It takes a lot of hard work and practice for a quarterback to be an incredibly accurate passer.
It takes even more hard work and practice for a quarterback to develop the skills necessary to not only throw with accuracy, but do so with enough power that their pass attempts can be complete in a game.
There are 3 levels for teaching quarterbacks these skills:
(1) Teach them how to make strong and accurate throws from a standing position.
(2) Teach them how to do so after taking standard drops after receiving a snap either under center or out of the shotgun.
(3) Teach them how to do so under pressure from defenders.
The best thing that coaches can do when they’re teaching quarterbacks how to throw is to do so in stages.
Start with the most basic quarterback drills and then progress to the next "step" once the player has mastered those drills. This will help the quarterback stack skills on top of each other once he masters the basics.
If you try to rush the process, it’ll be very hard for a quarterback to master the skills they need to consistently throw with accuracy and power.
Here are 5 quarterback drills that you should teach all quarterbacks so they can become great throwers:
5 Quarterback Drills
1. Knee Drills
This first-step drill will help quarterbacks work on their throwing accuracy.
Both versions of the drill will force the players to focus on throwing with their arm and hips only and not their footwork.
You'll need two players to do this drill, and it can be two quarterbacks so you can maximize the number of players working at the same time.
The two players should align themselves about 10 yards apart, and both should begin the drill by kneeling on both knees.
Since they're on their knees, they’ll only be able to throw with their arm and with slight hip movements.
They won't be able to use their legs to generate any power behind the throw.
The drill starts with one of the quarterbacks with the ball in his hand, while the other person in the drill will serve as the receiver.
The receiver will first hold up his hands and give the thrower a target.
The player with the ball must throw the ball to the receiver, attempting to land the ball at the exact point where his hands are located.
The two players should continue to do this back and forth for a set period of time.
Once they've worked on this for a bit, you should then progress to the next step, which is to have the quarterbacks kneel on just one knee.
The knee that they should put on the ground is the same as their throwing arm.
This version of the drill will help the quarterbacks build up their arm strength more.
The drill should work the same way, in that the receiver should hold their hands up and give the thrower a target.
The thrower should focus on keeping the rest of their body as still as possible when making the throw.
2. Scan the Field
This quarterback drill will help them work on their accuracy a little bit more.
It’ll take this skill to the next step by integrating the task of scanning the field before making a throw quickly and accurately.
You'll need a lot of players to set this drill up.
First, start by having the quarterback line up at about the 30-yard line in the middle of the field.
Then, take 10 other players and have them line up at various depths between the quarterback and the goal line, and at different positions from one sideline to the next.
The quarterback will face the receivers, and a coach will stand behind the quarterback so that he can't see him.
To start the drill, the coach will signify the snap, at which point the quarterback will take a standard drop and prepare to throw, scanning the field in the process.
The coach will point to one of the receivers lined up on the field. That receiver will put up his hands to act as the target.
The quarterback's job is to quickly recognize which receiver is his target, and then throw an accurate and powerful throw to him.
This quarterback drill will work on a number of skills:
- It'll help quarterbacks work on scanning the field and recognizing open targets quickly.
- It'll help quarterbacks work on their accuracy since he'll be throwing to receivers at different points on the field.
- It’ll help quarterbacks work on their throwing power since some receivers will be far away from where he lines up.
3. Sprint Out
This drill will help quarterbacks work on throwing accurately and with power while on the run.
This is very important, as there are plenty of times during a game when a quarterback will have to make throws on the move.
He won't have the luxury of throwing from a set position in a safe pocket all the time.
To set up the drill, the quarterback will line up in the middle of the field.
You'll then have a receiver line up about 10 yards downfield, in between the sideline and the outside hash mark.
The hash mark will serve as the "launch point" for the quarterback.
The coach will blow the whistle to start the drill. At the snap, the quarterback will simulate receiving the snap.
He'll then immediately sprint out to his right.
When he reaches the hash mark or the "launch point," he'll need to complete the pass to his receiver. This drill will help a quarterback work on his accuracy and throwing power while on the run.
This will tie into the kneeling drills from earlier, as a lot of the power and accuracy will depend on the quarterback's arm and hips, and not as much on his lower body -- since he won't be able to set and throw.
You should teach this drill by having quarterbacks roll to the side of their throwing arm.
A more advanced version of this drill is easy to do. All you have to do is have the quarterback sprint out to the opposite side of the field -- so having a right-handed quarterback sprint to his left.
This is a tougher throw for a quarterback to make, as he'll have to twist his upper body more to get the proper power behind the throw.
He'll have to focus much more on footwork, hip twist, and arm motion to accurately complete the throw to the opposite side of the field.
4. Escaping Pressure
This drill will help quarterbacks work on the skill of avoiding pressure while keeping their eyes focused downfield so they can find an open receiver.
This is a drill that a quarterback can do on his own to start.
To set up the drill, you'll need to set up two hula hoops about five yards behind the quarterback and about one yard apart from each other.
You'll then want to set up throwing targets at various points on the field for the quarterback to throw to.
The quarterback will start the play at the line of scrimmage in a pre-snap stance.
The coach will blow the whistle to start the drill.
The quarterback will take a five-step drop. He'll need to plant his feet after this drop, count a beat, and then simulate as if he's feeling the pressure of a pass rush.
At this point, he'll need to slide to his left around the hula hoops, then step up in the pocket to fire a throw to one of the throwing targets.
This drill will help quarterbacks work on their lateral footwork while avoiding pressure in the pocket.
It'll help them make adjustments in the pocket to find open space to step up and fire powerful and accurate throws.
The easy variation to this drill is to have the quarterback step around the hula hoops to the other side of the field.
This will help them work on their lateral movement to the other side since he'll have to do this during games.
5. Hitting Routes
Now that the quarterback has worked hard on his arm movement and footwork, it's time to start integrating moving targets.
After all, a quarterback will often be throwing to receivers who will be running routes that’ll keep them moving through the throw.
It's the quarterback's job to be able to not only throw accurately to stationary targets but also ones that are on the move.
For this drill, you'll want to have a center and four to five wide receivers on the field along with the quarterback.
The center will set up with the football, and the quarterback will either set up under center or in shotgun (depending on the formation your offense runs).
The receivers will line up at various points along the line of scrimmage as they would if they were starting a real play.
For this drill, you'll have the receivers run various routes across the field.
You'll want to have them run common and simple routes that your offense runs often. These can be quick slants, in and out routes, and post patterns.
The quarterback will start the drill by calling for the snap.
He'll then need to take his normal drop and find one of the open receivers. His job is to hit the receiver in stride with an accurate and powerful throw.
There are a few ways that you can integrate some variations to this drill.
The first is by having a coach stand behind the quarterback like in the Scan the Field drill.
The coach will signify the receiving target by pointing to him after the ball is snapped.
The receiver will raise his hands to signify he's the target, forcing the quarterback to recognize the "open" receiver and throw it to him in stride.
You can also integrate the hula hoops from above, forcing the quarterback to avoid the "pressure" on a play before stepping up into the pocket and making a strong throw.
You can combine all three of these steps to make for the most advanced version of this quarterback drill.
Throwing with accuracy and power is one of the most important skills a quarterback can learn. And teaching him to do so is a multi-step process.
As a coach, you should start by having a quarterback work on throwing with his upper body and hips.
Then, you can work in some footwork and receiver recognition before integrating quarterback drills to teach him how to avoid pressure.
Finally, you can combine all the teachable skills so quarterbacks can learn how to hit receivers running routes in stride.