Monday, June 22, 2009

Matt Leinart Takes on Mixed Martial Arts

Former Heiman Trophy winning QB Matt Leinart has been struggling to find playing time with the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted in the first round. Just saw where he has been working with Jay Glazer in mixed martial arts. This may just be an effort to get into better shape and get a little bit tougher. This is absolutely the best thing he could have ever done for his career!
I recently started teaching QB's to understand their balance and athleticism through being in a fighting posture. It also shows how the football should be thrown in a similar way to a punch. You should not lead your throw with your elbow! The elbow should be above the shoulder at release and stay up as the football goes to the target like your fist would be tracking for an overhand right to the jaw. It also helps you to control your wrist. If you keep your wrist cocked back, your punch would be sissy-like, hitting with your palm area. You should be hitting with the big knuckles of your hand and you must keep your wrist straight to make that happen.
Another thing about the balance in fighting (and Leinart's video shows he still lacks any power being generated through his hips) is you keep your head back and turn your hips to generate power, similarly in throwing the football. Too many players push off of their back foot and lean their face forward, straightening out their back leg too early. An equal bend in the knees as you turn your hips to your target and stayiing balanced between your legs will improve your overall balance considerably.
I am happy to see Matt working hard, but he needs to understand the relation to his "real" craft as he "paints the fence and sands the floor" in his version of the "Karate Kid".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Camp Mania

It's that time of year to find a football camp! There are so many choices these days that it is hard to know what you are getting for your money. Let me say that it is a crapshoot and you really are paying for the picture with whatever celebrity or school is sponsoring the camp. I encourage all of my players to go for the life experience and potential exposure (we are minutes from the University of South Florida and two hours from the University of Florida). But realize that you have no idea who will be teaching and what they will be teaching at these camps.
I taught this past Sunday at what may be the most valuable camp in the whole country. It is a charity event called Coach John Loose from Lafayette College runs it in honor of his daughter Lauren who has pediatric brain cancer. Campers pay only a $25 donation for the one day camp, but get coached by college and professional coaches in this high intensity environment. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris spoke at the University of South Florida event this year as it went into its second year in Florida. They had over 1700 kids at their Pennsylvania event that has a few years head start!
The biggest thing that I notice on the QB's at any of these group camps where the pace is usually fast. I prefer a slower pace to make sure of proper fundamentals and techniques, but what most QB's miss is the fact that when throwing to their backside (the left side for righthanders) is to look to the left side of the field before just winging it over there with possibly a quick glance. You don't watch your receivers run their routes (you know where they are supposed to go), you watch the most dangerous defender of the area that you are trying to attack with at least two receivers. But, you MUST look in that direction and watch the body language/drop of the defender and throw to the one he doesn't cover. See the area with both eyes, not out of the corner of one. And be attentive, take correction and say yes sir, no sir, it goes a long way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Matthew Stafford Showing Off Skills for Lions

A couple of things jumped out at me while reading an article from the Detroit Free Press about the Lions' #1 draft pick Matthew Stafford and how well he is doing in practice. The first thing was the quote from the coach that said they didn't know he had such a perfect release (paraphrase). Isn't that what the vetting process and personal workouts and film review of his college career is supposed to determine? You have to find out about his leadership skills, work ethic, etc. from his coaches and teammates, but the one thing you can determine is how he throws the ball!
Secondly, the photo associated with that article and this shows that there is room for improvement in his "perfect" release. Take a look at his left wrist. Breaking your wrist out does not help to creating the most aerodynamic or accurate delivery and very well may expose you to injury. Keep both wrists as straight as possible throughout your delivery.
There may be others, but Troy Aikman is the only other top-notch QB that I have seen throw the ball without the threads in his fingers or fingertips. Aikman kept them in his palm, but Stafford doesn't have them in his hand at all and this will lead to more inconsistencies than a QB that has a consistent reference point on the ball. He could also improve the quickness and consistency of his motion by keeping the ball over his elbow and not letting the tip of the ball go as high into the air as this picture shows. Keeping a strong, straight throwing wrist and putting the ball out in front of your face before release is the best, most consistent and compact way to deliver the football.