Common Mistakes When Throwing the Deep Ball

One of the major questions that we receive a lot of times is “how can I throw a better deep ball?” Well, this is a loaded question considering the amount of mistakes that we see whenever a quarterback tries to throw the ball at high velocities and power outputs. Today, we will go through some of these common mistakes and give a couple tools on how to fix these problems for increased performance! Y’all don’t want to miss this one!

Common Mistake #1- Over Striding

This is a common mistake that we see at every level of quarterback play. From the youth level to the professional ranks, this is a major problem that decreases velocity on throws and decreases accuracy because the throwing motion isn’t efficient. Over striding is a problem where there could be many factors that are causing the problem. Let’s touch on those a bit.

The first factor that could be playing a role is too much forward initiation of the body during the loading phase. When a quarterback shifts his body weight too far forward when opening the plant leg to the target, this will often cause the stride to be too big. A quarterback might be able to get away with this when throwing shorter routes, but this will definitely be a glaring issue when he tries to throw the deep post. This will need to be determined through looking at the motion through slow motion. Since quarterbacks are taught to play from a wide base, the stride should ALWAYS be short. This is especially true when throwing the deep ball.

This will need to be fixed by assessing the range of motion through the hips to evaluate if the quarterback has enough range of motion through hip extension to even be able to use the glutes the right way to produce power. If the range of motion is there, then the quarterback will have to learn how to produce power rotationally through full hip extension under control. An example would be a med ball throw. After that, then the sequencing has to be re-learned because the brain will want to default back to the old motion because that’s what it knows. This is a process, but this is what it takes!

Common Mistake #2- Over Extension of Spine

In relation to throwing the deep ball, this mistake and the mistake mentioned above often go hand in hand. Over striding can often times cause over extension of the spine because the upper body will trail the lower body due to the lack of timing during the throwing motion. If a quarterback lacks range of motion through the hip flexor musculature on the drive leg, this can also cause over extension in the spine because the musculature will pull where it’s attached in the lumbar spine. Both of these causes for over extension will not be fixed through more repetitions. Let me repeat. They will not be fixed by throwing the ball more. Throwing the ball more will actually make them worse because a poor movement pattern is being hardwired through the neuromuscular system.

So how do we fix this issue? Well, the range of motion has to be recaptured first. From a rehabilitation standpoint, there’s many reasons why there could be tone or stiffness found in this part of the hip, but we will give two videos below on how to address tone due to the neurological system and stiffness due to a true muscle tightness. Quarterbacks need to perform these exercises every single day for success!

Common Mistake #3- Too Much Elevation of Front Shoulder

The shoulder has to elevate some when throwing the deep ball. This is just physics, but how much does it need to be elevated? The truth is not very much at all. One big problem that we see is that quarterbacks often times think that elevating the shoulder is actually going to help propel their trunk forward to increase the ability to throw the ball further. This couldn’t be more wrong. Too much elevation of the shoulder will actually put quarterbacks down the vicious cycle of over extending the spine and over striding as well. Often times, these issues will all present together because they all feed into each other through compensatory movement.

This is an easy problem to fix because once the mistakes listed above are fixed, this will often clean itself up. The reason that quarterbacks feel like they have to elevate the shoulder and propel the trunk forward/laterally is because that they are compensating for a lack of ability to produce force in the areas where they are most efficient. (the hips) Below, we have posted a video talking about these problems in further detail.

Everyone wants to throw the deep ball like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, but do you have the proper range of motion, stability, and motor control like them to give yourself a chance to do so? Probably not! More throws aren’t going to help you throw a better deep ball. Careful consideration of what your issue are, where they are coming from, and figuring out how to fix these issues is how you are going to able to drop bombs all over the field. Let me know how I can help in any way! This is a big deal players!

-Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS