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How to Throw A Football

29 Oct

Not everyone can be a NFL quarterback. You have to have poise and a calmness under pressure to manage a football team, and you have to be a natural leader if you want to be successful. To move the football down the field, you have to be able to launch an air-filled leather ball 40 yards in the air. And, you have to be physically coordinated and quick enough mentally to make split second decisions that determine whether each play will be successful or fail miserably. A career in the National Football League is definitely not in everyone’s future, however anybody can learn to throw a football well. Throwing a football involves a lot of complex mechanics that can be explained simply, so every red-blooded American man should know how to throw one properly. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to do it.

how to throw a football

The Grip

Grab the football, and put the ring finger of your throwing hand on the second lace (the laces are the white strings at the top) of the football. Spread your fingers as much as you can comfortably while gripping the ball, and keep your wrist straight and tensed. Your pointer finger should stretch past the center stitch line on the football. A good grip ensures that you get proper rotation on the football when you release it.

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Throw With Your Feet

Most football coaches will tell you that your feet throw the football, which admittedly is a fairly abstract concept. However, there is some truth to that idea. Whether throwing a football, throwing a baseball, or shooting a basketball, the power for the action comes from the legs. Your feet drive into the ground and start a chain of movements that create velocity for throws when you use proper mechanics. So, spread your feet shoulder length apart and bend your legs at the knees slightly to get a good base for your throws.

Ball And Body Positioning

While keeping a good grip on the football and without changing the position of your dominant hand on the football, bring your off hand onto the opposite side of the ball to secure it, and lift it to neck level while centering it. Make sure that your dominant wrist remains cocked (straightened and slightly tensed) because that helps the ball fire out of your hands more easily. Holding the ball in the pre-pass triangle aligns all your muscles and helps shorten your throwing motion. Point the shoulder opposite your throwing arm towards your target. Pointing that shoulder creates torque which allows for more velocity.

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This position is generally called the wind-up, but you should try to relax the muscles in your shoulder to get a good release instead of tensing those muscles. By putting your arm in L-position, you elongate some of the lesser used chest and shoulder muscles for more effective use on the throw. Doing this also makes your throwing motion more compact and efficient. Rather than a big circular motion to deliver the ball, the football comes up quickly from neck/chest level to just above your ear with the elbow at a 90 degree angle making a L-shape. Some coaches call this position “using the telephone” or making a call”.

The Throw

Rotate your hips open toward your target. Your weight should shift from your back foot onto your front foot as your hips rotate and this motion will also pull your torso around. While your hips are opening up, your elbow should bend to a 45 degree angle. Your triceps muscle will tighten as your torso rotates forward and your elbow should track over your shoulder toward your target. Your throwing hand should follow towards your target in a big looping motion.

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To properly finish your throw, you need to have a good follow through. That means that the joints from your shoulder to your elbow through your wrist should be fully extended toward your target when you finish your throw. Power is exerted through straight lines. As you release the ball, drag your thumb downward toward the pocket of your lead leg. That motion forces the football to spin in a spiral and gives you full velocity on your throw.


Throwing a football really comes down to 5 simple, smaller steps: getting a good grip on the football, setting your feet, putting the football into the pre-pass triangle, snapping the ball into L-position, and then flinging the ball forward while fully extending your arm. Each step in this succession is important, however the entire action should feel like one fluid transition. The power for the throw comes from your legs and by snapping your torso around as you deliver the ball. Your lead shoulder directs the football and your follow through provides accuracy for the pass. Follow the aforementioned rules and remember not to be too mechanical, and you will have learned how to throw a football correctly. Practice the throwing smooth motion and it becomes easier. You have all the tools now. Enjoy yourself.

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