How To Throw A Football
The number one most searched question on Google about playing quarterback is “how do you throw a football?”
The answer is, you don’t.
You don’t want to throw footballs, you want to throw touchdowns.
Let’s let that sink in for a second.
Maybe you just had your whole perspective on playing quarterback shift.
I hope you did. That’s my job.
Now, if we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk about the first step to throwing touchdowns: how to throw a football:)
First, let me introduce myself in case this is your first visit. I’m Coach Mac. I founded Authority Football to guide QBs, and parents and coaches of QBs on their quarterback journey. And I’m glad you’re here.
Throwing a football is scientifically proven to be the most complex mechanic in any sport.
That’s pretty wild to think about.
So how do we help players of all ages and abilities and experience master the football throwing mechanics that are more complex than sports like golf?
We need to simplify it.
We break it down to the simplest, most important parts, and we teach that.
All quarterback play can be categorized into The QB Quadrant ™ :
- Upper Body – Hands, Arm, Torso
- Lower Body – Feet, Legs, Hips
- Brain – Reads, Recognition, Readiness
- Being – Confidence, Competition, Leadership
Mastery of these takes a lifetime.
Growth in these takes an hour.
Ready to get started?
In this article, we’re only going to focus on the main question, “how to throw a football?” so we’re going to address the most important parts of the upper body and lower body to answer the next three most-asked questions about how to throw a football:
- How to throw a spiral
- How to throw farther
- How to throw with proper throwing mechanics
How to Throw a Spiral
I’m definitely going to teach you how to throw a crisp spiral. But let’s first understand why it matters, and when it doesn’t.
Without getting into a bunch of boring science, I want you to understand that throwing a spiral increases your ability to throw more touchdowns.
The reason is that the spiral is what allows you to throw farther, more accurately, more consistently, and is easier to catch.
The unique shape of the football requires that we throw it in a spiral so it flies true.
Think about the old musket rifles from the 1700s and 1800s. They shot musket balls. We don’t use those anymore. Why not?
The answer is that they weren’t accurate.
The round spherical shape of the musket ball allowed the air resistance to make the shot move, curve, and slide unpredictably in the air. And, they were slow.
So we invented bullets.
Bullets are cone-shaped and pointed.
And guess what?
The inside of a rifle barrel has spiraled grooves to make the bullet leave the barrel spiraling. Just like a football.
The longest sniper shot recorded is over 2 miles. TWO miles. That’s an unbelievably accurate shot.
So imagine if a modern rifle fired a bullet that tumbled, or wobbled, or fluttered in the air. Hard to be accurate. Hard to be effective.
So how do you create the same effect of that ball spiraling perfectly off your hand and into the hands of your receiver?
Simple: Grip and Release.
How To Grip a Football To Throw Spirals
- Put your index finger on the seam
- Put your pinky finger against, not over, the laces
- Open your thumb down the ball to create a palm pocket
- Cock your wrist back all the way
This keeps the nose up to maintain “lift” – just like an airplane wing.
How To Release The Football So It Spirals.
The release is one of the most important parts of the throwing mechanic because if you do everything right before that, but don’t release properly, you’ll mess up the ball flight.
So the first thing to know is that you need the release to be identical every time.
The second part is making sure you release it the right way every time.
The most common problem and misunderstanding about throwing the football if you haven’t been training is that you create the spiral by spinning your hand under the ball like you might spin a skateboard wheel with your palm upward.
The opposite is true.
We want to spin the side of the ball and fire your palm down then out so your palm ends facing outward.
If that’s new information for you, then it will feel weird. To illustrate the movement, hold your throwing arm straight out, palm down. Then turn your thumb down and palm out.
How to practice throwing spirals
Do the following drills to practice and perfect your spiral.
Lying Sky Drill
You can get the entire Authority Football QB Mechanic Assembly Progression in our mobile training app.
Alright, you are now fully equipped to throw tight, crisp spirals so you can throw more touchdowns. So just put the work in and make it second nature.
If you’re having consistent problems, just contact us and we can tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.
How to Throw Farther
The number one thing young quarterbacks want to do better is throw the football farther. It’s the top thing they tell me, every time.
So how do you throw it farther, harder, with more speed?
This is really really simple, so listen up.
- The distance of the football comes from its velocity.
