Quarterback is the most challenging position on a football team and, arguably, the toughest to play in all of sports. The combination of knowledge and skill required makes it imperative that young hopefuls begin an appropriate training program early. In addition to strength and conditioning, a quarterback should work specifically to develop his footwork, grip strength and accuracy in making throws. A solid foundation of skills laid down early gives young quarterbacks the best chance to succeed at the position at higher levels of competition.
The verdict is still out regarding how strenuous a weight lifting program, if any at all, a youth quarterback should undertake while his body is still growing. Weight training has long been mandatory with high school coaches, but for players prior to high school, it falls to the parent to decide how much is too much. The bottom line is that a quarterback needs to be mobile, strong and quick to successfully play the position. At the youth age, a focus on regular outdoor activity might be preferable to training drills.
A quarterback needs to have quick feet to complete the standard three-, five and seven-step drop to throw a pass. The position also requires intricate moves when executing fakes and handoffs to running backs. Specific workouts to improve foot speed and coordination at the youth level would include soccer, jumping rope and the traditional tire and rope drills normally associated with football. A knowledgeable coach can watch a quarterback going through his paces and offer suggestions as to how to improve foot placement.
More than anything, a quarterback is considered to be a throwing position. Coaches and parents should start getting young arms into shape early with drills like a controlled version of "catch." To do this, stand 10 yards apart. Have the quarterback deliver technically correct passes at that distance, making sure he rotates his hips and follows through after the throw with proper form. After a set number of throws at that distance, have the receiver move out to 15 yards and repeat the process. Do it again at 20 yards.
A quarterback with a rocket arm and terrible aim isn't much of a quarterback at all. Precision throwing drills should be incorporated into the training process early. One method is to set up stationary targets on pedestals at varying distances and have the young quarterback knock them off with throws. Another is to rig a tire on a rope. Set it into motion swinging and let him try to throw a football through the open center at different distances.
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