Youth Football: Coaching Quarterbacks 101 Part Four: The Fundamentals
How to Develop a Youth Quarterback
When it comes to on-field performance, there is nothing more important than the fundamentals for the quarterback. Beginning with upper body fundamentals, four key aspects must be addressed: ball placement, shoulder turn, elbow, and follow through. Beginning with ball placement in the hand, the ball needs to be somewhere in the area of right chest plate for right-handed throwers. And not too high or not too low either, as this should be a rhythmic movement. Each individual will have their own differences when it comes to where exactly they place the ball, but it’s important to lay out a map of basic core fundamentals. Shoulder turn is where the lead shoulder meets the mid-point (between your body and the target) to the target during the throw. The elbow should remain parallel to the ground and should not get extended too high or drop too low. And lastly, the follow through. The right index finger for a right-handed quarterback should be put into the left-handed pocket. This is a good way to think of the follow through and help polish it.
The ball placement is going to be around the pec area, where it is comfortable for the quarterback allowing for each individual interest. To work on these upper body fundamentals, a good drill to do is throwing from one knee. This will ensure your quarterbacks stay compact and not widening their release. The quarterback wants to be nice and compact, similar to that of a baseball batter.
Just as equally important as the upper body mechanics are the lower body movements. Beginning with stance, 70% of the weight should be on the back foot. But as a batter in baseball, the quarterback shouldn’t be throwing off of his back foot rather loading up on it. The QB should be able to pick their left foot up (for right handed throwers) and still be balanced. Just as a batter in baseball, the quarterback must receive his power from his back foot to avoid all arm throws. The QB should be able to pick up the front foot and set it back down as seen in this clip.
Knees should be slightly bent and not straight legged, as you are unable to play stiff and tight. As you begin to teach correct footwork, it’s important to note that you should be teaching your quarterbacks to step into the throw with their left foot (or front foot) slightly left of the target. The shoulder will again come to the mid-point of the target, with the lower body and lead foot stepping 4-6 inches left of the target and not way left. Feet should typically be shoulder-width apart and heels should remain flat on the ground.
The follow through should transition to the front foot naturally and not be forced. There shouldn’t be any stoppage in the right hip (or back hip) coming through the throw. It should be a natural movement that isn’t hindered by the quarterback stopping the follow through. The back foot can slide or whatever is comfortable for the quarterback.
Quarterback Coaching 101
By: Matt Kerns