The Sports Archives – The Intricacies of Throwing a Football


While there is no “tried-and-true correct” way to hold a football, this set-up is among the most common, especially for beginners. Note that only the 4th and 5th fingers grip the lace.

The NFL’s 2016 Super Bowl is rapidly approaching, and players are still in the thick of competition to see which 2 teams will be representing this year. In any professional, competitive sport, players consistently demonstrate high-level playing mechanics and complex strategies as they work to systematically come out ahead of the opposing team, but much of the knowledge and awareness that goes into creating athletic “experts” is lost to a spectator. As a result, many people are often surprised that they are, themselves, unable to duplicate even what a true athlete makes seem like the simplest techniques on the field. Indeed, something that seems trivial (for example, successfully swinging a golf club) has much more that goes into it, and the all-stars that dominate professional sports are those that are able to maximize the impact of every move they make; this perpetual pursuit towards perfection is a principle of all great sports. But even the pros had to start somewhere. This article attempts to break apart a successful throw, examining factors such as power, precision, and practice…

Preparation: One of the Most Forgotten Procedures

Even if you do not plan on throwing a football around for long, it is still a good idea to warm up and prepare yourself. The art of properly throwing a football involves the entire body – not just the arms. As a result, thorough stretching is a must! Beginning with light physical activities – jogging, jumping-jacks, etc. – will provide muscles with energy and strength without putting too much stress on the body.

Technique: Setting up a Proper Throw


When attempting correct placement in the process of throwing, it sometimes help to imagine that one is “bracing a right triangle” between torso and forearm. The 90-degree angle formed between the forearm and shoulder increases stability and power during launch.

At first, a football can be large, heavy, and unwieldy for some; this makes technique all the more critical in managing and throwing it. The most fundamental manner of holding a football involves off-set placement of the hand away from the tip. The thrower should position their 4th and 5th fingers over the lace of the football, while the 1st and 2nd remain more towards the facing pointed end. In a proper grip, the fingers do all the work and the palm is risen off the surface of the ball. First-time throwers should avoid clamping excessively on the ball, as this can reduce the potency

the throw.

Technique does not end at hand placement! Immediately before the ball is tossed, the thrower should position his body at a right angle to his receiver. A high amount of force can then be generated by the thrower twisting his body, without any loss in accuracy.

Power: How to Maximize Distance

            The process of refining one’s throwing technique is predicated on a central motif; maximize power BUT with no loss to control. Indeed, precision is immensely important when it comes to throwing a football, but this does not necessarily mean that power is worth sacrificing!


While it may be a crude realization, the mechanisms behind the spiral of a football and the spin of a bullet are not all that different in aerodynamic principle.

For the actual mechanics of generating power, the feat is, in fact, more related to physics than individual strength. The thrower should raise the ball at about the level of his head, so that his elbow and forearm make a 90-degree angle. He must then launch the ball in almost a “catapult”-like fashion. This will lead to a clean arc when the ball is released, and, provided the thrower’s finger placement was correct, the ball should fly accurately. A slight ‘snap’ of the wrist is what generates the spiraling motion that is characteristic of footballs, and the surging motion of the thrower’s entire body is what generates the optimum amount of force.

As a player gains more practice and experience handling a football, new throwing techniques are made available. However, the fundamentals will remain the same across all different types of passes, and will always be important to an elegant, successful throw.

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