In the passing game, there are a lot of things to teach the Quarterback: coverage recognition, reads, progressions, footwork, scramble rules, target points, ball placement and much more. All of these are of no value, though, unless your Quarterback can throw an accurate pass. Many times, we as coaches, spend so much time teaching schemes that we cheat time to teach the basic throwing fundamentals.

The accuracy and efficiency of your Quarterback is grounded in proper throwing mechanics. After studying hundreds of hours of NFL Quarterback film, it became apparent that there were 8 common throwing mechanic fundamentals. These became the “7 Eyes Principle” of throwing the football. Each of these “eyes” refers to the Kinesiology principles of throwing the football.

This principle taught our QB’s proper mechanics in an easy-to-learn format. If they could understand that parts of their body must “look” at the target when they throw, then they could grasp the fundamentals of proper throwing mechanics. Additionally, by dividing the throwing motion into distinct parts, we could isolate a flaw
and drill to correct it.

Teaching grip and ball placement is an article in itself because of the fine tuning that can be made to increase the efficiency of the throw; therefore, we will focus only on the “7 Eyes Principle” which covers the initial stride to the follow-through. The throwing motion begins with the first eye and ends with the eighth eye. This article will present the principle for a right-handed Quarterback.

As the throw begins, the Quarterback must stride toward the target. The first “eye” emphasizes proper foot placement. The first eye is an imaginary eye next to the big toe of the left foot. Our QB’s know that on the initial stride, this eye has to look at the target. This eye accomplishes two things:

It forces the QB to step slightly to the left of the target, which fully opens the hips on the throw.

It places the QB’s body in proper position to make a horizontally accurate throw. It sets the positioning of the rest of the body.

We also talk about the length of the initial stride. Over-striding causes the ball to sail, while under-striding causes the ball to drop. A perfect initial stride should be measured at the follow through. If the throwing shoulder finishes above (in line) with the inside of the front knee, then the stride length is correct.

The second imaginary eye is the eye next to the inside of the left knee. The QB does not have to work on this eye, but it helps reinforce that the body works together in the throwing motion. We emphasize bend in the front knee. Locking the front knee can stop the momentum transfer of the throw.

After the front foot and knee set, the hips follow the path to the target. The imaginary third eye is on the belt buckle. This is where the momentum is transferred to the upper body. The eye of the belt buckle should “look” at the target. A young QB can feel the momentum generated during the throw if you drill this eye.

The fourth eye, the eye in the middle of the numbers (chest), follows the belt buckle. This imaginary eye begins to bring the ball forward as it “looks” at the target. The QB does not have to concentrate on this eye as much as the fifth imaginary eye.

The fifth eye is on the tip of the throwing elbow. This eye is extremely important in the vertical accuracy of the throw. Placing the imaginary eye on the tip of the elbow accomplishes the following things:

It forces the QB to keep the elbow above the throwing shoulder. If the elbow drops below the shoulder, then the tip of the elbow cannot be “looking” at the target.

It forces the QB to lead with the elbow
It keeps the throwing shoulder higher than the non-throwing shoulder

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The sixth eye ensures rotation on the football. This eye is on the tip of the index finger. As the Quarterback releases the ball, he must point his index finger at the target so the tip of the thumb and palm are pointed toward the ground. This allows for the proper release of the football. It is important to note that the QB might not want to rotate the palm to the sideline because this may cause unnecessary tension in the forearm.

The actual eyes of the Quarterback are the seventh eye. This is one of the most prevalent problems in young Quarterbacks. Many times the QB is so concerned about looking off the defense that he does not focus in on his target. Once he finds his receiver, we want him to stare at the target until the throw had been made. It is amazing how many NFL Quarterbacks stay focused on the target in spite of defensive pressure.

Once the ball is released, the Quarterback must have a proper follow-through. The throwing hand must come down to the left hip. The throwing shoulder should finish just inside and above the inside of the left knee. The QB needs to be careful not to rotate too much after the release. If the chest rotates too far this can affect the accuracy of the throw.

Teaching proper throwing mechanics using the “7 Eyes Principle” allows a young Quarterback to learn the correct fundamentals of throwing the football. This might seem confusing at first, but it is very similar to driving a stick shift. When you stop a stick shift car, you must take your right foot off the pedal and press the brake; push in the clutch with your left foot; take the car out of gear with your right hand; hold the steering wheel with your left hand and look at the cars or stoplight ahead of you. This sounds confusing too, but how many of you think of this every time you stop your car?

Teaching this principle is the same as driving a stick shift. After much practice, it becomes second nature. If the young Quarterback can use the proper throwing mechanics on game day, then his accuracy and efficiency will improve.

This article was written by Kirk Thor. Coach Thor coached for three years at Rice University as a G.A. and Running Backs coach under Fred Goldsmith and three years as the Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks and Receivers Coach at Ferrum College back in the 90’s. 

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