I had a good conversation today with a client of mine about the pace of the game and being in control of it as a quarterback. pre and post snap. Often I find myself urging quarterbacks of all levels to slow down. It's not that a quick drop isn't a good thing, it's that you always need a level of control in your drop in order to throw immediately off your fifth step and also at any point in between for hot throws or unexpected throws that weren't initially expected. Too much momentum can make this impossible.
There are a few key points that go along with dropping back quickly but under control. Here are a few that come to mind for those that are just getting used to a five step drop and the idea of throwing off your fifth step without a gather step or hitch step.
1. One is that often times a quarterbacks steps are much too big in their 5 step drop, especially their last two steps (4 and 5), but including their 2nd and 3rd as well. The fact of the matter is that the QB position is one of control and timing more than it is about speed, especially in the pass game, and big steps are more difficult to control than smaller steps. For that reason you want to start with big steps and end with smaller steps. I usually teach a very big first push step, followed by two medium depth steps, followed by two gather steps. This will allow you to be on balance by the end of the fifth step.
2. Two is that there is a weight transfer happening during the drop. In the beginning (similar to a runner) your upper bodies weight is leaning in the direction you are going. But later your feet pass your upper body in order to stop your momentum. Picture a pendulum of a grandfather clock moving from left to right. The lean is shifting.
3. The third thing is that what may appear to be quarterbacks throwing simultaneously off their last step is more accurately a QB throwing right after his last step plants. There is a push from there to start the throwing mechanics. So if you are having trouble throwing directly off your fifth step it helps to split up the two actions. First drop and end your drop balanced with no hitch up. Then pause and throw when ready. From there it is only a matter of shortening your pause between the two actions. The whole trick is to be in total control and totally balanced by your fifth step's plant.
4. The fourth thing is don't worry so much about the depth of your drop. Coaches love to harp on this. I think it is often a mistake, especially for guys just starting out. There are many times quarterbacks are dropping too deep. And there are very few times where the lack of depth on a drop causes a play to go awry. It is much more important to learn the rhythm of the steps and find your balance while crossing over sideways. Depth can be added later.
5. Five is keep your hips and shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage or slightly open. Closing the shoulder on your drop will cut off your vision to one side of the field. Also if you are closing your shoulder you are likely running more than you are exercising a scissor motion. Try imagining an arrow running through your two hips that you need to keep perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. If this is difficult concentrate on your left foot and toes landing parallel to the line of scrimmage (opposite for lefties) instead of in the direction you are headed. One other trick is to shuffle with out a crossover and then mix in the crossover to trick your hips into staying at the shuffling angle. i.e.. shuffle, shuffle, cross, cross, repeat. Once you feel the cross is correct continue for the length of the field to gain muscle memory.
Those are the most immediate things that come to mind when coaching new quarterbacks on the five step drop. Good luck and feel free to leave comments and ask questions below, or contact me for any other quarterbacking questions you may have.