Welcome to our quarterback drills page where you will find everything you need to help develop a quarterback for American Football. We will show the important techniques and tips that you as a coach need to teach the young quarterback.
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We will cover the different types of skills that need to be improved for every quarterback no matter the age or skill level. We will cover the following skill groups in great detail:
Agility Quarterback Drills – We want a quarterback that can move and have the ability to get rid of the ball from a variety of positions. We will show complete details on many drills including drop-back, rollout and option drills. Included in these drills are the drop back and roll out drills for passing. Quarterback footwork is the most ignored, yet most important, areas of developing a young QB. The QB needs to be skilled on how to react when pass protection breaks down and he needs to move.
Ball Handling Quarterback Drills – Like a point guard in basketball, the quarterback must be an expert ball handler. We will show examples of quarterback drills that will include how to grip the ball, hold on to the ball and how to reduce fumbles.
Passing Quarterback Drills – This is what most people are looking for when searching for quarterback drills, so we will provide numerous drills that will help your quarterback become a better passer. We will explain the Two Knee, One Knee, Opposite Toss, Circle Toss and many more. We will show drop back passing quarterback drills as well as roll out passing and off balance drills.
By using these drills, we will help improve our quarterback’s hand-eye coordination, passing and ball handling skills. We will be able to reduce fumbles and turnovers as well as bad snaps and bad hand-offs.
What do I do if I do not have a Quarterback? Sometimes there is no player capable of playing the quarterback position. When this happens we take a page from the Miami Dolphins and run the Wildcat, but only a modified version for youth football. Click here to check out the best modified youth playbook on the Miami Dolphins Wildcat Offense.
Agility Quarterback Drills
Get Back Quarterback Drills- This quarterback drill is used to emphasize the importance of dropping back fast. Far too many players watch TV, where it appears the QB can take his sweet time dropping back to pass. TV does not due justice to the actual speed of the game. These players learn quickly that they must drop back, or sprint out, as fast as they can. See the image below. All images are courtesy of the Glazier Clinics.
Quick Release Quarterback Drills - This simple drill teaches the QB to get rid of the ball quickly while in a mad scramble. Too many QBs panic and throw interceptions when they start to scramble and this drill will help teach the QB how to dump the ball when under tremendous pressure.
Step Over Quarterback Drills - Here we are developing quick feet, as the QB must continually step over the bag we have laid on the ground. We want the quarterback to keep the ball up and head forward as he steps front and back over the bag.
Step Over and Throw Quarterback Drills – Once our QBs have mastered the Step Over Drill we now will add a throw into the drill. We are still looking for quick steps, but now we want to make sure the quarterback is getting set before he releases the ball. You must make sure he is getting set before he releases the ball, otherwise be prepared for quite a few interceptions.
Sprint Out Passing Quarterback Drills – This is one of the more important quarterback drills to use, especially at the youth football level since very few of your passes will be drop back passes. As the children become older and their arm strength gets better, you will be able to add some drop back passing, but still the majority of your successful pass plays will come on the run. I like to use a netted backstop, much like a baseball tee hitting net to catch the balls. I start by setting the net up and then line up the quarterbacks about 5 yards away on either side. On the whistle, I have the players sprint out, in the direction of the net and fire the ball into the net. The points of emphasis are making sure the QB keeps his head up, keeps both hands on the ball, keeps the ball up at shoulder level ready to release it and sprints as fast as he can. As the quarterback release the ball, he must pivot his shoulders square towards the net and step in the direction of the net as he releases the ball. We teach this pass as more of a “dart throw”, especially for the shorter passes. We then switch sides and make sure our QBs can pass in both directions, while in a full out sprint.
After we have mastered the 5 yard pass, we will back the QB line up, 5 yards at a time, until we have reached a distance of no longer than 25 yards. Please note we will only go this deep with the older kids and will never go past the 10-yard distance with the beginner levels.
