Throwing Simplified: The Three Pillars of Mechanics to Enhance Development

Throwing a football effectively and efficiently is a very difficult thing to do.  Doing it well requires a fairly in depth understanding of sequencing and the many parts that make the whole.  However, there are some key components that, once understood, can unlock the keys to rapid development.  So in an effort to simplify a highly complex skill with multiple moving parts, we will reduce it down to 3 major pillars: balance, rotation, and extension.  Those that are playing at the highest levels on Saturdays and Sundays all understand these concepts on a deep level.  And with that understanding they have unlocked the freedom to make plays that wow us each week!    

Once a QB understands these 3 pillars, they put themselves in a tremendous position to increase their potential to play in a dynamic way.  



It begins in the lower half.  QBs need to identify where their center is as it pertains to their feet.  QBs must be able to keep their center of mass between their feet at all times.  Inevitably this will be challenged by drops, pocket movements, hitches, or evasive action needed to keep a play alive.  When those things happen, it then becomes a QBs ability to “regain” their center of balance regardless of those movements.  

This also applies to situations when a QB is on-the-run or moving laterally.  As long as you understand how to stay centered, you can function with efficient mechanics.  Without true balance and a solidified center of mass, quarterbacks will have a dramatically weaker rotational output.  You can’t maximize rotational power until you achieve balance. 


As you work your way up the chain from the lower half up to the core, or trunk, we begin to focus on rotational force.  This is the power source of the throw.  It is often misconstrued that someone who throws well has a “strong arm” or “arm talent”.  This is actually not the case.  Those that can throw the ball well, have a deep understanding of how to drive the throw with rotational power.  Beginning with balance and moving to rotation, the 90 degree turn that the upper body (hips to shoulders) will make on the throw, is most crucial.   

The pole: a concept that I picked up from a friend of mine, Sean McEvoy who trains QBs in ATL with Quincy Avery.  Imagine that you have a pole going through your body, entering the top of your head, connecting to your spine, and coming out into the ground right between your feet.  As we rotate, we must “stay on that pole”.  Any pulling, leaning, or tilting would be “coming off of the pole” and ultimately lessening the rotational output and efficiency.  So truly understanding that your throw is powered by rotation, not the arm, is paramount.  And to build on the previous point, you can’t maximize your rotation, unless you have a balanced lower half which maintains your center of mass between your feet. 


Extension is an important word.  It is used to describe the path or better described as the way in which the arm “unfolds” through the throwing motion.  QBs want to throw the ball out towards the target in front of them.  If you are trying to throw “over the top” that often leads to the elbow to get too high which sends the hand/ball too high and creates a pulling down action on the throw.  This leads to greater inconsistencies and inaccuracies.    

So the goal of the throwing arm is to extend out towards the target.  This begins by driving the elbow towards the target, then “chasing the football” (a visual cue that I learned from Will Hewlett – QB Collective) with the hand as you continue that full arm extension outward.  Once the ball is released the arm should essentially “fall” down and across the body, naturally as it decelerates .  The focus must be on extending out rather than pulling down.  


When there is balance between the feet, rotational power will have the opportunity to be at its maximum.  As the trunk (center of mass from hips to shoulders) makes the fast and efficient 90 degree turn, we are transferring energy up the chain.  Keeping the throwing arm loose as it moves along the path allows that energy to more easily transfer through and exit out of the ball creating velocity on the throw.  The main idea is that when we stack these 3 pillars of balance, rotation, and extension we put ourselves in the best position to be successful.  

Again, throwing a football is a highly complex movement and much depends on the sequence and timing of all the various phases that are compiled to complete the throw.  So if QBs can understand balance, rotation, and extension they can utilize those pillars to operate in any possible environment or movement pattern.  Without short changing the complexity of the movement, we can focus on the 3 major pillars of balance, rotation, and extension in order to simplify it and increase potential.  

Keep spinning it! 

  • Coach Gov

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