Although it's important to train as a team in the off-season, quarterbacks require a specialized program to develop the skills they need to excel at the position.
Quarterback training has exploded in the last decade, and private quarterback coaches can now be found across the country, developing players whose skill levels range from top NFL prospects to elite high school competitors.
But not all quarterbacks have the luxury of working with a private instructor. Most rely on their head coach to create an off-season program catering to their position-specific needs.
What are those needs? Here are three essential elements of an off-season quarterback development plan.
Footwork is perhaps the most important component of quarterback training, because it affects all aspects of the position, including drop-back mechanics, arm strength and throwing accuracy.
For example, if a quarterback does not plant and drive off his back foot properly, or step into his throw completely, the velocity of the throw drops.
Straight drop-backs starting from the sideline and down a yard line is a simple drill to help eliminate wasted movements—false steps or side-to-side movement, for example—in a quarterback's drop back.
Coaches, use a whistle as a signal for the quarterback to avoid a simulated pass rush by either stepping up in the pocket with the proper steps, sliding to the left or right, or spinning out of a collapsing pocket.
When it comes to footwork, repetition is the key to success. Quarterbacks must practice the movements frequently throughout the off-season.
Flexibility and Core Strength
Quarterback training does not require the extensive weightlifting program that the rest of the team will complete in the off-season months. Arm strength is a product of flexibility and core strength and stability more than powerlifting. (Check out this QB workout.)
Training with med balls and resistance bands is ideal for building the rotational strength necessary to improve velocity. Because the overhand throwing motion is an unnatural one, developing flexibility in the shoulder, elbow and wrist is vital not only for enhancing the range of motion of a quarterback's throwing arm, but also for preventing injury.
Awareness and Vision
If a quarterback cannot scan the field for an open receiver while simultaneously avoiding the pass rush, the offense will flounder. (Learn RGIII's pocket presence drill.)
To enhance your QB's read and recognition skills, spread four or five players across the field approximately 10-15 yards downfield.
After a simulated snap, have the QB execute a five-step drop while keeping his eyes downfield and going through his progressions.
Standing behind the quarterback, points to one of the receivers, signaling the targeted player to raise his hand to his chest. Your QB must instantly identify the receiver and quickly make a strong, accurate throw to the target.
As you can see, quarterback training requires a great deal of individualized instruction, and with high school and college athletes, strict practice time limitations must be enforced. Because of these factors, quarterbacks can improve greatly if they are removed from the team's off-season program and given specialized training.
Learn more QB drills for your team through from STACK's quarterback training page.
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