Once we have completed throwing into the net, we now call over the receivers and work on our two most basic, yet necessary passes, the slant and the sideline route (down & out). We again start at the 5-yard level and start with the sideline passes to the left. I have made it a habit to teach my quarterbacks to master throwing to the left first, since most defenses are built with their strength to our right and I want my players to master the harder throws first. We line up the receivers in the slot and have them run a 5-yard down and out pattern. On the snap of the ball, the quarterback sprints left as the slot begins his route. Both players will be sprinting full speed towards the sideline and the ball is not thrown until the coach blows the whistle. Both players need to learn how to run and throw at the proper angles, especially since there is no need to lead a receiver when both players are sprinting in the same direction. You need to teach the passers to aim for the chest of the receivers. Too many times we have seen a wide-open sideline pass go incomplete since the QB over lead him, so years ago we made this change and now we rarely see an overthrow.
After we have completed the sideline passes, we move to the slant drills. The slant is the most devastating play in football, at every level, when executed properly. Look no further than Brett Favre who has made a living throwing the slant pass. We now line up the receivers 12-15 yards away from where our last offensive lineman will be and have him run on a 45-degree angle toward the middle of the field. We will use the slant when we get an isolation of one defensive back covering our receiver. Again, this pass must hit the receiver in the chest, in stride. This is a harder pass to complete since the quarterback and receiver are sprinting full speed in opposite directions.
Quarterback Warm-Up Quarterback Drills -
The first video on this page shows a good warm up drill you can use to help get your quarterbacks ready for practice. This drill emphasizes moving your hips and making sure you point towards the target you intend to throw to. You begin by standing sideways throwing back and forth while getting your shoulders pointed in the direction you plan to release the ball. Always follow through, after the throw, by having your thumb pointing down.
Next, have the two quarterbacks face each other, with parallel shoulder and hips. Here we are working on the follow through motion where once again we want to make sure the thumb on the throwing hand is pointing down. It is also to remember that after the ball has been released that we allow the momentum of our body carry through to our lead leg. If you are working on a roll-out pass always make sure to take a few steps after the ball has been released.
The last warm-up quarterback drill is to face each other in the complete opposite direction than is normal. This stance will help us over exaggerate the opening up of the shoulders and teach the young QBs how to really get their shoulders open and extended towards the receiver.
Quarterback Ladder Quarterback Drills – This is a great drill to have all players who will be handling the football go through. This includes any slots or receivers that may be handing off the ball in a reverse. Ball protection is goal one and this drill should teach the players how to keep the ball protected while at the same time keeping their hips and shoulders square as the progress through the rope ladder. Tom Brady demonstrates the perfect technique we are looking for.
Ball Handling Quarterback Drills
Much like a good point guard in basketball, we need to make sure our quarterback is an excellent ball-handler. If our quarterback does not take care of the ball, we will not have success. We will start with the snap and trust me, this needs to be worked on! After the snap, we will work on tucking the ball into the body for running plays as well as protecting the ball high for passing plays.
The first thing we need to teach our quarterback is the proper grip of the football. The two videos below do a good job of explaining how to hold the ball and make sure that there is proper air between your palm and the ball. The second video shows the proper follow through with the throwing hands index finger pointing down.
Quarterback Drills – Stance & Center Exchange
The first area to teach the new quarterback is how to get in the proper stance. The stance will vary depending on whether you will use a traditional snap where the QB lines up behind the center with his hands under the center’s rear or if you are using a shotgun snap. I agree with most of the video except I do not teach my players to spread their legs shoulder width apart. I keep their legs much closer with the first drop step being deep and straight back. We determined that we could teach a one-step drop-back pass for our quick slant and fade routes. We used this technique with the older kids and while running a run and shoot offense. The balance of the video does a nice job of explaining the proper stance.
The next video shows the quarterback center exchange quarterback drills. This is the most important, yet under coached, area of football, especially at the youth football level. The play does not get going unless we get a good exchange between the quarterback and the center. This video does a nice job of showing the traditional snap where the quarterback lines up behind the center and places his hands under the rear end of the center.
The next video is geared towards the younger youth football players where the coaches use the term of 3 P’s to reinforce to their quarterback hoe they should handle the snap from the center.
