Gaining an Edge: How Quality Walkthroughs Increase Quarterback Processing Speed

Gaining an Edge: How Quality Walkthroughs Increase Quarterback Processing Speed

22 of the best athletes in the world all start moving at the same time. You have 2-3 seconds to parse through that amoeba of bodies, make a split second decision on where to throw the ball and then execute a complex biomechanical movement - all before you get rocked by a 300 LB defensive lineman. This rapid information processing is what sets elite quarterbacks apart from the average. In this post, I'll explore how you should walk through plays at an elite level, which in turn, helps you process more efficiently on the field.

First and foremost, a "walkthrough" is essentially you, by yourself, going through the call sheet of 50-100 plays at a walking pace. You can do this in the meeting room, at home, or on the field (my preference). So what does it entail and why does it enhance processing speed?

The Process

It's easiest to illustrate this process with an example broken down into steps:

Step 1

I record every single pertinent play call in the gameplan for this week to my I-phone voice memos. I pop in my headphones and listen to a call - similar to how play calls are radioed into the helmet during games. A play call can sound like this:

"X-Mo to Joker Rt. Clock Z-Flick 3 Jet Brawny F-Basic "can/kill" Lazer Pin Sky Z Read It X Shallow".

The first play, before the "can", is for man and the second play, after the "can" is for zone. If interested in what a "can/kill" is I write about it in the footer.

Step 2

I pause the recording and then call the play as if I was in the huddle communicating all the verbiage to my teammates.

Step 3

I recall the down and distance we are anticipating to call this play, lets say this play is for third downs. Based on film study I know the upcoming opponent plays Cover 4, Cover 3 Fire Zone and Cover 1 on third downs.

Step 4

I then envision, like Anya Taylor-Joy in the Queens Gambit, the chessboard moving on the field. I imagine each defense and the exotic blitzes paired with them as I mumble the cadence to myself and walk through this one play, going through my progression and anticipating where the ball should go based on the defense I imagine.

That process gets repeated for each and every play and I do this walkthrough multiple times throughout the week.

Why this Enhances Processing Speed

You are stealing quality reps without the load on your body. You are simulating the game in your mind. The more reps you take during the week, the more you will have the formation, cadence, play, anticipated coverage and checks all operating on autopilot. Then, when you break the huddle with the crowd roaring, you will have more capacity to parse through the pre-snap coverage, any required audibles, and just let it rip.

Wrapping Up

Quarterback is a cerebral position and anyone who does this job works hard. As time is finite and everyone works similar hours, the quality of one's work is one way to gain an edge. This walk through method will enhance the quality of your mental prep and lead to better play when the lights are on and the crowd is deafening.

Can Definition: A “can” or “kill” is essentially an alert to audible the play. Teams often call two plays in the huddle, and quarterbacks alert the offense to audible to the second play by yelling “can can” or “kill kill.

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