Quarterback mechanics interest me and I don't think any player has come under as much scrutiny in regards to their mechanics as Tim Tebow. ESPN LA last night confirmed that Tebow is continuing to work on his throwing motion ahead of the new season.
Over the last five days, Tim has been working out in California at USC's practise facility with Tom House, a former major league pitcher who has worked with quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Drew Brees. So what is involved in this week long QB training camp?
The typical quarterback's schedule is a weeklong program at the Rod Dedeaux Research and Baseball Institute on the USC campus, where 3D video analysis is used in coordination with traditional drills to break down individual motions to a thousand frames per second and discover small inconsistencies or errors.
I'm sure that many of you are familiar with Tebow's elongated throwing motion where he brings the ball back low and his throwing motion is almost a loop. His throwing motion takes 0.60 seconds to complete, which is slower than the average quarterback at 0.40 seconds. During the 2011 off-season Tebow worked hard to evolve his throwing motion into a more traditional look. Unfortunately muscle memory being what it is, when 300lb lineman started breathing down his neck he reverted to his college throwing motion, a motion he has had for over a decade.
As you can see from this video, after 30 days of training, the motion was drastically different:
So in the simplest terms, what exactly is muscle memory? Muscle memory is simply a movement that the muscles become familiar with due to repetition. The muscles become accustomed to making this movement and it becomes second nature. So it becomes 'natural' to you. For example, we walk because it is familiar, our muscles know what to do and when to do it, we don't have to conciously think about how we do it. However if you decided to try a triple jump for the first time, it would be unfamiliar and only trial and error would allow you to become accustomed to the 'alien movements'.
After 30 days of repetition you can see that Tim Tebows motion was shorter, faster and more compact to the shoulder. His wind up windmill action was nowhere to be seen. However if you watched Denver last year you will notice that he did revert to the normal. Basically in the heat of the game, with your mind focused on the play at hand, you can't concentrate on your throwing motion like you can at a practise facility. You go back to what is 'natural' to you.
ESPN did a fantastic feature on sports science on the motion in question:
I think the point here is, can you actually really change a throwing motion? a motion that is so familiar. I'm not sure that you can. However Tebow is giving it one hell of a go. In Denver at times, he did use his new throwing motion and it allowed him to not only get a better spiral on the football, but to also get it out quicker. It'll be interesting to see Tebow's motion the first time he takes the field for the Jets this pre-season.