- Its velocity comes from the power generated by you, the quarterback.
- And power is a combination of strength and speed of movement.
So the answer to how to throw farther is to get stronger. That’s it.
Now, I want to tell you why you shouldn’t worry about throwing the ball farther.
Almost every throw I’ve seen a QB make that wasn’t far enough was a problem with when the quarterback threw it, not how far he could throw it.
Imagine a vertical route. Every second that passes, the receiver gets farther. The farther he gets the longer the ball has to be in the air to get to him. The longer the ball is in the air, the more time the receiver has to continue to run, thus getting even farther from the quarterback.
It’s a math equation that eventually goes against the quarterback in a bad way.
So when you underthrow a receiver, you could have thrown the exact same ball sooner and hit him in stride.
Distance is relative to timing.
So don’t worry about throwing the football farther, just throw it sooner.
The other big mistake I see quarterbacks make is wanting to throw harder without harnessing the power they already have.
Think about a car driving in a low gear like 2nd gear. It will top out around 20 mph. The engine has way more power, but you aren’t accessing it until you shift gears and let them express the power into the wheels.
Or think of a skateboard with really old, rusty bearings. You can push hard, but the bad bearings will keep the skateboard going slow, way slower than the same skateboarder would go with the same effort and smoother bearings.
So the other answer to how do you throw harder is that you don’t – you just throw better and actually use more of the power you already have.
So if you want to harness more of the power you already have, you need to do two things:
- Generate more power in your lower body – legs, and hips
- Transfer that power into the ball with proper throwing mechanics.
Here’s how you use your legs to create more power to throw the football farther:
- Load your power leg by bending your knee and sitting your hips down
- Drive your body toward the throw by pushing hard on your power leg
- Point your front foot at your target
- Then unleash your throw
- Finish with your feet parallel
When you throw, think “Push. Point. Throw”. Generate force. Direct the force. Transfer the force.
Most untrained QBs simply “Throw and Step”, but you’ll be significantly more powerful when you push, point, throw.
Now that you know how to generate more power to throw the football farther, and you know how to grip and release the ball so it spirals, it’s time to connect the two parts of the throw by talking about the proper throwing mechanics.
How to Throw Accurately – Proper Football Throwing Mechanics
Accuracy is one of the most important elements of passing the football as a quarterback. You need to have confidence the ball will go where you want it to go.
But here’s a really really important fact:
The ball doesn’t go where you want it. The ball goes where you throw it.
That means your mechanics literally tell the football where to go, and it goes there, whether “there” is what you wanted or not 🙂
So the key to accuracy is arm mechanics. It’s also a key to maximizing power to throw the ball farther.
While this movement is the most complex movement in sports, we are going to simplify it down to a few key arm positions, and if you nail these, your throws will be more accurate and more powerful.
- First, hold the ball with shoulders relaxed and elbows pointed down.
- Secondly, push the ball up and back so your elbow is at 90 degrees.
- Third, rotate your elbow up and over, not around your shoulder.
- Fourth, extend your arm all the way toward the target before releasing.
- Fifth, follow through with your arm down toward the ground, not sideways.
This throwing mechanic arm path makes the ball travel straight on the path you want it to. It also utilizes the power you’re generating in your lower body.
A really great way to assess your own mechanics is to check your arm positions at each step compared to a quarterback throwing with proper mechanics.
These are the ideal arm positions to throw the ball accurately and powerfully. Doing them every time allows you to throw the ball consistently.
Now, like 5 dots in a connect-the-dots picture, you just need to smoothly and fluidly connect these dots in your throwing motion.
Teaching the most complex mechanic in sports in a little blog post is a tall order. So there’s definitely a lot more nuance and progression to mastering throwing a football and playing quarterback. But you now have the key foundational knowledge to throw spirals, throw farther, and throw accurately.
I hope this article helps you greatly on your quarterback journey. Whether it’s your own journey as a player, your journey as a parent helping guide your player, or as a coach expanding his skills to better guide your players.
I want to be here for you along your path, so these are your next steps with Authority Football:
- Download our free report: Throw Touchdowns, Not Footballs
- Join our monthly Quarterback Club. Your first month is totally free to try.
- Get on the field and train with us if you’re local or ready to make a trip.
Thanks for reading. Keep working, keep scoring, and keep leading.
– Coach Mac