How to Throw a Football (for starters)

Anyone can throw a football. However, in order to get the ball to land precisely, you need to understand some important fundamentals.

In this article, we will discuss various tips on how to throw a football.

Throwing Football Mechanics 

Proper grip is what you will need in order to make a good throw. Start by gripping the ball with your fingertips while placing your ring finger directly on the second lace and your pinkie finger on the fifth one.

Place your index finger parallel to the seam and close to the ball’s tip, and put your middle finger parallel to or on the white strip.

Although the grip will depend on the size of your hand, it’s important to ensure that there is adequate room between the ball and your hand’s palm.

Once you have a proper grip, the next step is to prepare to throw.

Hold the ball with your hands at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground and its outer tip pointed down.

With your weight on your back foot, take the ball high to your ear level so that your throwing arm forms an ‘’L’’ shape and your elbows squeeze in to form a triangle.

With your back hunched, bend your knees slightly, and take two steps back while maintaining your stance.

When it is time to deliver the ball, shift the weight to your front foot to help you launch it powerfully.

As your body rotates, swing your throwing arm forward, drop your front shoulder, and place the ball above your head.

Step forward with your non-dominant foot and release the ball off your index finger with the thumb of your throwing hand pointing downwards.


Throw the ball midway through a half-circular motion as your throwing arm swings forward.

The palm of your non-throwing hand should be facing away from you, and it should be placed towards your non-dominant hip.

Your non-dominant elbow should then point down towards your back as you move forward with your non-dominant leg.

While releasing the ball, let it roll off your fingers, beginning with your pinkie finger to your index finger.

Your index finger should always point towards the target for a perfect spin. 

Make use of the laces to roll your fingers, and spin the ball for a spiral. Snapping your wrist forward will provide the spin.

The important step in throwing a spiral is the follow through to avoid a wobbly toss.

Therefore, every time you throw a football, make sure you follow through by rotating your throwing thumb towards the thigh of your leg.

You can also prevent the ball from wobbling by lifting the heel of your throwing hand and letting your index finger be the last finger to touch the ball.

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Throwing a Spiral

When preparing to throw, use the proper motion and maintain a solid grip on the ball. Your forearm should be at a right angle, and your upper arm should be in perpendicular to your body.

Using your body parts appropriately will enable you to maintain a proper throwing notion. Your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle when you cock the ball backwards to throw it.

It is also important to position your body, most especially, your feet, correctly.

While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and distribute your weight on the back heel for more power to throw.

It is also good to stand sideways and ensure that you are not flat-footed when throwing the ball.

Ensure that the foot opposite the dominant arm is forward and pointing to the direction where you will be throwing.

Learn the techniques of throwing the ball correctly because releasing it too late will cause to land on the ground while throwing it too high will make the ball wobble.

As you prepare to throw, push your hand forward and spin the ball in order to throw spirals. This will push the ball straight ahead where you want it to land.

How to Improve Spirals

You can improve your spirals by doing a lot of practice. Learning how to complete all the mechanics of the throwing football is important for a successful spiral action.

Practice will not only enable you to throw the ball perfectly but also in a smooth motion. Persistent practice will also be helpful to improve your stance, grip, distance, and accuracy.

You can get the right mechanics of the spiral by practicing to throw short distances.

Short distances like 10-15 yards will enable you to improve your mechanics for throwing spirals at a far distance.

This is especially important if you are just starting out as it will help you build your strength gradually.

When you master the skill of throwing accurate and tight short passes, you would have the strength to throw at a far distance.

Before you throw, it is important to work out and stretch your tight muscles.

Stretch your back, chest, upper back, and shoulders as this is likely to improve the quality of your spirals. 

Similarly, take time to strengthen your upper body muscles such as your triceps, biceps, forearms, and pectoral muscles before throwing a football.

Lastly, take time to work on your follow through. This is important in order to prevent the ball from going on a deep pass.

You should also know how to step through the throw in order to make a good deep ball spiral.

Besides, you can make a perfect spiral on long yards by leaving some space between the palm of your hand and the ball.

Attempting Hail Mary Passes

Hail Mary is a long-range pass that is thrown in order to help the offensive team gain several yards.

This high-risk pass can be thrown when the team has little playing time and has the potential of scoring in order to prevent overtime.

You can also throw the Hail Mary if you possess the ball and you have to finish the fourth-down play or when you are far from the end zone and it’s your last play.

