else on the team. PERIOD.
So, how do we get there? We will discuss the four main mechanical components of throwing the ball in the coming weeks. The four components are:
3. Stride or Separation
We will talk about the grip and carriage below, and tackle the other components in later blogs.
Pressure is focused in the fingertips.
No palm on the ball. You should be able to see daylight looking between the ball and your hand.
1 to 2 fingers are on the laces.
Thumb and Middle Finger are more towards the middle of the ball.
Ball is at chest level slightly towards your back pectoral muscle.
Upper body is the same if you are standing there or if you are moving around. Think of a duck on a pond. Whether a duck is moving or not, their upper-body remains the same.
Elbows are down and relaxed. Relaxation comes from traps and shoulder muscles being relaxed first.
Wrist is locked and firm (Younger QBS should cock the wrist towards their chest to get nose of the ball pointed at 45 degree angle, Helps get nose of the ball up pre pass)
Your jaw is on your front shoulder. Eyes down field.
Don't Practice It, Master It!