From Ball Carriage To Backstroke: DEBUNKING THE QB BALL LIFT MYTH

One of the benefits of living in a screen culture is the constant immediate access to photos and videos through a variety of electronic devices. This allows private quarterback coaches like myself to review and evaluate throwing mechanics, not only of the athletes we train, but also those of top-level professional and collegiate quarterbacks.

As a visual learner myself, I’m always reviewing photos and videos to gain a better perspective, insight and understanding on very detailed, specific mechanical efficiencies that makes the top tier QB’s the best in the world. And while I have my own non-negotiable beliefs on what proper throwing mechanics look like, photos and videos allow me to be a better coach by passing on the positive learning’s to our athletes (or by pointing out the negative counter-productive learning’s) to provided added value to our training program.

While privately training quarterbacks over the past several years and using photo and video analysis to provide our first-time QB’s with instant feedback during the evaluation session, what we’ve found is that the common variable among most of them is their release point. Photo after photo shows an ideal over-the-top arm slot. Quarterbacks understand this concept. It’s easy to grasp so they practice it, they self-teach it. Youth coaches with the most elementary knowledge of QB mechanics understand proper release point so they even start teaching it to young QB’s. But how the QB got to that ideal release point is critical to determining greater power and velocity on the throw, which can ultimately determine a great quarterback from a good one.

Power, defined in the scientific sense through physics, is “the rate of doing work.” Or, “the rate which energy is consumed.” What that basically means is the most amount of force generated in the least amount of time produces the most power. When training our Next Level QB’s, we tell them that generating power is much more about physics than physical strength. If the latter were true, then linemen benching 225 lbs. 30+ times at the NFL Combine would be the hardest and farthest throwers. But we all know that’s not the reality.

This article discusses the very critical variable needed to achieving maximum power, velocity and force on the throw – the backstroke (or load position, as it’s referred to by some coaches). It’s also aimed to point out the biggest mechanical must-not - ball lifting - which robs the QB of critical energy needed to create power. 

footballers2.jpg

BALL CARRIAGE

In order to properly address the backstroke function, we have to first discuss the importance of ball carriage. The position of the ball pre-pass is one of the most important variables to achieving a proper backstroke during the throwing process. Therefore, the way you position the football in the ball carriage is non-negotiable.  

The ball should be positioned at chest level, right in front of the sternum. It’s the ideal position that allows our QB’s to achieve opposite equal arm positioning during the separation phase from the pre-pass ball carriage. An additional benefit to holding the ball in this area is that it allows the elbows to point downward and relaxed. This then allows the trapezius muscles to be relaxed, which is exactly what we want for the QB. Higher, outward pointed elbows unnecessarily fires the traps early. We'd never want our QB's to fire muscles early before they are needed.  

 

BALL LIFTING

Before we can discuss the critically important backstroke (or loading phase), we must first address the myth behind the “benefits” of ball lifting. First, let’s explain what ball lifting is. Ball lifting is the process of taking the ball from the pre-pass ball carriage and pushing it upward into the 90-degree vertical L position. It promotes a lifting motion, completely eliminating any type of loading or backstroke phase.

As someone who attends some of the main coaching clinics during the off-season, I am continuously alarmed at the lack of awareness from coaches at the youth and High School levels who have been unknowingly duped into thinking this is the correct throwing mechanic for a Quarterback.

The selling point behind this myth is that the ball gets out of the hands of the QB faster… that he has a “quicker release” when ball lifting. But what that coach doesn’t realize it is ball lifting robs the QB of critically important energy that’s created to drive power on the ball, which ultimately equates to added velocity on the ball.

When thinking about the actual process of throwing the football, we have to understand that power on the throw is generated from a rotational movement of hips, core, torso and shoulders. The mechanics behind it are much like swinging a baseball bat, a tennis racket or a golf club. Let’s use golf as an example because, in my experience, many QB’s have fundamentally sound golf swings.       

If a golfer stood at the tee box and brought his driver up to hip level, then swung down on the ball, how much energy would he generate by the time the head of club struck the ball? The club head works in a circular motion around a center point – the sternum. Without that circular motion being created by bringing the club head back above his shoulder during the takeaway and backstroke, the golfer has limited power on his swing. That’s exactly what we’re taking about with ball lifting the football. 

If your private QB coach tells you to lift the ball and throw it like a dart toward a dart board, you may want to re-evaluate your options. 

IMG_8064.jpg

BACKSTROKE 

During the separation phase from the pre-pass ball carriage, the shoulder joint acts like a hinge, allowing the elbow to travel backward and the throwing hand to travel on the chest line. This is the natural backstroke motion, critical to generating proper energy needed for power on the ball. The arm should remain compact and tight to the body when creating this movement. At Next Level, we call this the Horizontal 90. It’s a 90-degree position of the arm right along the chest line. The above image of former Cal and current LA Ram QB Jared Goff is the identical position we want our Quarterbacks to get to prior to the 90-degree vertical L position. As we discussed above, without the backstroke or loading movement occurring, the QB is simply lifting and pushing the ball. 

