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Gripping the Ball

The passing grip that is used by each quarterback will vary slightly from player to player, usually relating to the size of the quarterback's hands. The larger the hand of the player, the farther back from midpoint that he can grip the ball. Most beginning quarterbacks should start with a grip that is near the center of the ball.

When learning to grip the ball correctly, the quarterback should start with the index finger near the tip of the ball, across the seam, and slightly off the laces. If the quarterback has extremely big hands, the index finger can be closer to the tip of the ball than it is to the laces.

The middle and third fingers should extend across the laces so that the fingertips rest on the surface of the ball and not on the laces; the tip of the little finger will usually rest on the laces, with the hand pressure exerted just behind the center point of the ball. It is very important that the quarterback feels that he has the ball completely under control in his hand. The non-passing hand should rest lightly on the underside of the ball, insuring that the player has the ball firmly in his grasp.

When learning the proper grip, it is best for a young quarterback to start with a coach, kneeling, handing the ball up to him. As the quarterback feels the ball make contact with his hands, he should automatically learn to adjust so that his passing hand is in the proper position on the ball. A center can be added to the practice, taking the place of the coach, whenever the coach feels that the quarterback is ready.

From his kneeling position the coach should concentrate on the hands of the quarterback, making certain that the grip is correct and that the quarterback has complete control of the ball, cradling it securely in both hands as he moves.

So the quarterback learns to adjust the ball as he moves into position to pass, the quarterback should accept the ball from the coach and then sprint back five steps from the line of scrimmage. Remember, we are teaching the proper grip to the quarterback, so do not simultaneously work on setting up or passing the ball.

Play Football The NFL Way is the ultimate football manual for coaches and beginning players who want to learn the basics of football correctly. Author Tom Bass is a former NFL coach with more than 20 years of experience with the Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaners.

For a personalized autographed copy of Play Football the NFL Way, plus information on the new Coach Bass Sport Maps - football guides that aid in watching and enjoying college and professional football, please visit

For information on Coach Bass' In-Depth Coaching Clinics go to 






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