Friday, May 14, 2010

Self-Diagnosing the Throwing Motion

Ninety nine percent of all throwing errors and bad balls can be attributed to one or more of four common but fixable problems. Teaching quarterbacks to understand and recognize which of these four problems they are prone to will help them self-diagnose and correct bad balls faster and easier.

Problem #1: Over Striding
Over striding (stepping out too far) makes it difficult to impossible for a quarterback to throw over his front foot. This causes the release point to be closer to the ear, turning the throw into a “push” that results in high and wide balls. Over-striding also makes it nearly impossible to follow through as the ball will release well before the hand and shoulders can do their work.

The Fix:
1. Practice throwing with feet parallel and 2. throwing with very short or no strides. Both will enable the body to follow over the front foot. This will help release the ball at a higher and more forward point, enable a smoother and better follow through resulting in tighter and more accurate spirals.

Problem #2: Locking/Squaring the Opposite Shoulder
Keeping the opposite shoulder in a locked or square position also causes the release point to be closer to the ear and will significantly impact velocity as the arm is now forced to throw with little to no shoulder and body help.

The Fix:
Practice pushing the ball back with the opposite arm to where the front shoulder points at the target. This creates more natural should action enabling the QB to practice rotating his opposite shoulder back farther to allow a higher and more forward release point. Another effective drill to increase should rotation is to have the opposite hand reach behind on each throw as if to slap a hand directly behind the quarterback. Improving shoulder rotation immediately impacts ball velocity as well as accuracy.

Problem #3: Breath Holding
Breath holding is a surprisingly common yet often overlooked problem. Breath holding causes the chest area and shoulders to tighten, restricting the shoulders from rotating properly. This causes the same problems as locking and squaring the opposite shoulder.

The Fix:
Practice exhaling on each and every throw, including warm-ups, practice and in games.

Problem #4: Follow Through
A proper follow through is more than a pretty hand motion after a throw; it is a natural and smooth deceleration of a successful should rotation and hand pronation (finishing with the index finger and thumb pointing downward – opposite a curve ball throw). It is nearly impossible to throw a spiral without a good follow through as the hand will have to push the ball rather than rifle it towards the target.

The Fix:
Exaggerate good follow through motions on every throw, including warm-ups, practice and in games.