 

CONCLUSION

Throwing the football properly is one of the most difficult and complex mechanics in any sport. But fundamental scientific certainties like the backstroke allow Quarterbacks to understand how to throw with more power and repeatable success.    

Next Level QB Jaylon Banks Snags La Tech Offer

Credits  Better Feet To Off-Season Improvement

Posted on April 7, 2016 by The Playbook

Jaylon Banks trains during a winter group session in December at Next Level Athletix in Chicago 

Jaylon Banks trains during a winter group session in December at Next Level Athletix in Chicago 

Congratulations to Next Level Athletix 2017 QB Jaylon Banks from Oswego, IL. Banks announced today that he has been offered a football scholarship from the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. We recently caught up with Banks at the Chicago Showcase, where he felt right at home doing what he enjoys best, spinning the ball. Banks was extremely impressive displaying great arm strength and effortlessly hitting his receivers deep. He credits his superior footwork to his QB instructor, Greg Holcomb founder of nxtlevelatx.com. Holcomb stated at the Chicago Showcase that Banks should do well this season on the camp circuit because of his great technique and his commitment to the position.

Banks reported on the Sound Mind Sound Body Talk Show this week that he will possibly attend three of their six city camp tours in Detroit, Houston and Atlanta. He said “it’s about competing outside of my city.” Keep your eyes on Jaylon Banks this summer and continue to follow him this season @JayAlpha15banks.

Follow @PlayBookAthlete

Contact: Joe Gladney

Cell: 404-388-6813

Websitewww.theplay-book.com

Email:  joe@theplay-book.com

Next Level Heading To LA Area For QB Complete Development Camp

For the third consecutive year Next Level Athletix is heading to Southern California.

The same QB training academy that launched the Rise & Fire National QB Campetition in Chicago will be working with Los Angeles area QB's on Saturday, January 21st on the campus of Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, CA.  

This is an invite-based training program for some of the top QB's in the graduating classes of 2020, 2019 & 2018. Wide Receivers wishing to attend the event DO NOT need to be invited, but should be either existing Varsity level athletes or the potential to start at the Varsity level.  

The camp is open to only 16 QB's and 25 WR's. All the camp information and registration is included on our Eventbrite page.  

1-On-1's This Week Under The Keen Eye Of Taylor Scouting

Next Level Group Training is a high energy, competitive training environment where High School-level QB's and Skill Position players learn critically important position-specific mechanics and techniques to instill confidence and gain maximum output on the field. And with the elite skill player talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, competitive 1-on-1's and half skeleton sessions allow our athletes to be more prepared than most athletes. 

RANDY TAYLOR SCOUTING
This Sunday Next Level Athletes will train and compete under the keen eye of Randy Taylor, Founder and CEO of Taylor Scouting, one of the more respected recruiting coordinator services in the country. Randy has over 30 years in the business and is an excellent resource to help athletes and parents understand the recruiting landscape, evaluation process and a transparent view into what lies ahead in the next 2, 3, 4 years.

ONLY HS ATHLETES ELIGIBLE THIS WEEK
While we will allow athletes in the classes of 2021 and 2022 train this Sunday, only those athletes in High School classes of 2020 and older will be able to compete in the last hour to hour and 15 minutes of the training. During that 2nd half of the session, Randy will be watching Next Level Athletes compete against one another in half skelly and 1-on-1's. And we only want to have our High School athletes participate. Youth QB's & skill players will receive a discount this week to account for the limited training time.

ONLY 15 HIGH SCHOOL QB'S THIS WEEK
To maintain a high coach to athlete ratio and to allow Randy to get a good view of all of our High School Quarterbacks, we are capping the Quarterback number this week at 15. QB's in the classes of 2020, 2019, 2018 & 2017 must RSVP by sending a text to 773-615-5060 or email to greg@nxtlevelatx.com to attend. We have already received RSVP's from our post on social media, so please reserve your slot right away.

WIN A FREE SEASON PASS TO TAYLOR SCOUTING
The coaches Next Level are very grateful to have the opportunity to coach, train and mentor the phenomenal young men who are a part of our program. So as a thank you to you the athletes, we will be giving a $100 scholarship to 1 athlete who will receive a single season pass to Randy Taylor Scouting.  

THE OFF-SEASON HAPPENS THIS WINTER IN MELROSE PARK, IL

High School QB & Skill Position Training At Leoni Indoor Complex

Elite Group Off-Season Development Training for QB's & Skill Position Players in the class of 2020 and up takes place this November through March in Melrose Park, IL.

Next Level Athletes will be training indoors on a full-size multi-purpose turf field at the Leoni Indoor Complex, just 30 minutes from downtown Chicago and 40 minutes from the Western and Northern Suburbs. Training takes place each Sunday from 1-3PM and the dates for each session are listed below.

Quarterbacks will train for only $50 and Skill Players for $10. Parents and athletes can expect a high coach to player ratio to get more personalized attention, resulting in accelerated mechanics and technique.

