Q: After the intangibles, what is the most important aspect of playing quarterback successfully?
A: First, if a quarterback isn't accurate, he has a hard time being very good. It doesn't matter what his arm is like or what his technique is like if he isn't accurate. You have guys that have great technique, but then you have guys that have the ability to get the ball where it needs to be, with the correct timing at the right spot. Accuracy is the biggest thing I look for.
Q: What do you teach with your kids to maximize their ability to be accurate?
A: There are a number of things. One of the things I always tell my quarterbacks, as far as development is aim small, miss small. Instead of just throwing to a receiver and having your mind focused there, try to train to aim small and miss small. Throw to a specific target.
We also teach kids to hold the finish as part of that. Our quarterbacks rarely threw a bad ball when we do that. Whey they held the finish on a target, they transfer the weight from back to front. Then your mechanics begin to tighten up.
It's not something you can do for two years and no longer work on. You have to do it all the time throughout your career to be consistent. You've got to keep practicing it and always focus on it.
As far as other technique, I believe the elbow has got to be above the shoulder too. If a kid has a long arm, you can do things to shorten him up, but I think someone always goes back to what they've always done in live bullets.
Q: What is bottom line that makes a quarterback have good footwork?
A: To me, good footwork is coming to a balanced point every time you throw the football. Whether you hit your third step and throw or have to shuffle and slide coming to a balanced point, when able to, is good footwork. You don't see a lot of kids balance up on the front foot to finish a throw. A lot of times you can't because you've got linemen in your face or you're about to hit a helmet with your hand and those types of things too. The really good ones find a way. I like to watch Cutler in the NFL. He's got that ability.
Q: What are your thoughts on throwing a good deep ball?
A: The thing I've always been taught and teach is to elevate the left shoulder (right hander's) to the lights. Obviously, you can't do that, but it puts a quarterback in a position with an elevated left shoulder. There are a lot of thoughts on the deep ball. A coach named Mike Santiago tells his guys, when they are looking down the field, to throw to the top of the helmet. His theory is that the mind and everything will calculate that. Obviously, the receiver won't be at that spot when he catches the ball.
I do believe in what Todd Dodge talks about with the on-ball, two-ball and three-ball approach. I believe that is a good way to present to kids. A quarterback can't throw a three ball on a seam route. A kid has to have a visual no matter how you teach.
We also work standing and throwing on a line (yard line across the field). We have the quarterback stand on a line throwing across the field with the belly button finishing on the line. If you finish right or left, the ball drifts. Jacob (Karam) thought that helped him a lot. It got his shoulders square.
Q: The most underrated part of throwing the football is the hips, core and the rotation that creates. What are your thoughts on the importance of that aspect?
A: About 90% of your arm strength is not going to come from how strong your lats, delts and rotator get. The strength is going to come from your core. There's a ton of stuff out there these days to strengthen the core. The other thing that gets into is rotation. On the throw, getting your hips and core through the ball is key. The faster you can do that, the more velocity you can put on the ball. It's similar to swing speed in golf…rotating through the ball fast creates the lag and swing speed.