Bombs Away

Guide to Life: Throw a Perfect Spiral

January 31, 2014 Guides & How-To's By Photo by Henry Phillips
Former Penn State quarterback? ...sure.

Not that we’re that guy (you know who we mean), but we take our pick-up sports with a healthy dose of enthusiasm. A casual game of touch football is the perfect outlet for friendly competition, (a little bit of) athleticism and a chance to revel in some big-game moments like our favorite pros. Unfortunately, we somehow missed out on Peyton’s arm strength and precision. No matter. Simply being able to throw a football correctly keeps you involved in the game and might even get you the nod at the coveted QB spot; hell, show it off during the annual Thanksgiving Gridiron bash and your Uncle Dan might stop calling you “Margaret”. Get a ball, get a friend, and go practice these six easy steps the next time the sun shows up. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a few guttural capital cities, colors and numbers before yelling hut.


1 Grip the ball correctly. Set it on a table in front of you, sideways, laces up. Lay the four fingers of your dominant hand across the laces, the pads of your fingers just on the far side. Slide your fingers toward what will become the back of the ball until only your ring and pinkie are still on the laces (some people also prefer to place their middle finger on the laces). Slide your thumb down to the bottom half of the ball, spreading it considerably and pressing for grip. You should be able to pick the ball up off the table.

2 Ready position. Turn your shoulders to a 90 degree angle to your target; if you’re right handed, left foot in front; left handed, right foot in front. Make a T with those feet: back foot pointed at a 90 degree angle to your target, front foot pointed directly at the target. Hold the ball in front of your body around chest height, off hand also holding the ball opposite of your dominant hand.

3 To begin the throw, bring the ball back to just parallel to your dominant side’s ear. Leave your off hand in the same position at chest height. As you bring the ball back to your ear, point your forward shoulder at your target.


Ah, to have oven-mitt hands and a 6’5″ frame.

4 Step toward your target with your forward foot, bringing your weight onto that foot. As you step, pivot your hips and shoulders so that your chest opens toward your target. As your body unwinds, begin the throwing motion with your arm. The elbow of your off-hand (the one that’s closer to your target) should drive downward to create the force of the throw. [*Note*: The strength of the throw comes from shifting your weight, torquing your body and pushing with your shoulders, then releasing at the right moment. The throwing motion itself, from the shoulder up, provides accuracy and changes the height and trajectory of the throw.]

5 The release starts with a stopping motion at your shoulder, moves to your elbow, then to your wrist and finishes at your fingers. Think of a whip-like motion from your feet to your hand, if that helps. You’re throwing off your front foot, but your back foot should stay just barely grounded, dragging slightly as your body torques.

6 Just before you release, flick the wrist slightly. Continue driving the ball forward with your shoulder and arms, but allow the ball to roll off your thumb and then your fingers. This is all it takes to create the spiral. To throw a “rope” or a flatter pass, release later in the throwing motion. It’ll feel like you’re throwing into the ground, and you might. Adjust the timing of the release. To release a high, floating ball, let the ball roll off your fingers earlier in the throwing motion.

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