How to Throw an American Football?
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When it comes to throwing the football there are a couple of key things you must understand within the throwing motion in order to get a great spiral. This post can be used as a resource whether you are just starting out or have years of experience to help you simplify how to properly throw.
Steps To Throw a Football Properly
In this article, I’ll try to compartmentalize the mechanics of throwing a football so you can understand. I’ll also give you some drills to work on if you want to take your game to the next level. If you follow these steps, you’ll learn how to perfectly throw a football in no time.
Let’s have a look at the 6 steps I follow to throw a football:
Step 1: Placing Index Finger and Middle Finger
For a perfect spiral, you need to have a good grip on the football. My recommendation is to spread out your fingers as much as possible. Additionally, I put my index finger towards the top of the football which leaves a good amount of space between the index finger and middle finger in the top lace. Then the ring finger is two laces down from that and the pinky finger is all the way down on the bottom half of the football.
In order to throw a perfect spiral the index finger should be the last finger to be touching the ball as it leaves your hand. This grip will not work for everyone but you do want to establish a comfortable grip with plenty of space in the fingers to have the best control of the football while throwing.
Here are the steps to properly hold a football:
- Place your hand on the ball with your index finger closest to the point of the ball.
- Rest your middle finger on top of the white laces.
- Place the ring finger between the third and fourth laces from the top.
- Between the fifth and sixth laces from the back, insert your pinky finger.
- Wrap your thumb to be as close to the middle of the football as possible.
Quarterbacks vary usually vary between three and four fingers on the laces, with the remaining fingers wrapped around the back of the ball. Now that you know how to properly hold a football and use your throwing hand, let’s move on to the next step: bringing your throwing arm back.
Step 2: Bring Your Throwing Arm Back
In order to properly load to throw the ball you must start with the ball in the correct position. The ball wants to be somewhere between the chest and belly button height before starting the motion. Also, the nose of the football should be facing straight down, not up or to the side as seen above.
At this point, the nonthrowing hand should also be holding onto the football to make sure you are able to properly grip the ball. (I am trying to help you understand how to play football better but also prepare you for actually playing quarterback)
From here, the next action should be a backward movement from the hand and wrist. The nose of the football based on the action of the wrist can be facing down like on the right above or straight back like on the left.
It is important that the ball is not facing to the side or up. These are both key indicators that the ball was not loaded correctly and the shoulder position will probably be compromised because of it.
The reason the load is so important is that it ensures the right muscles will but utilized in the throw. Additionally, it helps the quarterback build momentum through the arm to help throw the ball. The idea is to put a stretch on the shoulder that allows the quarterback to generate a lot of speed in the arm during the throw.
Getting your load down helps you generate the power in your throw and also will help create more consistency in the motion which will lead to more accuracy over time.
Step 2: Get Your Feet At Least Shoulder Width Apart
Having a great base when throwing the football is really important when it comes to throwing distance and velocity. Depending on how far away the target is or whether they are to the left or right determines where you want to put the front foot.
Many coaches tell quarterbacks they must point the front toe at the throwing target when throwing and there has been no evidence to prove that must happen. However, having a base wider than the hips is very important in order to have a powerful throwing motion.
It is important when setting up or when in the pocket to be light on your feet. Ready to take a step forward and throw the ball at any time. When practicing and warming up it is important not to create bad habits with the feet that will show themselves in the game.
You’ll also want to make sure to keep your knees slightly bent so that the weight is distributed on the balls of your feet and you are ready to move at any time and in any direction. Your upper body and lower body work together to maximize your accuracy and power so that you can throw farther and hit your intended receiver every time.
Step 3: Solid Front Step With Back Foot Push Off
This is probably the most important part of the throw that does not have to do with the arm. So be sure to read everything here and make sure you understand everything.
The step is something where you want to be gaining momentum into the throw but you want to keep as much weight on the back foot as possible during the initial step. This means that taking the step does not allow all of your body weight to transition forward right away.
Instead, keep your weight on the back foot by pushing down into the ground and simultaneously pivoting the back foot. This will keep the throwing motion smooth but will also give you plenty of power to throw the ball.
