We live in a very outcome-orientated society. In some ways, this is good - employees are rewarded for good performance, and punished for bad performance. If a contractor builds a good house, he can charge more. If he builds bad looking houses, he has to charge less. However, we so often throw out the method through which we achieve a result and end up with a very short term view of a long term journey.
Take the example of a young kid playing basketball who has figured out how to make free throws "granny style." As it stands, he can make 6 out of 10 shots shooting that way. If when he starts learning to shoot properly he ends up making only 4 out of 10 does it mean he should go back to what got him better results? Or, does he need to see the limitations of his current method, take a long term view of his goals, and work on getting better at the proper process with the understanding that if he gets good at the process the results will take care of themselves? This young man, and quarterbacks, need to focus on the process.
The end point here is that how we do things is a better indicator of future success than the results we get right now. When making a fundamental change, it may take a while to ingrain the motor program but you will be better for it in the long term. The key is to make sure you are making the right changes to the process, which is why coaching is so important. Telling a quarterback to change a grip, an arm position, a release point, etc, is a long term change that will have a large effect on their success, for better or for worse. Good coaching means good changes implemented over time that create long term success. Poor coaching can do just the opposite.
Equally bad as poor coaching is short sighted, results-only thinking. Sometimes we are successful because of our mechanics, Other times, we are successful in spite of our mechanics. If we are successful despite bad mechanics we end up reinforcing bad habits. Never stop looking for ways to do things better and never settle for what you already know. A constant thirst to improve the process by which we do things is paramount for sustained excellence.
In my experience, the number one pre-cursor to an overuse throwing injury is what I call "wing," where the elbow lifts above the ball to initiate the throwing motion. This is debated extensively in baseball pitching mechanics, and while the world of quarterback mechanics isn't quite as publicized the issue is still equally important.
Above you can see two clear examples of the wing (you can ignore the circle around the foot, that was from a different illustration). In both pictures, the throwing motion is being initiated by the elbow being raised up above the level of the ball and shoulder. This is a terrible position for the shoulder in general, but even more so when it's to be followed by as strong a level as the shoulder is capable of. This motion tends to pinch or create an impingement at the rotator cuff, as well lead to labrum issues. That's not to say that all quarterbacks with this flaw get hurt - some folks are just genetically built differently and have more space in their shoulder anatomy and get away with the flaw (see: Michael Vick). However, it's definitely not the model to copy and really should be avoided all together.
What we want to see is a quarterback who goes straight to what I call the "90/90" position, which is a 90 degree angle between the body and upper arm, and 90 degree angle between the upper arm and forearm. Pretty much every quarterback hits this position during their motion. The issue is how they get there and where they go from it. We must avoid letting the elbow wing up to get to 90/90. Instead, push the ball up and move the body forwards to hit this spot. This allows the smaller scapula stabilizing muscles to engage, prevents any impingement in the shoulder, and also helps create velocity, accuracy, and consistency.
Quarterback Coach Alex Drayson will put up articles, thoughts, and reviews to help you stimulate your journey towards being the best QB you can be
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