How To Play Quarterback In Football

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: February 12, 2024

The quarterback position is one of the unique positions in all sports. They start the play on offense, command the game, and often distinguish between teams winning and losing.

However, not everyone can play quarterback. The position is challenging at youth, high school, college, and professional levels.

This article will show you everything you need to know about playing the quarterback position.

How Do You Become A Quarterback In Football?

If you’re starting football or have been playing it for years, becoming a good quarterback can be challenging for any tenured player.

There are certain qualities that a quarterback must possess to make the offense run smoothly.

These are the qualities that every good quarterback possesses before touching the field.

Memorize The Playbook

First, the quarterback must know everything about the playbook.

On run plays, the quarterback must know who gets the football and the proper footwork to get them the football.

On pass plays, the quarterback must know who to throw to, when to throw it, have the arm strength and accuracy to throw the football to the receiver, and have the pocket presence not to be scared when defensive players are running toward them.

Becoming a good quarterback requires a good grasp of the playbook, often knowing what every other player is doing and their duties. Read here if you want to learn how NFL players learn the playbook.

Build Confidence Of Others

If you’re able to show your coach that you can memorize the playbook, the next step is to build confidence from your teammates.

When you’re playing quarterback, you want to ensure that the other ten players think that you are good at what you’re doing.

We recommend studying the playbook and doing everything the coach asks you to do to build confidence. The best quarterbacks are mini-coaches on the field.

In addition, they help encourage other players and encourage them for every run, catch or block they make.

Quarterbacks who are optimistic are far better than those who are consistently negative.

Throw Accurately

Another trait of a good quarterback is throwing the ball accurately. This means short as well as deep passes. Quarterbacks who are constantly careless with the football and cause turnovers will often cost their team the game.

We’ll have drills for you later in this email, but a common theme for good quarterbacks is the ability to throw the ball to another player successfully.

Command a Huddle

Good quarterbacks can command any huddle that they’re in. What does that mean?

Commanding a huddle means that the other players are attentive when you’re speaking. They are not distracted by anything other than the quarterback talking.

The ability to command a huddle plays a significant role in earning other players’ trust.

How To Train To Be A Quarterback

If you want to train to be a quarterback, there are many steps that you need to take. Understand that becoming a good quarterback takes time, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Learn The Playbook

As we previously mentioned, all quarterbacks must know the playbook in and out. We can’t stress this enough because the quarterback’s wrong step or turn can mess the entire play up.

Quarterbacks should know what they’re doing each play and their lineman, running backs, and wide receivers. If anyone has any questions on the field, the quarterback can answer them.

Remember, a quarterback is essentially like having another coach on the field. If a player doesn’t know what they’re doing, you can’t run the play and hope for the best.

Helping each player understand their duty is a large part of playing quarterback.

Learn How To Take A Snap From The Center

After learning the playbook, the next step is taking a snap from the center. This is how a play starts, and the last thing you want is to mishandle a snap.

If you take a snap from the center, there are a few key points.

First, the back of your palms should touch with your hand wide open. It’s essential to make sure your hands are tight together; the ball doesn’t go through when the center snaps the football.

Learn the cadence from your coach. Make sure that you yell out the cadence loud and clear when you yell out the cadence. Imagine thousands of people in the stands and the wide receivers standing 20 yards away from you need to hear it.

Once the ball is snapped, firmly grasp your hands around the ball, and continue to start the play.

If you’re a quarterback taking a snap from shotgun (from a distance), focus on catching the ball from the center. We recommend taking 100+ snaps a day from the center. That way, you can properly catch the ball and start the play.

Uncover your opponent’s offensive and defensive tendencies so you can easily build a game plan.

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  • How to save time in your weekly breakdowns

How To Take a Drop As A Quarterback

Once the quarterback receives the ball, and it’s a run play, they will hand it off.

If it’s a pass play, the quarterback must get away from the line of scrimmage where the other lineman is.

The separation steps from the offensive lineman are known as a “drop.”

Football coaches will have different drops for the quarterback depending on the offensive system.

The most common drops are 3, 5, and 7 step drops. These drops are often timed up to the routes that are being run.