A common mistake I see when working with quarterbacks is they will immediately shift all their weight forward when taking the initial step. This takes all of the power away from the hips and legs. See above how Josh Allen keeps his weight on the back foot by really keeping the head over the back knee. This is why he has one of the strongest arms in all of football.
Step 4: Elbow Forward, Wrist Rotating
The next part goes into having an effective throwing release as a quarterback. Many times I see quarterbacks who waste so much time and power by allowing the football to get way behind their heads instead of keeping their release quick and compact.
At this point in the throw, the quarterback should have already pushed off the back leg or is about the push off the back leg. The arm has already loaded and the process of bringing the arm forward is about to begin.
The most important part of this step is the position of the wrist. The main goal here is to get the wrist around and the ball facing forward as quickly as possible. you can see in the picture above that I have great control of the ball with all my fingers on it and the shoulders even with my head.
From here, I just need to release the ball flick down with the wrist, and let the football spin out of my hand. All quarterbacks who can throw the ball far are able to get the arm into this position or something close to it before they release the ball.
Step 5: Extend The Elbow
Another common mistake I see quarterbacks make is limiting the extension of the arm after the ball is released. This is a simple step to understand and correct in my opinion but the difference in the throw can be tremendous.
Make sure when you release the ball the elbow fully extends as the thumb of the throwing arm is coming down towards the opposite hip pocket. Try not to limit the motion of the arm here as it is important to have a complete follow-through after the ball leaves the hand.
Step 6: Internally Rotate The Shoulder And Flick The Wrist
This is the final step of throwing the football even though it is happening kind of simultaneously with the elbow extension. You can see above that this is happening during the release of the ball and continuing through the follow-through.
What is important here is being able to generate a lot of power out of the wrist and shoulder as the ball is leaving your hands. It may be difficult to see in the pictures but my wrist is flicking downwards on the ball while I am rapidly internally rotating my shoulder so my thumb is facing down.
When trying to find pictures of this online it made me realize during this release make sure to keep the chest up. This is different than a pitcher in baseball who has their down after the release. When throwing a football be sure to keep the spine position upwards keeping the chest level with the intended target.
How To Throw a Football Farther
Once you’ve figured out your throwing motion and arm motion, it’s time to work on arm strength and follow through.
Here are some tips on how to increase your arm strength:
- Do some weightlifting exercises specifically for your arms, shoulders, and grip strength.
- Work to improve the range of motion in the shoulder, spine, and wrist
- Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of protein in order to build muscle.
- Get plenty of rest so your muscles can recover and grow stronger.
And here are some tips on how to improve your follow-through:
- Extend your arm fully in the direction you want the ball to go.
- Snap your wrist as you release the ball.
- Follow through by continuing to point your fingers in the direction the ball is going.
- Don’t let your elbow drop down as you throw; keep it up at shoulder height.
Once you have increased arm strength and learned how to properly follow through, you will be able to throw a football farther than ever before! Just remember to practice regularly in order to get the best results.
Perfect Your Passing Game at Performance Lab of California
I hope this information was useful to you and you understood the mechanics to throw a football and achieve a perfect spiral. It takes a while before you can master any skill, you just need to keep consistent with your practice in order to get the best results.
Individual Throw Breakdown
If you are looking to get more coaching to help you improve your throw you can sign up for what is in my opinion the best deal we offer which is our throw breakdown.
Here you will get 4 weeks of unlimited breakdowns which means you send in the video of yourself throwing to me throwing a few passes and I will analyze it with a voice-over and send it back to you with drills and exercises to help improve your mechanics.
Additionally, you get a customized workout plan to help improve your overall strength to help you improve as a quarterback.
Throw 60 Online Program
Lastly, we have our 3-month Throw 60 program which is designed for quarterbacks who are looking to be able to increase throwing distance. This program includes breakdowns, workouts, exercises, and drills designed specifically to help you throw the ball further or create more velocity.
This program has helped quarterbacks all over the world see incredible improvement in as little as 14 days!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is throwing a football good exercise?
Yes, throwing a football is a great way to get some exercise. It works your arms, shoulders, and legs all at the same time. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! So get out there and throw the ball around with your friends or family today.
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