The Nuances of Playing Quarterback Better Under Center

The Nuances of Playing Quarterback Better Under Center
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There's an art to perfecting the quarterback position, and while many players and fans might only focus on the arm strength or decision-making prowess of a quarterback, the mechanics of what happens directly under the center are often underappreciated, yet crucial.

My entire career from high school through college solely consisted of shotgun. My first year in the NFL, I had to learn these intricacies on the fly and in hindsight, wish I practiced them sooner. Based on that experience and my five more years in the NFL, here are three subtle nuances that can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of under center play.

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Do Not Crowd the Center

For the quarterback, it's essential not to crowd the center. Being too close or placing one's hands too far underneath the center's butt creates the need to overextend on your drop. Overextending on your drop means your center of mass is not underneath you and in turn, leads to diminished accuracy. The snapper, on the other hand, should snap the ball sufficiently far back and maintain a slightly raised posture, ensuring the QB doesn't have to crowd him for a clean exchange. If the center's posture is too low or does not snap the ball far back enough, the quarterback has to squat down more and crowd the center.

Eyes on the Safeties

It's natural for a quarterback, especially rookies, to have their focus entirely on receiving the snap. This often results in the head and eyes being downward, missing the bigger picture. Keeping eyes up during the snap offers two advantages:

  • It allows a quicker assessment of the defense's coverage.
  • It facilitates faster decision-making, which could be the difference between a game-changing play and a sack.

Synchronize Your Motion

Playing under center requires impeccable timing. Instead of waiting for the snap, then initiating motion, a quarterback should almost preemptively start their footwork as they say “hut”, making it appear as if the snap and the subsequent movement are happening simultaneously. This synchronicity allows:

  • Quicker drop backs, aiding in getting the ball out quicker
  • Running backs receiving the ball sooner, thereby granting them more time to make decisive cuts.


For any of these three points to be effective, there needs to be a deep trust between the quarterback and the center. Erratic snap locations can disrupt this flow, making it essential for both players to work closely together in mastering this dance. It should be subconscious, not even an afterthought, once you’ve repped it enough times . Little details are where you can find competitive edges to maximize your potential. These nuances should not be overlooked.