Three-step drops are often for quick, under-center throws. Five-step drops are for intermediate, downfield throws. Seven-step drops are for deeper throws, which require time to develop and allow the receiver to get to a landmark.

We recommend practicing all 3 of the drops so you can execute them when the coach asks.

How To Throw The Football

Throwing a football is one of the most challenging tasks for a quarterback. Unlike a baseball, the football is oval-shaped.

It has eight laces on it, which require the hands to be positioned a certain way to obtain a spiral.

Whether you’re a youth, high school, college, or NFL quarterback, the mechanics in throwing a football are relatively the same. The only thing that changes is the size of the football.

Throwing a football requires flawless mechanics. It’s not about being big or strong. The quarterback must generate power from his lower body to throw the football accurately and farther downfield. Let’s learn more.

First, position your legs to be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Unlike sports like baseball, there is no mound to push off of. The quarterback must generate power from a flat surface.

The weight should be evenly distributed between the two feet, with the player comfortably standing on the ball of each foot.

Next, the ball should be higher than chest level. You don’t want the football to be above the shoulder because you will lose power when you throw. We’ll explain more in just a second.

Take a 6-inch step toward the target when you’re ready to throw. That is all you’ll need to generate enough power from your hips. If the stride is too big, you will lose power, and your throw will often sail high.

As your hands break apart, you want your elbow to come back and make the letter “L,” or 90 degrees.

Start to bring your arm forward, led by the elbow. This will cause a “whip” motion with the arm. This whip motion is what causes the football to generate power.

Aim toward your target and throw the football to them. It’s essential to make sure your hand rolls over the football. Your index finger should be the last finger that leaves the football.

It should rotate externally and finish across your body in your opposite pocket.

Repeat this process several times until you successfully throw the football with a spiral and with less effort.

How To Be A More Accurate Quarterback

Once you’ve got the mechanics of how to throw a football down, now you need to perfect your throwing motion.

To become a more accurate quarterback, we recommend starting with stationary targets. Use nets, trash cans, or any target that you may have around your house.

Get a feel for the football, and understand how much power you need to throw it a certain length.

Once you start throwing to a stationary target, we recommend moving targets.

Being a more accurate quarterback relies on rhythmic timing to your receivers. Consistently meet with your receivers and throw different routes to them.

This will help you understand their timing and breakpoints, so you can deliver the football to them as they break away from the defender.

Is It Hard To Play Quarterback?

Yes. It is tough to play quarterback. Out of all the positions on the football field, it is the hardest to play at any level. This is why quarterbacks in the NFL are the highest paid, and college quarterbacks are the most sought after.

Quarterbacks require mental discipline as well as the ability to process information quickly. Quarterbacks who panic or are scared of contact will often be pressured by the opposing team at a high rate.

There is the most pressure on a quarterback to throw the ball to the correct player and hand it off to the right player. If you don’t handle stress well, we recommend playing another position.

Attitude Of a Quarterback

To be a good quarterback, the quarterback must have a positive attitude with a short memory.

A positive attitude encourages other players to keep moving on, even when bad things happen. Football is a chaotic sport. Football players must be calm and collective amidst all of the chaos.

Quarterbacks, in particular, shouldn’t panic when things don’t go their way.

If the quarterback throws an interception, the quarterback should have a short memory. Dwelling on bad plays will only make things worse. It’s important to forget about the bad plays and move forward with the plays that are about to happen.

Learn More

We’ve created a course designed specifically for playing quarterback. Our Quarterback University course is great for those looking to master the position.

Learn more about the quarterback position by reading the articles below.

How To Play Quarterback In Football

Why Quarterbacks Slide When They Run

Why Does The Quarterback Lift His Leg?

Quarterback Drops: 3,5,7 Step and Quick Game

Quarterback Communication Before The Ball Is Snapped

The quarterback position is one of the most challenging positions to play in football.

It requires poise, knowledge of the entire playbook, and the ability to accurately throw the ball to wide receivers.

Now that you’ve learned the quarterback position, we recommend learning other positions such as running back, wide receiver, and offensive line.

If you’re looking to learn more about the game of football, we recommend you check out our learning center for more football-related content.

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.