With social media becoming one of the most common places for young QBs to find tips and drills on throwing mechanics, I thought I’d address one common piece of poor coaching I see online a lot - leaving the back foot back after the throw.
Generally, we’ll teach putting the right foot (for a righty) with the toe down level with the left foot, which allows the right foot to pivot and the back hip to follow through (picture 1).
In simplest terms, after a segment of the body has stopped, and the following segment accelerates past, the original segment can and should begin moving again. There’s a great example of this in golfers, specifically Rory McIlroy and Jason Day for our video - through impact, they stop their hips, allowing the shoulders to pass, then the club head, etc. You’ll notice that after that momentary stop, they begin moving again.
Also notice that their hips stop just after impact, not before. This should also be the case with our release - our hips should stop just after the release, then continue after the arm/shoulders have slung past. Acceleration is key - we want to be accelerating through the release. If we have already released all our kinetic energy, we lose that acceleration before we release the football. Note that the formula for Force is mass x acceleration, not velocity. If we want to impart the most force on the ball, we should be accelerating through the release, meaning our terminal velocity should be slightly after the release, meaning our hips should stop right after the release, not before (see: golf).
Now golf, baseball, and other strike sports (sports where we use a bat, club, or something similar to hit a ball) have parallels to throwing, but they are limited because of the extra lever. Notice we were talking about hip movement, not necessarily foot placement. And, in golf and baseball, we leave the back foot back. While the hip action of all rotational sports translates across sports in fairly global terms, the foot placement is different due to that extra lever. In sports where there is a lever, the back foot stays back, i.e. baseball, golf. However, in all throwing sports, where our arm is the lever, the back foot will follow through. We see this across all throwing sports - baseball pitchers, javelin throwers, shotputters, etc.
In all cases, they go through the same kinetic sequence, ultimately slowing or stopping one segment so the next can accelerate past it (even the shotput one, if you slow it down and watch from the front angle). But, in all cases, they have to return to rotating their hips and by proxy, moving their back foot.
The reason a sport with a bat or club can leave their back foot back and still regain rotation after the moment of slingshotting a segment past the leading segment is because of the lever. The arms don’t have to get as far out in front of the body because they are holding onto the bat or club, which actually forces the athlete to position their weight further back, limiting the need of the back foot to move forward. This specific skill doesn’t translate to quarterback play because obviously, we don’t have a bat, and our arm and weight need to continue forwards more.
The phrase I hear that frustrates me is “rotational” throwing. Yes, I believe in rotation. I teach it everyday. But rotation doesn’t mean we don’t want to create any linear forces, i.e. movement toward the target. Both rotational forces and linear forces apply to our throws, and teaching a quarterback not to move their back foot to create rotation is simply wrong - you can move your back foot forward, and still create rotation. In fact, every other throwing sport does exactly that. Leaving your back foot back simply loses linear forces, narrows your arc towards the release, and stops your body from rotating after the release like it’s supposed to.
So yes, I teach a rotational throwing motion, just like every coach out there. Literally every single coach knows that rotation is an important, crucial, power producing, essential component of throwing. That's like a college physics professor saying he understands algebra. What's more important is knowing how rotation interplays with the other variables at play.
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