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Football: Throwing the Ball

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Throwing a football can be a bit different from throwing other types of balls. The football is shaped different and requires a certain grip and throwing motion. You want to learn to throw the ball in a tight spiral so that it will cut through the wind and fly straight and true to your target.

How to Grip the Ball

The first step in throwing a football is to use the proper grip. We'll give you an example of a good grip to use. You can use this to start out and see how it works for you. You may find that changing it slightly feels better in your hands. This is okay. Find a grip that works for you and then keep it consistent.

Football throwing grip
Photo by Ducksters

Above is a picture of a good grip to use. First your hand should be on one end of the football, not in the middle. Your thumb and index finger will form a "C" around the end, in front of the laces. The tips of your next two fingers should be on the first two laces. Finally, your pinky finger should be some where just below the laces a bit spread out from your ring finger.

The ball should be gripped with your fingers, never the palm of you hand. When gripping the ball there should be space between your palm and the ball.


When you throw the ball you need to have good balance. Throwing off of one foot or off balance can lead to inaccuracy and interceptions. So first, get your balance with your feet spread out a little more than the width of your shoulders and your weight on the balls of your feet.

One foot should be in front of the other (the left foot is in front for right handed throwers). The same shoulder (the left for right handed thrower) should be pointed toward your target. As you start your throw your weight should be on your back foot. During your throw your weight will transfer to your front foot. This will give you power and accuracy.

Holding the Ball

Before you throw the ball you should have it in both hands. This way you will be able to hold onto it if you get hit.

The ball should also be held high, about shoulder level. This way the ball is ready to throw as soon as the receiver is open. Always practice throwing this way so it becomes a habit.

Throwing Motion

Player throwing a pass
Source: US Navy
When you throw the ball step forward and transfer your weight from your back foot to the front as you throw. This is called "stepping into the throw".

Your elbow should be cocked with your elbow pointing at your target. Throw the ball using a half circle motion. Be sure to go "over the top" and not side arm. This will give you power and accuracy. Rotate your back shoulder towards the target as you throw the ball. Release the ball when your elbow is fully extended.

Follow Through

Football throwing follow through
Source: US Navy
After you release the ball, continue with your follow through. Snap your wrist towards the target and then to the ground. The last part of your hand to touch the ball should be your index finger. Your body should continue to follow through as well with your far shoulder pointing at the target and your back foot lifting off the ground as you step towards your target.


As you get the hang of throwing a football, it should start to spin or spiral. This is important to get the ball to fly true and accurate. It also makes the ball easier to catch.

More Football Links:

Football Rules
Football Scoring
Timing and the Clock
The Football Down
The Field
Referee Signals
Football Officials
Violations that Occur Pre-Snap
Violations During Play
Rules for Player Safety
Player Positions
Running Back
Offensive Line
Defensive Line
The Secondary
Football Strategy
Offense Basics
Offensive Formations
Passing Routes
Defense Basics
Defensive Formations
Special Teams

How to...
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Throwing a Football
How to Punt a Football
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