How to Throw a Football Spiral | WD-40

How to Throw a Football Spiral

How to Throw a Football Spiral

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Whether you want to channel your inner NFL Quarterback, teach your kids how to properly cast a Hail Mary, or simply throw the pigskin around with your friends without acting the fool, the quest for learning and improving your football spiral technique is a valid endeavor. With a higher learning curve than kicking a soccer ball, tossing around the American Football poses a unique challenge to newcomers who don’t wish to flub their first throws.

Picking the Right Ball

According to WikiHow, the first step to throwing a spiral is to choose the right ball for you. Size is important, especially if you are throwing with children, so it’s important to know the scales used and to choose the right one.

  • Size 9: the official size for professional, college, and teams with players 14+ years of age
  • Size 8: for players ages 12-14
  • Sizes 6 and 7: pee-wee league football and young children
  • Material: Pigskin (leather) is the classic, but depending on your environment (pools, etc) you may want to consider runner or another material


Grip It Before You Rip It

The right grip is critical for a proper spiral, though there are varying opinions on which grip is best. Use your non-throwing hand to secure the ball and help lift it up to chest level. The intention is to throw with your fingertips, not your palm, so there should be a gap in between your hand and the ball when you grip it. While there isn’t one standard technique, most quarterbacks put their index finger toward the back tip of the ball and their ring finger on the laces. Try it and see what feels good to you. Next, put the ball near your ear while looking for your target.

Use the Proper Stance

Your hips and legs can add great power to a pass, if used properly. Place your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and bend your knees a little bit so you have some bounce in your stance. When you begin your throwing motion, step forward with your lead leg (the one opposite your throwing hand) toward where you are aiming while your throwing shoulder remains perpendicular to the target.

Master the Motion

Wind up with your elbow above your shoulder – this helps with accuracy and puts less strain on the elbow. Let your fingers linger on the ball as long as possible as you turn your wrist to throw. As the ball leaves your fingers, point your index finger to your target. Finish with your thumb pointing down. Your back leg should come forward with your momentum. End with your throwing shoulder turned towards the target, and take care not to over rotate. 

For some visual aids, Dick’s Sporting Goods has a good example video of proper form and The Art of Manliness has a nice (and  entertaining) illustrated guide that should help you spiral your way to perfection…with lots of practice.


Brush up on these basics then go find a buddy and orchestrate some hot routes in the backyard with your newfound confidence. Your journey to the perfect spiral is underway!


Tip: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product to shine and protect football helmets.

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