Sound technique and textbook fundamentals form the foundation of every good quarterback. Executing a three-step drop, maneuvering your way around the pocket, and delivering accurate passes are all skills that can be trained.
But how does a quarterback improve the intangibles, like developing poise in the pocket? Although it’s not easy to attain, you can positively impact your poise and pocket presence by making simple adjustments to your QB style.
For example, how you hold the football can affect your rhythm when you execute your drop and work through your progressions. According to elite QB coach Anton Clarkson, you need to learn to keep your body relaxed at all times—and it starts with your grip on the football.
Squeezing the football tight produces a ripple effect through the rest of the body. Your upper body tightens up, and your movement patterns are less efficient. (To illustrate, clench your fist and try keeping your arm relaxed. It’s nearly impossible.) By maintaining a relaxed grip on the ball, you allow the rest of your body to remain loose and facilitate a smoother drop.
When dropping back, hold your elbow to the side of your ribcage with your throwing hand at shoulder level, and avoid squeezing the football tight.
About the proper grip on the ball, Clarkson says, “There’s no one set way to position your fingers on the ball. Find a grip that you feel most comfortable with, keeping your pinky finger pressed firmly against the ball. Keep two fingers of daylight between your palm and the football. This will enable you to apply proper torque and spin on the football.”
That is, of course, if you’re able to produce sufficient force with your hands and fingers. If your grip strength is a pinch short, try the Rice Grab exercise, performed by QB Vince Young in the video above. And check back tomorrow for Part 3 of STACK’s “QB Essentials” series.
Anton Clarkson is an elite quarterbacks coach and head instructor for the QB Weekly. His roster of professional clients includes Tampa Bay Bucs signal-caller Josh Freeman and Jake Locker, the eighth overall selection (by the Tennessee Titans) in the 2011 NFL Draft. Learn more about Clarkson and the many services offered by the QB Weekly.