Technique Tuesday – Quarterback Throwing Motion

June 21st, 2016

“Throwing the football well is not about doing one or two big things great.  Instead, it is about perfecting a thousand different parts of an intricate, complicated chain that starts in the toes and ends at the finger tips.” – David Flemming

Quarterbacking is more than perfecting footwork; it’s about mastering each sequential movement from snap to throw.

Checkpoint 1  |  Triangle

With the elbows level at the base and a loaded wrist in the “cocked” position off the back shoulder, the triangle shape provides for a powerful position to launch the football.  This pre-throw carriage position reduces the tendency to wind up on the throw, aligns the throwing arm in a position that generates arm power, and reduces wasted motion resulting in a faster release.


Checkpoint 2  |  Short Circle

Trigger the arm circle by bringing the ball from the carriage to a loaded position.  Ideally, the quarterback should push the ball up and back away from the chest – never bringing the ball down below the chest and looping around.  This will shorten arm action and quicken release time.


Checkpoint 3  |  L Position

The move to the “L” position is done by bringing the ball further up and back, pointing the nose of the ball away from the target.  When the arm is in the “L” position it helps to maximize arm power and acceleration.  Keeping the ball tight to your head will result in a high elbow drive, maximizing throw power and minimizing strain in Checkpoints 4 and 5.


Checkpoint 4  |  Elevate to “Zero”

The lead position the elbow has to be in to support the wrist.  You may have heard coaches say “get the elbow up” – because the elbow only needs to go high enough to get over and ahead of the shoulder on the throw.   The smoothness and efficiency of this move is the key to consistent power and accuracy on a throw.  The “Zero” position places the elbow 6 inches ahead of the shoulder, 45 degrees up and out.  “Zero” position is the orthopedic term given to this position because the rotator cuff muscles are neutral with no strain on them – that is, it’s the optimal position prior to the release because it minimizes strain on the joints and muscles involved in football throwing mechanics.

zero position quarterback mechanics

Checkpoint 5  |  Arm Extension

The throwing arm now releases its energy, extended outward and upward toward the intended target.  Complete extension, and firing the wrist at the exact moment, maximizes power, accuracy and spiral of the ball.  Throwing over the top, as seen below, is harped upon by coaches at all age levels because the chain of power that occurs as the tricep fires energy up through arm and out through the wrist/fingers into the ball is maximized when the arm is fully extended upward and outward.


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The expertise of Darin Slack and Dub Maddox contributed to this compilation.  For even more on improving throwing mechanics, click here.

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