There is a myth in football training, especially among younger athletes, in regards to where the power comes from when throwing a football. Many mistakenly believe that the upper body muscles, those of the shoulders and arm, are the primary muscles used in making a deep, powerful, accurate throw. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as the most powerful quarterbacks in the NFL and college football utilize their lower bodies to become stronger when throwing.
The first muscle group that young players need to be aware of is their thigh muscles. These include the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, and abductors, among many others. The calves should not be ignored, either, but the upper thigh muscles are the most important. These muscles are used to plant the foot in the ground and establish a strong base of support for the throw. Force is typically put into the ground to generate a throw, and the leg muscles are what put that force into the ground to begin with. Without strong leg muscles, that force can not be generated.
Once the front foot is planted, the next muscle group involved is the hips. The glutes, primarily the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius, are used to generate the twisting motion that creates the power to throw the football. The hips are the most dense area of muscle in the body, and can generate tremendous amounts of force, as can easily be seen with world-class sprinters who have extremely developed hip muscles. Football quarterbacks also need that development in order to make a long, powerful throw.
The final area of musculature that young football players must take into consideration is the abdominals. The abdominal muscles are made up primarily of the rectus abdominis, which are located on the front of the body; the obliques, which are located on the sides of the torso; and the transversus abdominis, which crisscross the torso in a diagonal fashion. These muscles are not used to generate force so much as to transfer it, and transfer it mostly in a diagonal manner. This can be seen when a quarterback puts his left foot forward before throwing with his right hand. The legs and hips generate the force, which is transferred through the abdomen and into the chest, shoulder, and arm.
It is the abs that complete the chain from the lower to upper body and make for a powerful throw of the football. Unfortunately, many football strength and conditioning programs spend far too much time focusing on the chest and triceps, in particular. While these muscles are important when throwing, they are used mostly for stability and accuracy, rather than power and speed. A throw that is accurate, stable, and slow is more likely to be intercepted than one that is powerful, accurate, stable, and fast.