"Name That Mystery Coach" Contest

Jim Harbaugh's Quarterback Academy is still taking place on the Stanford campus, and a handful of promising QBs have been showcasing their considerable skills and hopefully have been benefitting from Coach Harbaugh's mentorship. This impromptu contest will require a) that you've been around a while, and b) that you can note subtle nuances in the style and technique found in the selected passages.

The Bootleg's "Name That Mystery Coach" Contest 

The Jim Harbaugh Quarterback Academy is still taking place on the Stanford campus, and a handful of promising signal-callers have been showcasing their considerable skills and hopefully have been benefitting from Coach Harbaugh's mentorship and from advanced instruction from the Stanford staff, we thought it might be fun to share an example of the art of QB tutoring, at least the way it was outlined in years past. 

This impromptu little contest will require a) that you have been around a while, and b) that you have enough Sherlock Holmes in you to note subtle nuances in the style and technique shown in the passages. As you will no doubt notice, this piece was written for young, inexperienced quarterbacks, not four- and five-star studs, but some of the material is nevertheless relevant today. 

Today's Big Question: Who wrote the following excerpt from a classic football guide and, as a tie-breaker, in what year was the guide written/published? 

The Reward: The first correct answer from each "birth decade" (limited to the first five birth decade representatives from which a correct answer is received) will receive a special prize from The Bootleg! All entries of answers and decade of birth (1920s, 1940, 1970s, etc.) should be submitted to jim@thebootleg.com

BootTweet™: Followers of "TheBootleg" on twitter.com are getting a little preferential heads-up on the start of this contest. 

OK, here we go. We sincerely hope the yet-to-be-disclosed original publisher of this material will appreciate that as soon as this contest is concluded, we will be giving full credit and making clear reference to the copyrighted work and that it is our hope that this modest little contest will increase interest in this classic football book. Who knows, we may drive it back into print and onto the Amazon Top 10!



Mystery Coach: How would you like to sit down in my office for an hour or so and talk about forward passing? Believe me, I would enjoy nothing more than spending some time with each boy who is interested enough to look at this book; but, since time prevents us from doing this, let's pretend. Let's pretend that you are asking the questions and I am answering them. 

Beginner: Coach, should I try to be a passer? 

Mystery Coach: Son, do you have height, long arms, big hands, long fingers, good neuromuscular control, a natural "arm," and a lot of poise? 

Beginner: No! 

Mystery Coach: So what? Let's get one thing straight before we go any further. The prerequisites of a passer are greatly exaggerated. One of the great passers in professional football is 5 feet 8 inches tall. Another is 6 feet 5 inches tall. One has outstanding running ability. Another runs like a lady wearing a girdle. If there are prerequisites, I have not discovered them in thirty years of coaching. When you hear people talk of a "natural-born passer", you can be certain that the boy involved has spent hundreds of hours throwing the football, running, dribbling a basketball, playing baseball, playing handball, and practicing, practicing, practicing. This is how the boy developed what appears to be natural ability. 

So my answer to your first question is: Yes, try to be a passer if you are willing to work. But are you sure you know what work is? If you are not, try this. Go outside and throw a football 100 times, and when you have finished, imagine yourself throwing 20 times that many in one day. The most gifted passer I have ever coached admits that he has thrown just about that many passes (2,000) in one day. That is work, and, if it frightens you, forget your aspirations of becoming a great passer. Be careful not to throw too long or too hard until your arm is in shape. If it starts getting sore, lay off until it feels good again. 

Beginner: Why do you say it is valuable to play basketball, baseball, handball, and other sports? 

Mystery Coach: I have never known a good passer who was not an adequate athlete in several other sports. Every time you come out of a game, whether it be basketball or ping ping, you will be a better athlete; you will have more of what people refer to as natural ability. While playing basketball you will develop the sensitivity which you need in your fingers; while playing base you will develop your throwing motion; while playing handball you develop quickness and agility. 

Beginner: Is there anything else you would like to tell me, before I ask you about the art of throwing the ball? 

Mystery Coach: Yes. All of your hard work will be in vain if you do not cultivate a "quarterback's personality". This is the most important point of all, so please listen carefully. The boys who become the outstanding high school and college passers are the boys who wound up as quarterbacks every time they were involved in a game on a sand lot. To get the experience you need, you must serve as the quarterback a good deal of the time. How do you do this? Well, you do not do it by demanding your turn. You do it by making your teammates want you as the passer, and they will not want you unless you have a quarterback's personality. Always be enthusiastic and confidant; never get upset when you make a mistake; never, never criticize one of your teammates because he drops a pass; always give the impression that winning the game is the most important thing in the world to you at that moment; and when you lose, be the one who starts the group thinking about the next game. 

Beginner: Could you explain to me how to throw a pass properly? 

Mystery Coach:  Let's start with first things first - the grip. The great passers grip the ball in many different ways, but there are two things which all of them do. Number one, they grip the ball with the tips of the thumb and and, number two, they keep their fingers well spread. I hesitate to prescribe a certain grip for you, because the proper grip will depend upon the size of your hand. However, I can give you a method of checking your grip to see if it is getting the desired results. Figure 12-2 shows a passer the proper follow through of the arm, hand, and fingers. If you can throw the football with this type of follow-through and still get a spiral, your grip is okay and you are delivering the ball properly. Before going into the "ready" position where the arm is cocked and ready to throw, I must remind you that the basis of good arm position is good feet position. Unless you are standing on balance and stepping directly toward your target, you will find it difficult to achieve good arm position. 

Beginner: Won't the feet be in different positions on different passes? 

Mystery Coach:  Of course, when you throw the jump pass or the running pass, you will not be stepping toward the target, but whenever you throw from a stationary position the movement of the feet is the same. The instant before the ball is thrown, the weight is balanced, and, as the ball is thrown, a step is taken directly toward the target. Check yourself frequently to make sure you are not throwing off balance. Figure 12-1 shows a passer with the ball in the "ready" position. Note that the ball is held high and the passing arm forms a right angle. This angle will vary between passers, and the importance of it is exaggerated. The important fundamental is this: without any preliminary wind-up, the ball is cocked behind the ear and thrown with an overhand motion. The correct follow-through, shown in Figure 12-2 cannot be achieved unless the ball is delivered with an overhand motion. If you will experiment, you will find that the margin of error is greater with the side arm pass than with the overhand pass.

Beginner: What is the proper way to drop back to the passing position?

Mystery Coach: The proper method for dropping back will depend on the backfield field faking that is involved. Assuming that no faking is required, you should try to move as fast as possible to the spot from which you will throw and, at the same time, keep your eyes on the defensive rusher. In other words, you want to run back just as fast as you can without taking your eyes off the rushers. When you get to the spot, plant your foot, top and get on balance immediately.

Beginner: What different types of passes must I be able to throw?

Mystery Coach: Essentially there are two types of passes. First, there is the "bullet" type which is thrown when there is no defender between you and the receiver. Second, there are the soft, high passes which are thrown to the receiver who is running away from you. Of course, the "bullet pass" is thrown when it is important to get the ball to the receiver without the defensive men time to react. When receivers are running at full speed away from the passer, it is virtually impossible to hit them with hard passes. Most passers are not that accurate. The ball is thrown high to give the receiver a chance to adjust his course and run under it. In throwing this second type always lead the receiver away from the defender. In other words, you must have two thoughts when delivering one of the passes: one, throw it out ahead of the receiver so he can run under it; two, lead the receiver away from the defender.

OK, Booties, so 1) Which coach was it that wrote this? and 2) In which year was it written/published? Reply with answers to jim@thebootleg.com

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