When thinking about the most common quarterback throwing flaws, over striding during the loading phase of the motion is definitely close to the top. This tends to happen at every level to a certain extent. What causes this though? Why do some players do this and some players don't? This common flaw can mean the difference a lot of times between a completion and an interception. All 3 of us brothers have fallen in the category as an "over strider" at some point in our careers, but were able to fix it through some mindful training and repetition. Today, we look at 4 ways to fix over striding during the throwing motion and also touch on what may be causing you to do this in the first place! You don't want to miss this one!
1. Narrow Pre-Pass Position
Let's take a second to really hone in on the science of why quarterbacks should start with a wide base. When I say wide base, we are referring to the feet starting outside the shoulders before the quarterback throws the ball. An athlete's center of mass within the entire body is located at the S2 spinal segment. If you put your hand on your tailbone, that's right where the center of mass is located. When athletes play with a narrow stance, it is easy for this center of mass to become more and more off balance when you add movement to the throw. Taking a drop, stepping up in the pocket, rolling out, and slide stepping are all examples of movements that quarterbacks have to perform in order to be successful. The problem is that most of the times, quarterbacks lack stability in the hips and trunk. With the lack of stability, this quarterback now becomes someone that has a lot of problems throwing "under load." The load could be the movement that is required or the amount of speed/velocity that this quarterback is trying to produce based on the throw that he's making. The narrow starting position can't match the demand of the game. Check out the picture below to see an example.
You can challenge this by a simple demonstration at home. Stand with your feet underneath your shoulders and have someone push you hard. You probably lost your balance. Now widen your feet outside your shoulders and perform the same thing. I bet you stabilized a great deal! Any time a quarterback loses his balance of where his center of mass is at, he will over stride. This is true when stepping up in the pocket with the weight being out on the front foot and also true when trying to transfer load to the back foot unsuccessfully with the center of mass lagging behind the body. There's a lot to think about isn't there??
2. Inability to Access Glutes
We have beat this dead horse over and over, but y'all need to understand this concept. When transitioning from the loading phase to the acceleration phase of the throwing motion, the quarterback must have adequate range of motion through ranges of hip internal rotation and hip extension on the DRIVE LEG. If he doesn't, then the hip extensors (the glutes) won't be able to perform their job of producing that force forward and then up the kinetic chain to the hand. Over striding happens after this cycle has occurred because now the quarterback that has this issue now feels like he has to drive the whole body forward to produce energy vs just rotating/extending the hip to do so. Our bodies are great compensators aren't they? We have produced numerous videos on how to assess this and also on how to correct! Go to our youtube channel at "The QB Docs" to see if you fall into this category.
3. No Weight Transition On Drive Leg
The throwing motion is a very explosive movement pattern. High velocities under great body control are needed to be a successful quarterback. It takes the perfect blend of mobility, stability, balance, and motor control to perform at the highest of levels. One issue that we see when it comes to the motor control piece of the equation is a lack of quarterbacks transferring weight/loading weight on the drive leg first before they initiate the plant leg forward during the loading phase. You see this A TON when quarterbacks take a drop and throw without a hitch. A lot of times coaches refer to this as a "rhythm throw". The player doesn't want to load on the last step because of instability/weakness, the compensation of driving the body forward presents, and the QB over strides. This is such a classic presentation with guys across all levels. Dwayne Haskins presents with this issue right now. You can see it in his workout at the combine from this past year. With every throw, there has to be a very subtle transfer of weight back, before initiating that first phase of the throwing motion. If not, then there will be a lot of inefficiency. Have you ever wondered why certain quarterbacks are great throwing after a hitch or from a static position, then they are awful when they have to throw in rhythm? This is why!
4. Improper Movement Sequencing
Many times, the first part of the loading phase of the throwing motion isn't talked about like it should be. If you enter well, you will exit well! This is our concept of if you loading the body well during the first phase of the motion, then you will produce force well through the acceleration phase to get to the release point that you need in order to be successful. Some guys just don't have an idea of what that first step should look like when performing it. If you are opening the front foot during the motion, the step should be an EXTREMELY SHORT STEP to NO STEP FORWARD AT ALL. The most important part of the initiation is opening up the hips to where they are in line with the target. Power isn't produced just in the sagittal plane during the throwing motion. The more important concept here is that power is produced through rotation in the hips and in the upper spine. Give yourself a chance here. Open the step to where the first step is slightly to the left (right handed quarterback) to where the target is at, short to no stride, and keep that weight back to ENTER the "throwing tunnel" well!
So what to do?
First off, since there's so many different reasons for over striding, there's going to be different corrective exercises to fix the flaw. Below is a great video of how to fix the problem for someone that has a hard time keeping the weight back while they reach slightly forward and rotate at the same time. We use this one all the time as a great first step to start working through the issue. You will also want to make sure you are very mobile through the hips/spine and very stable through the hips/spine. You can find a lot of these videos on our youtube channel and our Facebook Group called "QB Community." Keep working towards figuring out if you are someone who presents with this issue and then look on how to fix it. Reach out to us if you have questions. You can get in touch by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org or texting/calling at 812-343-4226.
-Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS