If you want to be an impressive deep-ball passer -- along the lines of the Ravens’ Joe Flacco or the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick -- you can take your game to the next level by addressing your current body mechanics, throwing motion and arm strength. Flacco won a collegiate contest with a 74-yard heave, which may have something to do with his 6-foot-6 height, giving him impressive leverage. Just keep sight of the fact that “farther” doesn’t mean “better” -- maintaining accuracy is more important than adding 10 yards to your throw.
Back to Basics
Review the basics of good passing at any distance to improve your accuracy and depth. Good throws begin with your grip, notes former college and pro coach Tom Bass in “Football Skills and Drills.” Your index finger needs to be near the tip of the ball, across the seam in line with the laces, and the middle and third fingers go across the laces so that the fingertips touch the ball itself. The tip of your little finger needs to touch the laces. With your toes aiming in the direction of the throw, your passing motion begins with a step forward with the foot opposite the passing arm. Bring your throwing arm back, while moving your hips and shoulders toward the throwing target. Finish the throw by whipping the arm forward with a downward follow-through. “Arm speed and ball velocity result from using the entire body to make the throw,” Bass notes.
Take a Long Drop
For your medium and deep throws, take a five- or seven-step drop. The three-step drop is only appropriate when your targeted receiver is running a shorter route. Sprint back from the line of scrimmage and take a final, longer step, called a plant step. Balance both feet under your body, stand tall and begin your passing motion.
A Pair of Drills
You can work on the five- and seven-step drop with your coach, taking the correct drop for various pass patterns as he calls them out. As you drop, look to the coach, who will give you the desired direction of the pass, then complete the mechanics of the throw -- you don’t have to actually throw the ball. Bass notes that this drill gives you practice in stepping into throws from all areas of the field. Follow up with a distance passing drill, designed to increase arm strength. Throw the passes to a partner 10 yards away, increasing the throws in five-yard increments until your form suffers. At this point, go back to the yard marker where you can maintain good form and complete five more passes.
Your Upper-Body Fitness Strategy
To further increase your arm and overall upper-body strength, faithfully perform your team’s offseason, preseason and in-season conditioning program. Look for exercises such as high lat pulldown and one-arm dumbbell row for a stronger back, the standing shoulder press and dumbbell raises for the shoulders, and chest work such as the close-grip bench press and dips. The authors of “Complete Conditioning for Football” also recommend biceps curls, triceps extensions and forearms drills such as wrist rollers and squeezing rice in a bucket.