Creating a consistent, accurate, and powerful throwing motion in a quarterback is not an easy task. In fact, it's one of the most difficult things to do in sports. With an unlimited number of moving pieces and different approaches, it is as dynamic and elusive a skill set as we can find. That said, we turn on the TV every day to see guys play the position who have seemingly mastered their mechanics, from the NFL on Sundays, to College on Saturdays, even to big combines and showcases of the best high school players. So the question is then, how do these players create a consistent, accurate, and powerful throwing motion?
One might say that they practice in highly structured settings, working tirelessly to achieve specific positions in their motions and nailing down all the little details. Others might argue that naturally gifted players take in a large number of free flowing repetitions, working on their motion more like an art than a science, gradually crafting their fluid motion into something they can use in real time, game settings. Let's examine examples of each.
When it comes to structure, few schools of development are more structured than the "Suzuki" method of teaching violin. Students are taught using meticulous cues, and are even prevented from playing an actual note before their bow movements are perfected, practicing instead on tissue boxes and shoeboxes. I can remember my own sister, who was taught violin by a Suzuki instructor, sliding her bow up and down a tissue box, with a slot cut in it for the bow and covered in tape to keep it together. The same approach of disciplined attention to detail is maintained throughout the learning process, and the results have been phenomenal, creating some of the world's greatest players. If Suzuki is to be trusted, then one would say that disciplined structure creates the best skill sets.
On the other hand, Brazilian soccer presents a different, more free flowing model. Their young players all partake in Futsal, a small area, condensed version of soccer, with perhaps five to six players per side. A much faster paced game, with an increased number of ball touches per player, Futsal has been identified as one of the processes through which Brazil has been a dominant world power in soccer for decades. Their players are masters of fluidity, footwork, and movement, knifing through opponents like water cuts through a creek, filling voids and constantly pressuring defenses into mistakes. If we take Futsal as our lead, then we'd say that free flowing, fluid reps with less structure and more creativity is the best way to create a usable skill set.
Ultimately, both Suzuki and Futsal have created the world's best in their respective fields, with vastly different approaches. So which one applies to quarterback play? To answer with one or the other would be incorrect. Ultimately, both Suzuki and Futsal do the same thing: they facilitate purposeful practice repetitions. Any skill set is simply a product of meaningful practice, whatever medium that may come through. A coach's job is to create an environment where the quarterback can take highly focused, intentional practice repetitions developing the skill (correctly). The thing to remember is that practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. We must facilitate reps that focus on the quarterback doing something consistently correctly, give them appropriate and immediate feedback, and stay focused on improving the process, whether we are in structured or free-flowing settings.
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