How to frame your quarterback for success

By Bill Hewitt | Posted 2/9/2018

It's been conventional wisdom for years that coaches can't change a quarterback’s mechanics. A player has “it” to be a quarterback or not. Why waste your time on this player? It will never happen, they say. 

I disagree, and I believe you can frame-build a quarterback, as long as that player is willing to work hard. With a coach’s guidance, you can make many changes, especially with proper training and patience. But the candidate must have the drive to listen and learn. 

Quarterbacks must have quick feet, good size and core arm strength to continue the building process. Here are a few qualities to look for in a quarterback.
• Fluid body motions.

• The candidate should be 6 feet to 6 feet, 7 inches tall

• The player must be able to throw any out pattern from the far hash mark with little trouble. 
• The QB shows command and leadership qualities. 

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What is framing?

I like to think about building a house. You need a good, solid foundation. I find this is very important. Each and every small segment of technique is a quarterback-building process. A total build takes time.

Developing a prescription for each and every quarterback that works is a challenge. Then, the teaching process begins with patience and a timed schedule.

The new framing method is a combination of teaching styles command and the whole part method.

This is where the entire plan is explained and laid out for the quarterback. Then the plan is broken down into smaller segments for better understanding. Use self-correction and shadowing in each segment of the learning process. 

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The first segment is how the feet and body positioning are important. Provide an explanation of how the core, hips and oblique muscles work for quarterbacks, in all aspects of development of these muscles.

How do we make a stronger, faster quarterback?
Every quarterback needs proper shoulders, arms, elbows and wrist angles to be competitive. A basic high release points to proper pronation is a must.

Teaching body mechanics
Ball Carriage: Third hand on the snap of the football is a plus. Keep two hands on the ball sliding back and forth across the chest level on all separations from the center. Many coaches call this the punch or drive step from center.

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Angles are also critical throughout the passing process. The drop angle of the ball should be at 45 degrees. The football will be on the rise to a pre-throwing position. The other position is vertical nose of ball up and down. Both are correct. The quarterbacks should choose whatever feels comfortable. Be relaxed and carry a smooth carriage motion throughout the drop motion.

During the pre-snap read, the quarterback’s shoulders should be square to line of scrimmage, keeping their eyes downfield all the times. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart, with toes slightly pigeon-toed. This makes a smoother spin motion and lessens the chance the quarterback will not trip on a lineman’s foot. Good separation or drive step. Practice good, smooth crossovers to gather your step.

Throwing elbow and arm: Point the throwing elbow at the receiver, followed by arm and wrist action. Pronation is thumb down to opposite thigh, not outside the body. Many choose to teach outside the body, and as a result, arm and elbow problems are more likely in the quarterback’s future. 

Sometimes you find that championship quality in a quarterback. Does teaching the command style not always work? Remember these five areas to focus on mechanically: 
1) Feet positioning
2) Core position 
3) Arm, elbow 
4) Wrist 
5) Thumb down pronation. 

Be a teacher for success. Good luck!

Bill Hewitt is a former college football coach, NFL scout and film grader for the Buffalo Bills. He also is a retired physical education teacher. Follow him on Twitter @HewittCoach.