When preparing to throw, grip the football with your index, pinkie, and ring fingers, and ensure that they lay comfortably over the ball’s laces.

Bend your knees slightly, and drop your back in cases where you will need to wait longer to pass the ball.

Keep your foot pointed forward and your face 90 degrees away from the target.

Bring the ball high and near your ear as you get ready to throw it. Before you throw the ball, move some few steps backwards.

This will give you great momentum as you position yourself to move forward.

As you start to throw the ball, slightly lean backwards, wind back your throwing arm, and release your non-throwing hand away from the ball.

As you throw the football, lean forward and rotate your shoulders and hips.

All these movements will increase your momentum on the ball, and this will enable it to move high and fast.

Follow through so that the ball does not wobble as this may intercept the Hail Mary, and the ball may end up with the tackler.

You can also arc the ball over your head by realizing it a split-second earlier so that it can reach your receivers hands.

Attempting Bullet Passes

A bullet pass is a short-range pass that is thrown to make the ball have a flat arc and travel as fast as possible, making it hard to intercept.

Bullets are high-speed passes, and they are thrown during quick plays, for instance, when you need to pass the ball to the defender so that it reaches the receiver.

A bullet pass can be attempted when you want to score a touchdown on the goal line play or gain several yards.

It can also be useful for passing the ball to a fast and open player.

Take the passing stance by gripping the ball with your fingers that lay comfortably over the laces of the ball.

Let your forward foot point forward, the throwing hand away from your receiver and your face 90 degrees from him.

Since you want to make a quick throw, do not drop back very far like when making a Hail Mary pass.

As you start to throw the ball, step forward and keep your knees a little bent. Stepping forward will give great momentum on the throw, making it travel fast.

Do not cock your arm at the back of your head as you would during a Hail Mary pass. Rather, it should be at the side of your head to avoid sending it too high.

The bullet pass should be short and powerful, and it should have a controlled arc so that it can fly as fast as possible.

When throwing the ball, push your arm forward and release it a split-second later so as to get a flat arc.

If the motion is not powerful enough, it will be unlikely for the ball to reach the receiver quickly as possible.

Follow through the bullet pass by keeping your hips and shoulders normal to avoid wobbling of the ball.

Release the football with your fingertips to create a spiral effect. However, unlike other passes, the bullet pass requires you to do a slight rotation in order to make it quicker and tighter.

Throwing a Football When Being Tackled

Know your field position because this will determine where you will throw the ball, and this will also help you avoid an illegal pass.

When inside the pocket formed by your tackles, you will be required to throw the ball within that pocket.

Otherwise, you might get an intentional ground penalty.

On the other hand, being outside the pocket allows you to throw the ball away in order to avoid a sack without being penalized.

Choose your options wisely. For instance, if you are being sacked, opt to throw the ball.

You may also opt to run with the ball and dodge the tacklers in order to gain yards.

If there is no opening, run on the side of the field or pass the ball to a player who is behind or sideways as passing forward is illegal, and it may attract penalty.

Keep your arms high and free so that the tackler will grab your lower body.

Although it will be difficult to maneuver when your lower body is grabbed, it will be easy for you to throw the ball in this position.

Besides, it will be difficult to throw the ball if your arms are wrapped and you risk letting the ball slip off your hands.

If you are throwing while being tackled, put all your focus on the receiver that is open.

If there are no open receivers, you can choose an incomplete pass where the football is blocked by the defender’s body. 

This is a great option as long as it is not caught by the tackler.

Initiate a pass as fast as possible by bringing your hands forward. When throwing a football, the pass begins as soon as the passer starts to bring the hands forward.

The sooner you act, the higher your chances of passing the ball before being attacked. This will result in an incomplete pass without losing yards.

If you cannot initiate the pass quickly or maneuver with the ball when being tackled, consider using your body and strength to gain momentum.

Use any of your free body parts to your advantage. For instance, if the tackler has not held your shoulders, roll it through the pass or use your free leg to step in the pass.

Check out: Best football helmets


Mastering the right techniques of throwing a football will push the ball forward so that it lands more accurately.

Besides, when you understand the right mechanics of how to throw a football, you will greatly reduce the risks of being injured.

As you understand the basic techniques, you should familiarize yourself with the Hail Mary and the bullet passes, and know when to attempt them. Knowing how to improve your spirals and release the football properly are just as important.