To register for QUARTERBACK training, click the button below to be taken to our Bookacoach microsite. QB's can pay and schedule training right there. And, you can pay for up to 10 training sessions in advance and receive an 11th session for FREE.

Skill position athletes can simply bring $10 to each training session.

TRAINING DATES: Nov 15, Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 13, Dec 20, Dec 27, Jan 3, Jan 10, Jan 17, Jan 24, Feb 7, Feb 14, Feb 21, March 6, March 13 & March 20. No training on Dec 6, January 31 (Next Level West Camp in LA) and February 28.

HUNTING SEASON: NEXT LEVEL 2017 QB JEREMY HUNT MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF

September 9, 2015

EDGYTIM
EdgyTim.com Publisher

Oak Park (Ill.) River Forest junior quarterback prospect Jeremy Hunt (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) is making quite an impression so far this season in leading the Huskies (2-0) to a terrific start. Get to know yet another Prospect to Watch here.

"This is my first year as a starter at the varsity level," Hunt said. "It took me a few plays in the first game before I felt comfortable out there. It seemed like once I got into the flow of the game it all started to click and it's been going well so far this season. It's been pretty exciting."

Hunt, a three sport athlete (football baseball basketball) at Oak Park-River Forest talked about his latest recruiting news.

"I still haven't heard too much from schools for now and I plan to get some of my video out soon. My dream schools would be either Ohio State or Michigan State. I just always loved Ohio State going back to when I was a little kid. I was able to visit Michigan State this past summer with my 7on7 team. I saw the campus and the facilities at Michigan State and it was just really impressive."

Hunt also talked about what he feels he does well and what area's he needs to improve upon.

"I think that I throw it pretty well. I can make good reads and I also can read opposing defenses pretty well. I try to be smart with the football and take pride in making the right decisions. I worked hard this off season on improving my accuracy, footwork and just getting stronger. I'm just planning to improve my overall game this off season."

EDGY's Take on Jeremy Hunt: A kid who I saw on film this summer working with QB Coach Greg Holcomb and Next Level Athletix. Great physical tools and size and has the look and feel of a kid who could wind up being a major level recruit. I'm very excited to see where things go with Hunt over the next few months and wouldn't be shocked to see him start to add offers sooner rather than later.

Quarterback Resilience

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out. Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn't worth it to try and retrieve the donkey. So the farmer asked his neighbors to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening he cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down and let out some happy brays. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well to see what was happening and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up. (Shifting)

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, to everyone's amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

The moral is one that every quarterback can relate to. The game is going to shovel dirt on you at some point. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Every adversity can be turned into a stepping-stone for success. The way to get out of the deepest well is by never giving up, but also by shaking yourself off and taking a step up.

What happens to you isn't nearly as important as how you react to it. Elite 11 Head Coach Trent Dilfer calls this P.A.C.E. – Plays After Critical Errors. The contemporary term and definition for this is called Bounce Back Ability – the ability to recover after a setback. A more simple word for this is resilience.

For a quarterback, resiliency and the ability to bounce back from critical errors is one of the most important components to success at the position. A successful quarterback doesn’t dwell on failures. He accepts and acknowledges the situation, learns from the mistake, and moves forward.

#RiseAndFire Skills Camp

Next Level Athletix, Inc. Founder Greg Holcomb will head up a top-level staff of position coaches at the first annual #RiseAndFire Skills Camp, June 27-28 at West Chicago High School, just outside Chicago, Iiinois. Athletes will receive best-in-class instruction from a group of coaches with playing and coaching experience at the NFL level through the High School level.

The weekend is designed to break the mold of the current "camp" structure. Our coaching staff will be providing realistic, game-like training to prepare our athletes for realistic, game-like scenarios. Our approach to training will provide our QB's and skill position players with a transformative experience designed to help them flourish this Fall in their own competitive environments.

Cost: $99 for Saturday and Sunday / $75 Saturday Only / $50 Sunday Only

When: Saturday, June 27th 9AM-3PM and Sunday, June 28th 9AM-12PM

Schedule:

  • Saturday, 8-9AM: Check-In: Receive dri-fit camp shirt and other gear
    • 8-8:15AM: QB Check-In
    • 8:15-8:30AM: WR/TE/RB Check-In
    • 8:30-8:45AM: DB/LB Check-In
  • Saturday, 8:45-9AM: Camp Warm-Up with Coach Kareem Timbers
  • Saturday, 9AM-12PM: Session #1
  • Saturday, 12-12:30PM: Lunch (provided by Jimmy John's)
  • Saturday, 12:30-3PM: Session #2
  • Sunday, 9AM-12PM: Session #3

Where: West Chicago High School, 326 Joliet Rd, West Chicago, Illinois

Good Friday QB & WR Training In Milwaukee

Next Level Athletix is conducting a QB & WR training session for HIGH SCHOOL level athletes in the Milwaukee area. The training will take place at the indoor Brookfield Soccer Park on April 3rd for the Good Friday holiday. There will be a limited number of QB sports available (7). We want to provide the most high quality and personal instruction in the 2 hour span so only a select number of spots will be allowed. The Wide Receiver slots will be limited to 25.