Key Techniques for Improving QB Throwing Mechanics

I realize there are many trains of thought on the throwing mechanics of the QB position, but this post is an overview of some of the key techniques of focus we teach at Gridiron Techniques.

I want to start off by saying nothing that I am going to present here is revolutionary, and all the mechanic ideas and drills are things that I have been fortunate to learn from college and pro QB coaches that I have had the opportunity to visit with or study.  Not all the QBs we have trained are perfect, however, my training is designed such that they aspire to perfect these points of emphasis in every drill we do. I think that these points provide our QBs the best opportunity to produce and replicate a consistent release, which in turn gives him a chance to be an accurate passer. I just hope that there are a couple of ideas here that you might be able to use to improve as a QB.

Key Technique #1 = Carriage – Good Ball Control & Posture – Quiet Upper Body & Athletic Lower Body

The proper carriage sets the foundation for your throwing motion. A correct and consistent carriage will provide you the initial environment needed to produce a repeatable arm circle. Right-handed QBs should carriage the ball comfortably on their right peck with elbows relaxed and pointed toward the ground. You do not want the ball too close to the body, nor extended too far from the chest. A ball held too close to the chest will impede the initiation of the throwing motion (i.e. Point #2 Short Circle). Holding the ball too far away from the chest will cause balance issues and tend to draw your upper body toward your toes. Upper body posture is very important to the carriage, throughout the drop back and any step-ups or resets; I would like to see consistent carriage and upper body posture. I feel this provides a consistent platform to trigger the throwing motion. Below the waist, I like to see an athletic knee bend and active feet. I really like the analogy I heard once of a duck gliding across the pond. Looking at his torso you would never guess how hard his legs were working to keep him moving forward. That is what I am looking for.

 Coaching points: Quiet upper body and athletic lower body, separate the footwork from your upper body carriage and ball at peck.

Key Technique #2: Short stride off target line – Get hip clear to target

Continuing from the carriage to the initiation of the throwing motion, you must work from the ground up. One of the only things I look for from the lower body is that the stride length is not too long and that it falls just outside of the target line. The short stride keeps you upright and over the top in your delivery. Most long-stride QBs seem to have a problem keeping their elbow above their shoulder and never seem to have the nice high release I am looking for (i.e. Point #7: High Release). If you are an over strider, try shortening your stride by ½ of the length of your foot to start, and see if that raises your release point.

Point two concerning the stride deals with landing the stride just outside of the target line. Darin Slack refers to this as stepping in one side of the 18-inch hallway (distance from shoulder to shoulder of the receiver) This allows the QB to clear his hips and point them at the target and keeps the front hip from blocking the torso. This blocking of the torso inevitably causes the arm to slide away from the shoulder and body. You will see a lot baseball players have a tough time with this, because they are used to throwing against a stiff front leg and dropping into a sidearm delivery. That is productive if you are trying to throw a cut fast ball that runs in on a right-handed hitter, but with the oblong shape of a football this causes a ton of accuracy issues. To keep the flight of the football on a consistent line a more over hand release is preferred.

Coaching points: Step just off your line and give your hips room to clear.

Key Technique #3: Short circle – push the ball up and back

Once the QB has begun the correct stride and has his hips opening to the target, now we must trigger the arm circle. Here, I am looking for a compact short circle from the carriage to a loaded position. I do not want to see the ball drop below the chest; ideally the QB should push the ball up and back away from the peck. This will shorten the arm action and quicken the release time. Once the front hand breaks from the ball, it is now a race to the receiver between the ball and the defender. Here we can use the non-throwing hand to help initiate the arm circle and push the ball up and back as we break the carriage.

Coaching point: "Up and back" not "down and around."

Key Technique #4: J Path - Point the nose of the ball up and away from the target

Once we push the ball up and back now we must begin the "J" path. Here, the nose of the ball should make a small "J" path as he turns the front point of the ball away from the target and exposes the belly of the ball to the sky. This is like a pitcher being taught the goalpost position in baseball.

Coaching point: Get the nose of the ball pointing up and away from target.

Key Technique #5: "Get the ball to Zero" -Darin Slack – Drop the ball behind shoulder and pull elbow to ear

With the elbow above the shoulder, I would like to see the ball dropped behind the throwing shoulder and the throwing elbow should begin to migrate toward the ear hole of the helmet. Here, the QB should feel very little strain on his elbow and all arm muscles should be very relaxed and loose. Some of this goes back to the overall flexibility of your QB, but I like to see a nice fluid arm action, not a muscled and tense delivery.

Coaching point: Drop the ball to Zero.


Although, there are many trains of thought on the throwing mechanics of the QB position, perfecting these key points will help you improve your release and accuracy.

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