Baseball Magazine

Training with a Football

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Ever wonder why you never hear of an NFL quarterback needing Tommy John surgery?  How is it that a veteran quarterback can throw a football every day of their lives and never develop an arm injury?  They throw overhand like baseball pitchers and the ball they throw is heavier than a baseball too.  You’d think they would have similar arm troubles but usually that isn’t the case.  Why do you think that is?

I have a non-scientific hunch for this as well as some thoughts on using a football as a training tool for baseball players.  Below is a photo of Peyton Manning at the beginning of his throwing motion.  Take a look.



Now let me point out some details that I see.

  • When his hands break, both thumbs are down.  Something all baseball players should do when they separate their hands at the beginning of the throwing process.
  • His tricep faces the target.  It’s not enough to just point your elbow at the target.  Turning a little more so that your lead tricep is facing the target will give a player more to rotate with on the throw.
  • His fingers on the ball are NOT, let me repeat NOT, facing straight back behind him.  They point to the side
    Not a fan of this at all

    Not a fan of this at all

    (facing the camera).  I may be in the minority on this one but I do not believe it is a good idea to emphasize to baseball throwers (mostly pitchers) to point their fingers back towards second base when they set up to throw. The photo to the right shows what I’m talking about.  I don’t think this is the natural way to throw.  My hunch is this is one variable that is related to the amount of arm injuries in baseball. 

  • Manning’s throwing hand DOES NOT go above his shoulder until AFTER he starts forward with the throw.  This is also related to the 2nd photo.  I think it is wrong to emphasize getting the hand/ball up above the shoulder BEFORE the player opens to throw.  It’s not the natural way.  I think this is also related to baseball arm injuries in pitchers since we don’t tend to teach this nearly as much to position players – who incidently don’t seem to need Tommy John surgery either.

Using a football in a throwing drill has value because it works some of the basic mechanics of throwing a baseball.  It’s not a perfect match but in my opinion, if it is used for the right reason, it has enough value to be used every now and then to help players get loose and/or to focus on some mechanical parts to throwing.

Tomorrow’s post: Score on a ground ball

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