The first P stands for Pressure, meaning pressure on the center’s but. When you place your hands under the center make sure you push up with a decent amount of pressure so the center knows where to snap the ball. It makes it far easier for the center when he can feel where the quarterback’s hands are. The center does not have to guess and can snap the ball very quickly and directly into the QB’s hand without looking or worrying if the snap is getting there. The center just snaps the ball where he feels the pressure.
The second P stands for Push, meaning as the QB is receiving the ball he should push his hands forward and “ride the center’s rear-end” as the ball is snapped. Far too many QB’s do the exact opposite and in their excitement, they pull their arms away from the center and the ball drops on the ground. Make sure the QBs get used to pushing forward and riding the center until the ball is secured safely.
The third P stands for Pull, meaning once the ball has been received we need to secure the ball by pulling the ball back to our body. If it is a running play, the quarterback needs to pull the ball to his stomach and protect the ball with his body as the play develops. This technique also serves as a great way to hide the ball from the defense. If we have called a passing play then the quarterback must pull the ball up to his shoulders, squeezing the ball with two hands, and keeping the football secure while he performs his drop-back or rollout.
Passing Quarterback Drills
Windows Quarterback Drills - This is a drill to teach the quarterback how to find the appropriate open area, or “window” to throw the ball to the receiver who is open. This drill uses a few stand-in defenders to help simulate the movement of the defensive line and linebackers. The linebackers will be reading pass and dropping into coverage zones so this gives the quarterback an idea of the amount of movement that will be going on. With many teams using a zone blitz style of defense it is important to have defenders drop from the line as well so the quarterback can get used to it.
Quarterback Drills – Drop Back Passing
The next sets of videos are working on drop back passing techniques. It is my belief that 99% of youth football teams that pass will need to use some type of rollout pass and not a straight drop-back. I have observed this over the years and a few of the main reasons I believe you should forget the drop-back pass are:
- QB Arm Strength – Young players just do not have the arm strength to be complete drop-back quarterbacks. If the standard drop will be 10 yards and you need to throw a five-yard down and out pattern, you are looking at a pass of at least 20 yards that needs to be a bullet pass. You cannot lob a sideline pass or it will be a pick-six.
- Pass Protection – Youth football blocking is “getting in the way” more than anything else. There is too much one-on-one blocking and individual assignments with a pure drop-back passing scheme. Holding becomes a bigger problem for the younger players as it is a natural reaction to just grab when you are getting beat by a defender.
- Line of Sight – It’s hard to see downfield when you are fully-grown, yet alone when you are a kid. With all the movement on the line, it makes it very hard for the youth quarterback to focus on reading defenders downfield.
Using a rollout scheme is much easier regarding all the three points above, and it is easier and safer to coach. Rarely do you see backside or blindside hits when using a roll-out passing scheme. You also allow the quarterback the option to ‘tuck and run” which is usually the better option anyway.
If you decide to use a drop-back scheme these videos have some pretty good quarterback drills to use. The video below features Tom Brady doing the standard drop box drill.
This next video shows Tom Brady working on his 5-step drop and on the coach’s command, reverse pivot and wheel out. Once again, this is great for the older players, but I’m hard pressed to see any value in teaching this to kids. Any kid turning his back on the defense is doomed.
The good part in this video is watching Brady’s technique as he wheels out. If you ignore the wheel and turn it into a rollout, I believe you can learn something from this video. As he rolls out looks how he tucks the ball, keeping it close to his chest and keeps his head looking forward. After the pass is released, notice the few follow through steps and perfect follow through with the thumb pointing down.
This next set of quarterback drills solidifies my reasoning on why you should not bother with drop-back passing in youth football. Here we see Tom Brady working on a 20-yard drop back with a resistance belt. The points of emphasis when teaching a drop-back passing game is you need your quarterback to get back as fast and as deep as possible. Notice how both the left and right drops are practiced. By using an unrealistic drop back we can improve on the more realistic 10, 7 and 5 step drops we will use.
The next video is called Working the Pocket. It has the quarterback moving left, right, forward and back while keeping the ball up high. The coach will also have the QB working on resetting his feet and scanning the field. These drills are great for the much older kids and not of any use for the first and second year football players.