You know it's a slow news day in Eagles Land when I literally searched for inspiration by throwing a football around with my neighbor's kids. Then it hit me!—no, not the ball…well, yes, sort of…
I was never trained as a QB in throwing the football. It's a position I never played. But every kid plays throw and catch with a football. It's the Amurrikin way. And every kid wants to go deep.
I always wondered why I could throw a baseball farther than anybody, but I could barely throw a football on a straight line for more than 25 yards, and I could barely throw a long arc ball more than 40 yards.
I simply wrote it off to a need for a better grip and more practice— I was never going to play QB anyway.
Then my neighbor's kid, who's attended junior QB camps and wants to try out for our local high school team, spotted something in my delivery.
"You're grip is okay, Mr. Jackson…but you're pronating your wrist in the wrong direction at release."
WHaaa?! Pronating my wrist the wrong way? In other words, I've been trying to throw a spiral with a slider motion of the wrist instead of a screwball motion?
Apparently so. Who knew? In other words, at the point of release, if you are a right-hander, your thumb should rotate to the left and end up pointing straight down to the ground.
The kid showed me. I tried it. Suddenly I had a tighter spiral and more distance on a straight line throw. And after a few tries, I was getting 50 yards of air under the ball instead of 40.
The kid made a few adjustments to my grip, too. Here's the "ideal" grip:
I asked the kid to tell me more. He referred me to his Quarterback Camp coach—Jeff Trickey, who runs Jeff Trickey Quarterback Camps.
"If people have proper instruction, they can be shown and taught how to hold and load it," said Trickey, "If they step directly toward their target at the point of their release, it's a natural movement."
The key is to make sure the middle finger and the thumb are placed right below the white ring on the football (or where the white ring would be on an NFL ball)— almost even with one another. The smaller fingers then grip the seams and the index finger gives the hand some stability behind the ball.
Once the grip is sound, the art of throwing a good spiral is a total body experience. There are a number of different parts to keep in mind, but getting the hang of it is a quick process for those around the game of football.
"Your front shoulder and upper torso should be just slightly open so you can see the back side of the defense," Trickey said. "Your front shoulder leads, and the front foot has to drive to the point of reception."
The point of reception is not necessarily where the receiver is, but rather where he's going to be. In a game situation, the two often are different. But if you're just playing catch with someone to get the hang of throwing a spiral, step toward your partner and fling it.
Keep the hand on the outside of the ball as you're going through the throwing motion. Releasing the ball properly is tough for a rookie, but keep in mind the follow through: rotate the thumb toward the opposite thigh, and make sure the inside of the index finger is the last piece of you touching the ball as you release it. Emphasize your whole body working together smoothly.
The end result, with the right technique and some hard work, is a beautiful spiral you've been pursuing for a long time.
That rotation of the thumb (due to pronation of the wrist) in a counter-intuitive direction (towards the inner thigh) is the secret. Yeah, I know, that's what she said…
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GUEST EDITORIAL from LEHIGH VALLEY EXPRESS-TIMES…
"EAGLES TRAINING CAMP WON'T BE THE SAME"…
Convenience, logistics, medical facilities, weight rooms, an indoor football field, oversized beds to help 350-pound men rest their bones at night…
Call it the schlep factor — the official reason the Philadelphia Eagles are ending their 17-year training camp relationship with Lehigh University and hereafter will spend the dog days of July and August closer to home, at the NovaCare Complex in South Philly.
Football fans get it. That’s why Philadelphia Eagles President Don Smolenski and new head coach Chip Kelly weren’t raked over the coals by the Lehigh Valley faithful when the announcement was made Friday.
This decision is all about distance — and from a business standpoint, about consolidating operations that might make high-priced athletes happier and perhaps, just perhaps, result in an intangible uptick that helps the Birds during the regular season.
The fans get it, but make no mistake — a grand tradition of hometown familiarity is being lost here. There's an economic impact, but it's not just about the 10 to 20 percent bump that Bethlehem and Hellertown motels, bars and restaurants experienced during the three-week training camp.
Go ahead and laugh, but it seemed only fitting that a team decked out in midnight green would start each season in the verdant shadow of South Mountain. The setting at Lehigh was intimate, fan-friendly, intense, sometimes unpredictable in terms of weather and player dust-ups … and free. What else is there in professional sports — especially pro football, which charges season ticket holders for seat licenses and preseason games — that comes with the word “gratis”? As in, thank you for coming out and supporting us.
The distance factor will be a benefit for the Eagles organization but also for Philadelphia-area fans, who won’t have to make the turnpike or Route 309 commute to see preseason practices. But the distance will increase dramatically between player and observer when the Eagles conduct four or five public practices at Lincoln Financial Field this summer. Because of the limitations of the NovaCare Complex, practices there will be an invitation-only affair for a privileged few.
Again, the fans get it.
An entire generation of young Eagles fans has grown into adulthood with stories to tell: Donovan McNabb signed my shirt! We sat next to Hugh Douglas at Starters Pub. Merrill Reese looks different in person. We were there for the craziness in 2004, when Terrell Owens turned camp into the epicenter of the sports-celebrity universe.
It was energizing and relaxing at the same time. That was Andy Reid’s take on it, too. The former head coach loved the get-away atmosphere in Bethlehem, and he was no doubt the last link to this relationship.
Even with the Eagles’ flight, the Lehigh Valley is doing just fine by Philadelphia sports teams. The IronPigs are arguably the best Triple-A experience in baseball. The Phantoms, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Flyers, are scheduled to move into their new Allentown arena in 2014.
But it sure would have been fun to observe the dawn of the Chip Kelly era up close and personal.
Lehigh University will find another sports camp tenant. The Tally Ho and other local hot spots will still be grilling burgers and manning the taps. Plenty of Lehigh Valley fans will trek to the Linc for an Eagles practice and make a day of it — with maybe 50,000 other people sweating in a big bowl in a big city.
Not the same. Not by a long shot.