Thursday, January 5, 2012

First You Have to Throw It - Passing Part 2

Searching my Outlaws photos for passing pictures, I came across this one of Julie Wilke. 

She is exhibiting proper form in throwing the ball.  Coaches teach quarterbacks to establish good balance, to step through the throw, not throw off of your back foot.  They explain proper position of the elbow and proper follow-through.  (It is amazing that follow through affects the direction of the ball since it has already left your hand but follow through is important.)

If you Google you'll find lots of sites explaining proper passing techniques for the quarterback.  Here's one I found on youtube.

In my photo here it is clear that Julie is doing it right. 

If only it were so simple.

We're devoting a few blog posts to the passing game.  In the previous post we noted high scoring games in some of the bowl games.  Last night West Virgina scored 70 points in the Orange bowl.  They had 401 yards passing, 188 running.   A few days ago Baylor won with 67 points.  Several other games have scores in the 40s.  These high scores are possible because of the passing game. 

The game rules promote these mega-scores.  The rule is that when the receiver is 5 yards past the line of scrimmage the defender cannot touch him/her while runners are fair game from the moment they get the ball.  So receivers "gain" lots of yards before they even have the ball, before anyone can lay a hand on them.

Rules also stop the clock after incomplete passes, which promotes longer games.  In contrast, on running plays the game clock keeps running after the end of the play.  In another post we'll talk about clock management in football.

If passing generates big scoring games, why isn't there more passing in women's professional football? 

Because passing is hard.  It takes remarkable skill to throw a ball twenty or thirty yards to a receiver racing full speed down the field.  College and NFL passers have practiced passing for hundreds of hours.  Few female quarterbacks have the luxury of hundreds of passes in practice to hone the skill. 

Even if you've mastered the skills outlined in the Youtube video, in games you rarely get to throw as  you've been coached. 

Quarterbacks are smaller than their blockers.  Throwing the ball requires seeing your receivers through a wall of blockers and defensive linewomen.  Difficult.

Small quarterback with a wall of blockers and tacklers between her
and her receivers.  How can she see to know where to throw the ball?

 Remember our three second rule?  The quarterback has about three seconds from the time she gets the ball to the time she releases it to her receiver.  Hurry up.  Those are big strong defenders coming at you trying desperately to get a sack.  A sack is tackling the quarterback before she can release the ball.  Often the quarterback has to throw the ball while running for her life.  In times like that it is easy to forget fundamentals, balance, step-through, follow through.

On this and the photo above the Outlaws quarterback is having to hurry
her throw.  She doesn't have much time to worry about proper balance and
form.  She is getting some help from Monica who is going to block
the one tackler.  But there are other tacklers to the right of this action.


Julie throwing under duress. 

Monica without help from blockers.  Hurry Monica!  Both of those
defenders are bigger than you are.  Throw it!  Quick.

With Soho charging at you you'd better throw it fast.  You may
not have the full three seconds. 

Sometimes the defender almost wins the contest.  Sometimes the tackler gets hold of the quarterback, upsetting balance and making it more difficult to throw long and true.

Almost.  Sometimes the attacking linewoman gets
just enough contact with the quarterback to
spoil her aim.

Julie again.  Where's that perfect form?  Hard to think about
fundamentals when  you are in the arms of a tackler.

The quarterback has a hazardous job.  Generally smaller than would-be tacklers, she has to get the ball from center, step back to get a little room to work, spot the receiver down field, take aim on where to throw the ball so the receiver can catch it without breaking stride, check for the pass defense to be certain she doesn't throw to the wrong-colored jersey.  If she doesn't get it done fast enough, someone like #8 Ski Tejeda may just tally yet another sack by hitting the quarterback in the backfield.

Throwing the ball on an empty field requires skill.  Throwing in a game with blockers and tacklers all over the place is incredibly difficult.  Players like Rodgers (Green Bay) Manning (Eli - Giants, Peyton - Colts) and Brees (Saints) are practically supernatural.  How can anyone do what they do? 

Practice practice practice practice.  Plus a whole lot of skill.

We'll stay on the passing game for our next two posts.  One will look at receivers.  I have some cool shots of receivers trying to catch that ball.  And another post will be about defending against the pass.

No comments: