Tim Tebow is arguably one of the best college football players to ever play. The special blend of his competitiveness, toughness, and physical prowess made him an unbelievable player. Tim was criticized at times in his career for his beliefs and even more so criticized for his throwing motion. Experts said it was too long. They said that he would need to change his upper body mechanics if he were to get a chance in the NFL. Have you ever asked yourself if his upper body mechanics were the real issue though? From the outside looking in, it seems like he spent countless hours working on his craft in throwing the football. The guy had countless gurus trying to teach him the ideal motion to make it quicker and more compact. What if it was something else? Today, I’m going to talk about how the real issue DOES lie somewhere else and why Tim spent many wasted hours performing the drills he did because they were never going to stick.

You have heard us say this a million times. If the player doesn’t have the foundation to build from, then he will have a limited capacity to actually improve his game. This was the case with Tim Tebow. If you look at his throwing motion, there are some very distinct things that stand out. He has a lateral lean to the left when he throws that takes him off balance, he over strides at times when he’s trying to put a lot of velocity on the ball, and he over extends his spine when he throws. These are actually the SYMPTOMS when it comes to the issue that he actually has though. Let me give you an analogy that might make sense to you. Let’s say a person lights a tree on fire and starts a forrest fire. Yes, the firemen will put out the blaze and make the fire stop, but the person will continue to set other parts of the forrest on fire and the fire will persist. Would we be better off constantly putting out fires or going to catch the person that is actually causing the issue? Let’s look at Tim’s 3 specific issues the are mentioned and them tie them together from an anatomical standpoint.

Throwing Dysfunction #1 (Over striding)

When over striding is mentioned with a quarterback, we always have to think about the causes being from 3 potential areas. These would be a lack of trunk stability, stiffness in the the hip flexors, or a true movement related problem. In tim’s case, we know that he is a very strong guy. He was talked about having the ability to squat 500 pounds. If I had to guess, I would say that trunk stability probably isn’t an issue. Then we get into the argument of if this is a true movement related problem or a mobility issue that is causing a movement issue. I would argue the latter.

You can see that in the picture above that Tim is driving forward to create velocity on his throws, but there are some specific issues here. In the first picture, you can see that Tim is over striding to throw a deep ball. This is SUPER COMMON a player has some stiffness in his hips. The QB will always want to try and use forward momentum to create power instead of the combination of hip extension and hip internal rotation. This is especially present on deep throws.

Notice Drew Lock’s hip in full hip extension, while he’s able to maintain a decent position in his trunk. He could have a little better position in his trunk, but you can see where the hip and foot position are. My point is that Tim will NEVER be able to get into this position until he works on some true hip mobility in the front part of his hip and then practice throwing after that.

Throwing Dysfunction #2 (Lateral Lean)

Lateral Leaning is also very present in quarterbacks that have some restrictions in their hips. Players have to realize that their bodies are extremely smart. Compensations will always come into effect when player’s don’t have the true mobility, stability, and motor control to perform the movement. This is true for any movement. This compensation is also a strategy to try and create power. Since Tim can’t translate the force from his hips to his trunk because of the stiffness in his hips, he has to find it somewhere. This is why he performs this. It’s not an upper body mechanics problem coaches! It’s a hip mobility restriction, that has caused compensation over time, which then causes bad mechanics. There’s a true domino effect here! This is the second piece of evidence that Tim has some mobility restrictions in his hips.

Throwing Dysfunction #3 (Over Extension of Lumbar Spine)

This is the third piece of evidence and actually the most profound. This is the MOST COMMON problem that quarterbacks have, but there has to be some deeper digging to know where the problem is actually coming from. In his case, we stated above that since he is a strong dude, that mobility restriction in his hips is actually causing over extension of his spine during the acceleration phase of throwing. This is SUCH AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT. Look at the picture below of the specific muscle I’m talking about below, the psoas. The psoas complex connects into the lumbar spine. When this muscle is put on stretch, if it’s too tight, then the muscle will pull the quarterback into an over extended position. It doesn’t matter how strong someone is in their abdominal musculature, the stiffness will always win!

So what??

I think that this is an extremely important call to action for quarterbacks out there that are trying to improve their game. Tim Tebow is arguably one of the most hard working guys out there in the sport. He was relentless in his pursuit to get better. What if someone would have picked up these issues? What if he would have fixed his true problems, in turn making him a more efficient thrower? Would he still be in the league? I would argue and say yes! Quit wasting your time quarterbacks! Let us help you. If you don’t find the true problems, then there’s a high likelihood that at some point the hours that you are putting in aren’t making you a better player. They are just making you a better compensator, therefore setting you up to plateau in performance and increase injury risk. We can help! Reach out to us at [email protected] or call/text at 812-343-4226.

-Drew Kiel PT, DPT,CSCS