Quarterback development begins with proper warm up, drill work, and having the tools to help increase accuracy footwork and velocity. The art of throwing the football. Below are drills to develop and improve a quarterback.
Proper Pocket Posture
- Quarterback holds the ball close to chest offset to the side of throwing arm.
- Top of the ball should not be any higher than the shoulder, preventing exposure to defenders’ chop from behind. If the ball is chopped, the ball can easily be secured due to it being close to the body.
- Both elbows down, relaxed, and the nose of the ball facing down.
- When the quarterback is dropping back, moving in the pocket, or in drills, they should try not to swing or bounce the ball too much.
Throwing Motion (upper body)
- The quarterback’s front shoulder is aimed toward the target, with the ball in proper position. When the quarterback begins throwing, the ball should go high and away. The quarterback should take him arm to 90 degrees with the nose that was facing down, now facing away from target.
- The front arm should remain in the same position, ready to aid in the delivery of the football, pulling into the ribs for velocity.
- The arm in 90 degrees will then move forward, bringing it to a 12 to 6 throwing motion, releasing the ball at highest point.
- The throwing motion should finish with the quarterback’s throwing shoulder facing the target.
Throwing Motion (lower body)
- The quarterback’s base should be a little wider than shoulder width.
- The quarterback should be on the balls of his feet. As he passes the ball, he should drive from his back foot, rotating his back hip to target. His legs should push up through his base, bringing his hips to face target and his feet parallel to each other.
The Warm Up
The quarterback stands with his toes to the line, facing his warm-up partner. He leaves his feet planted and rotates his upper body to aim his non-throwing shoulder at the target, then delivers the ball, finishing with his throwing shoulder at target. 10+ reps
For right-handed quarterbacks, rotate the body until left shoulder is at the target. Ensure his feet remain planted, then deliver the football, finishing with his throwing shoulder to the target (back to facing left position). For left-handed quarterbacks, this is a more natural position with his right shoulder already to the target, so the quarterback should take the ball up and away to 90 degrees, delivering the football and finishing with his left shoulder to target. 10+ reps
For right-handed quarterbacks, this is a more natural position with his left shoulder already to the target. He should take the ball up and away to 90 degrees, delivering football and finishing with his right shoulder to the target. A left-handed quarterback will rotate his body until his right shoulder is to the target with his feet remaining planted. He will then deliver the football and finish with his left shoulder to the target. 10+ reps
YO YO Drill
The quarterback and a partner are 10 yards apart. The quarterback jogs with the ball toward his partner as the partner jogs backward. The quarterback continues to jog forward. Before the quarterback delivers the football, he quickly chops his feet, aims his shoulder and repeats same throwing motion as his feet continue to move through throw. Now his partner has ball and they flip roles. 10 throws each
Throwing partners are 10 yards apart, directly in front of one another. The quarterback’s lead foot should be about one inch from the yard line. The quarterback is in base position for throwing, moving on the balls of his feet. When delivering the football, there should only be about a six-inch step and the passer should finish with both feet on the line. 10 reps
Then, partners still across from each other with a slow drop, the quarterback gets into base and delivers the football. 10 reps
Hash to Hash
The quarterback is now working on throwing at an angle. He starts facing downfield in base to get his feet and shoulders around to the target and deliver the ball with same throwing motion. 10 reps
Flip sides and throw at the other angle. 10 reps
Whenever the quarterback’s target is to his back side, the quarterback’s eyes should get his target first, then his body comes after.
Highlighted below are just a few drills we use, but we have plenty of others to work different aspects of the game. To check for accuracy, we use a line drill for instant feedback. To aid our quarterbacks in dropping with lateral movement and hitching up in the pocket, we use the “I” Drill. To build on lateral movement and pocket work, we use the Square drill.
The quarterback starts by straddling the yard line while either holding ball or using a shotgun snap. When the quarterback sets to throw, both of his feet should be on the line with the target about 10 to 15 yards away. Then, the quarterback delivers the ball with a proper throwing motion. When checking to see if the quarterback is accurately stepping to the target to increase accuracy, his lead foot should remain on the yard line. If it is not, you can give instant feedback on where he should be stepping. You can also add a three- and five-step drop, and the quarterback should remain on the line. Do as many reps as needed to improve his footwork and accuracy.
Figure 8 Drill
This drill is for developing quick feet with vertical and lateral movement, and a quick set up, to deliver the football.
Set up 6 cones.
The quarterback starts in the middle. Coach directs the quarterback forward, left, right or back. When the quarterback moves, he uses quick feet and moves in a figure-8 motion around two cones.
While the quarterback is working through the drill, Coach can ask for ball at any time. This helps to develop quick set up and delivery.
Set up 2 cones about 3 yards apart in an “I” pattern.
The quarterback will set up on the left side of lead cone and do a three-step drop to get into his base with active feet.
Coach will direct the quarterback up, and the quarterback will slide step past the cone, hitch up to the lead cone and get back in base.
RELATED ARTICLE: 21 Tips To Weaponize Quarterback Cadence
Then, Coach will direct the quarterback back. The quarterback will slide step back to starting spot and drop. Coach will repeat the commands.
As the player repeats through this drill, Coach can ask for the ball at any time. You can also start on the right side of cone to flip drill and work in opposite direction.
Set up 4 cones in a square with about 3 yards between each cone.
The quarterback will start in the top left corner of the square. He will do a three-step drop, slide three steps, hitch up three hitches, and slide back three steps.
This is the opposite for lefties, the quarterback will start on top right side of square to work in opposite direction.
Coach can have the quarterback get in base at each corner of the square. Again, Coach can ask for the ball at any time.
If you would like videos of these drills or other drills we use, please don’t hesitate to email Jermaine at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time.
Jermaine Alfred began his career as a three-year starter at Baytown Lee (Texas) High School, where he played until 1995. Alfred attended Baylor University from 1995 until 2000. During that time, he was a started for two of the four years he played for the Bears. Alfred’s professional career began in 2001. During the next few years he would go on to rack up over 15,000 passing yards for several teams, including the Augusta Stallions, Orlando Predators, Tennessee Vally Vipors, Dallas Desperados, Macon Knights, New Orleans VooDoo and Katy Ruff Riders. Alfred began his coaching career in 2006. From then until 2010, he spent two years as the quarterbacks coach at Baytown Lee, with the remainder of the time spent as the head coach of the seventh graders at Highlands Junior High. Shortly thereafter, Alfred founded the Texas Quarterback Club. Since 2016, he has held the position of Offensive Coordinator at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas.