Pro Quarterback Drills, Skills, and Technique: Mastering the Footwork and Drop Steps

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Last modified on Saturday, 25 May 2013 09:51

     One of the keys to being a great quarterback is accuracy.  To be an accurate Quarterback means you need to be able to be on target in the pocket and on the move. Quick feet are essential to being an accurate quarterback. Great footwork means that you are efficient with your steps, and that you are always prepared to throw the football. Great footwork also means that you have perfect balance, and uncanny rhythm. Although many distractions are happening around you, you must keep rhythmic unison with your wide receivers and with the flow of the play.


  There is no secret style to being a great quarterback. Many quarterbacks have different frames of mind. Even so, if you are an efficient out-of-pocket quarterback, you are thinking pass when scrambling out of the pocket. It is hard keeping a calm focus when scrambling out of the pocket let alone executing the play with accuracy, so your form and technique must absolutely be flawless 100% percent of time through repetition before you can say that you are a great decision making quarterback.After the skills are in place then you can focus on bigger issues and reading the D. If you are fast and have a great throwing ability, you can use your feet to buy more time out of the pocket, without penetrating the line of scrimmage, for your receivers to get open. A quarterback must protect the ball and to accomplish this it is imperative that he knows the down and the distance needed at all times. One turnover is one too many and there are a number of drills that can help you be a more efficient quarterback.



     The quarterback footwork drills for the drop step are very important and takes a lot of repetitions to be perfect. Let us explain the process for a right hand quarterback. If you are left handed then switch sides around for this article.The stance of the quarterback is very important, so, let us start from the basics.


The Quarterback Snap

     The quarterback should have his feet lined up shoulder width apart with his toes pointing straight forward, at first to get his line of reference.He should be initially standing with his footballthrow1weight distributed equally on both feet making him stable and balanced. When you are lined up behind your center, slide your left foot back so that the tip of your left foot is lined up with the middle of your right foot and then shift your body weight over so that the majority of your body weight are on the ball of your left foot.You should not be flat footed and no weight should be on the heels.The first benefit from this stance is that you will have a greater range of motion in your hips and in turn, have a longer stride back. Another thing that placing the left foot a little behind you does is that it all owes you to step backfaster, and smoother with a less chances of tripping.It is similar to how track athletes get down in the blocks before their race helping them take off faster. The lower back should be straight with good posture, chest out, and head up.You should not bend solely with your back, rather, maintain a strong straight back and head up as you bend mostly with your legs and hips.Think of it as sitting your backside out and down behind you in an invisible chair. As you bend down to hike the ball, for reference, your shoulders should come down and out a little in front of your hips.With arms extended, your hands should meet as you place the palm of your hand on your throwing arm and put it over your other hand.Remember to keep your fingers fully extended, giving you a wider target to receive the snap. Keep your hands and thumbs together for the snap.If you are fumbled prone, cross your thumbs.This will help you prevent fumbling the ball on the snap. Now, you are ready to have the ball snapped.

     At the snap of the ball, get the ball directly to your stomach so that you are ready for either hand the ball off to the running back or prepared to get the ball immediately up to your throwing shoulder.If you hand off the ball keep the defense guessing by continuing to act as if the football is still in your possession.Do not let your arms just flail or turn around completely towards the defense, revealing that you did hand the ball off, keep them guessing.At the snap, if you are looking to throw the ball, keep your movements tight and efficient. To execute this properly, first rip the ball directly into your stomach, while getting your grip right simultaneously, and then bring the ball up to your throwing shoulder.It is very important to be able to hold the ball with your fingertips. You never want the ball to be on your palm. You want only your fingertips gripping that ball to that point that you should see space between your palm and the football.There is not a perfect way to hold the ball as far as position but the general norm is one to two fingertips in the grip because the grips gives you better spirals.On the release of the ball you want to snap the wrist. Think of the movement of the ball on a 90 degree angled path from the snap to your throwing shoulder.Do not keep the ball out away from your body as the football makes its way from the snap to your throwing shoulder.This gives a greater risk of the football being stripped away by the defense or even increasing the risk of your own player bumping into you and causing a fumble. The point being, remember that it is important that the first thing you do is get the ball in tight with your body.


Three Step Drop


     Make the first drop step that you take perpendicular to your original alignment, then do a crossover step by crossing your left foot over your right foot (Remember: This is for a right hand quarterback, it is the opposite for a left handed quarterback). The crossover step does not need to be super long, as it should be used as a setup step. This crossover step is used in preparation for you to plant your right foot and shift your body weight and momentum in the opposite direction by stepping out as you throw the ball to your receiver.

     To recap, the first drop step taken from the snap is fast, explosive, and long. Remember to take full ownership of the ball on the snap by ripping the ball into your body and then immediately to your throwing shoulder.Your second step is a quick, crisp crossover step.Remember, you should not overextend yourself by stepping too far on the crossover step. It is critical for you to maintain great balance and posture.The crossover step allows you to bring the right foot back through in time to plant into the ground and stop your body momentum.The fourth step is taken on your throw forward. The three-drop step is the most common drop step sequences used for very short throws.There are exceptions, where plays are conducted quickly and do not allow enough time for the QB to take a three-step drop.Especially, being a quarterback in a West Coast styled offense.A quick play such as a slant, might call for a drop step and throw.Despite these exceptions, the three-step drop is normally the shortest sequence of drop steps used.


Five Step Drop


     With this type of drop step, your goal is to create more distance from the line of scrimmage.This sequence is used for short to medium distance plays. The difference from this drop step and the three-step drop is that you are trying to create more distance from the line of scrimmage in order to create the time needed for your receivers to get open.On average the distance you are looking to throw the ball on this particular drop step is 10 yards or more. Take your left foot out a bit before the snap happens, allowing your hips to have a greater range of motion to shift that initial step back even farther.In a five-step drop, the first three steps are for depth.It needs to be in this order: the first step is a long step back, second step is a crossover step, third step is another long stride back, fourth step is a crisp crossover step used to set up the fifth step which is an efficient and balanced plant off of the right foot. This is best when running a curl or an in or out route. However, when you begin throwing passes around 15 yards or more, you may need to plant your fifth step and then slide forward before you step out to throw.This extra slide forward does a few things for the quarterback.It buys time for the receiver for deeper routes, and allows the quarterback to have a better vision of the entire field as the play develops. It also gives the quarterback the chance to get better balanced, as you will be able to shift your entire body’s momentum in the direction of your target more effectively, thus giving you greater velocity on yourthrow. These steps need to be perfected and performed effortlessly without even thinking about it. You need to be thinking more about what is happening around you. While the five step drop and throw used for shorter routes, a five step drop with a slide forward can be used for mid-range passes. Again, your initial step back should reach back long and strong.Your second step is the crossover step and is the same step as the previous drop steps. Then, you have another long stride as you step back. At this moment, the speed and momentum of your body weight will be gaining speed.That is why balance is so important because you are building up greater momentum than the three-step drop and cannot afford to lose your balance.The fourth step is another crossover step.Finally, the fifth step back strides out and plants off the right foot.This sequence of steps may call for you to add an extra slide step forward.That will be determined in practice through timing up plays with your receivers.This is what begins separating quarterbacks from quarterback with good footwork.Training involving agility drills such as carioca and ladder drills prove their worth with the five and seven step drops. Check out our “Professional Quarterback-Training Manual” and get your game to that next level.


Seven Step Drop


      When it comes to the seven-step drop, you need to realize that while you are trying to gain distance from the line, creating distance is not the ultimate goal.The offensive plan for this drop step is to create a pocket by creating the distance from the line of scrimmage quickly and then stepping forward into the pocket, allowing you to buy time for your receivers. Perfecting your seven-step drop is critical because when executed correctly, it forces the defensive line to attack out and around, which in turn, allows you to form a perfect pocket as you slide step forward and scan the field for the open man.The faster you get back and get set, the more time you have to step up and read the field.Stepping too far back, distance wise, you can create problems.One of these problems is incoming defensive ends from the outside.The distance created by the quarterback can be anywhere from seven to eight yards behind the line of scrimmage.It should not be more than eight yards because that is too far and is hard for the Offensive line to defend against from the outside.This is a drop step performed for hitting receivers on longer routes.The step is ideal for something like a post route. This drop step also nearly every time involves a slide step forward. The throws will be long, and you need to gather your momentum, stay balanced, and buy time for your receivers.The first step, like the other drop steps, is explosive and fast. The sooner you get out to the end of your step drop, the more you push the defensive line to the outside, giving you more time to gather yourself and slide forward. This is what creates that perfect pocket positioning which allows you time to read the field and decide on passing the ball with good decision-making.This sequence begins with an explosive reach step back, followed by a crossover step.Then, another long reach step, followed by a crossover step.Next, another fast reach step, with a crisp clean crossover step, which allows you to bring your right foot back out in order to plant off it and shift forward with a rhythmic slide step forward and pass. Remember that to get all these motions down, you've got to go through quarterback footwork drills and practice over and over again so it becomes second nature, so that when it is game time, you won't even be thinking, it'll just happen.

Read 2210 times Last modified on Saturday, 25 May 2013 09:51