How to Throw a Football Like a Pro

Follow these pointers from the Russell Wilson Passing Academy to improve your throwing skills.


Everyone good at anything has a style. Style transforms an ordinary ability into an extraordinary one, and great style defines exceptional athletes. But even the most talented athletes employ basic principles, and professional quarterbacks are no different.

Learning to throw a football well begins with two fundamental skills: grip and stance. At the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, youth players of all skill levels learn how to play the game and how to develop themselves as individuals. Former pro player Jake Heaps is the academy’s head coach, and the following are his insights into how to grip the football, and how to position your body for maximum impact.

Football Gripping Principles

A quarterback’s grip on the football is often as unique as their signature or their fingerprints. Regardless of their grip style, there are three unbreakable rules that they follow. These requirements are the hand’s position on the ball, the hand’s contact with the ball, and the location of the thumb. The GST Prime, the world’s #1 selling game ball, actually has additional grip points, so you can worry less about your hand placement and more about getting the ball released quickly. Here’s what Jake explains:

1. Hand Position on the Football

However tempting it may be to hold the ball in the center, resist the allure and hold the ball with your index finger at the top. This hand position allows you to control the spin on release and provides the most accurate aim as the ball leaves your hand.

2. Hand Contact With the Ball

It also may feel natural to hold the ball with the palm of your hand, but that much contact crowds the ball and reduces accuracy upon release. Contact with the football should be limited to the fingertip and the first joint. Maintaining a light touch increases snap speed, promotes a clean spiral, and uses less energy. How do you measure your pass quality?

3. Location of the Thumb

The hand forms a natural “V” shape when gripping a football. Using the base of the forefinger as a guide, open the thumb position to form an L, keeping it below the knuckle. This thumb position drives the strength back to the index finger at the top of the ball. Additionally, it extends your hand around the football to give a more secure hold.

Watch as Jake demonstrates these three non-negotiable principles of football grip.


Football Stance Principles

Employing good form in any sport increases enjoyment because it feels comfortable and helps prevent injury. Using your body efficiently to get the job done means that you achieve the best results with minimal effort. The upper body and lower body work together from the ground up and maximize a quarterback’s power and accuracy. Here’s how:

1. Establish Your Base

Set your feet apart comfortably, one inch wider than your shoulders and hips. This foot position establishes a stable base.

2. Loosen Your Knees

Don’t lock your knees. Instead, keep them slightly bent and flexible. Both your base position and your knees shouldn’t reduce your height.

3. Concentrate Your Weight

If you are right-handed, your right foot will be at the back of your base, and vice versa for left-handed quarterbacks. Concentrate your weight in the dominant half of your body. By distributing your weight this way, you will free up your front foot to make a quick short stride forward on your throw.

4. Use Your Hips

When you begin your pass, rotating your hips with the throw transfers the lower-body power to the upper body.

5. Keep the Ball at Ninety Degrees

As you begin your pass, pull the ball back at a ninety-degree angle, meaning that your upper and lower arm makes an L. Keep the ball below the shoulder, then raise your arm up and forward, keeping the L, and release.

Watch how Jake puts it all together seamlessly.


As a bonus, here is a pocket awareness drill that Russell Wilson often uses to help him keep his eyes down the field and avoid pocket pressure. This information is a valuable tool for any quarterback that you can practice at home.


Wilson is proud to be the official ball of the Russell Wilson Passing Academy and the NFL. Check back often to see more pro tips and behind-the-scenes content.



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