If you play quarterback the odds are you have either been in a quarterback competition, or you will be at some point in your playing career. After being in quarterback competitions at the Junior Varsity level, Varsity level, Division I, and Division II levels I have developed five steps you can follow to ensure you are putting yourself in the best position to win the job.
1) WIN THE MOMENT
It is easy to get caught up in the big picture when you are battling for the starting quarterback job, but it is vital to not only stay in the moment, but win the moment. The battle is constant and it is everywhere: the film room, weight room, classroom, locker room, outside of team activities and of course on the field.
In each of these places you must do your best to compete at all times. If your competitor is walking on the field, you run. If he gets a B in math, you get an A. If he watches film for three hours, you watch for four. Remember the cream always rises to the top, and this is a marathon not a sprint, so win the moment every opportunity you get. Coaches are always watching, whether you think so or not.
2) WIN OVER EACH OFFENSIVE POSITION GROUP
As a quarterback your team is going to look to you for leadership whether you like it or not. The best way to lead a group of men is to have them believe in you and want to fight for you. With this being said, what you can do to get them to maybe run their route a little harder for you, block a little harder for you or even mention to the coach that they respect you, is to win each offensive group over.
For linemen it is simple, treat them like you owe them your life and at all times thank them for the work they do. A simple thing that all linemen appreciate is you taking them out to dinner just you and the linemen (apparently they love to eat).
Receivers are usually a little bit more tricky to win over, but they will always gravitate towards one specific trait. The trait they gravitate towards is whoever gets them the darn ball the best. Ways to make sure you are the one who delivers it to them best is to stay after practice and throw with them. It will make you a better quarterback, show the receivers you are serious, and make them respect you even more.
Running backs/Full Backs want the quarterback who is going to give them the best chance to win, and one who might throw them the ball finally. If you are doing a 7on7 or routes on air and can check a couple passes down to your running backs, they will appreciate it more than you know. They run their butts off in their routes and do not get the ball much. Tight Ends are easy, if they are mainly blocking tight ends include them in with the linemen category and if they are more of a receiver then include them in the receiver category.
3) MEMORIZE THE PLAYBOOK LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND
You can have the arm strength of Dan Marino, the speed of Michael Vick, and the leadership of Peyton Manning, but if you do not know the in and outs of every play you will not win the starting job. The playbook should be glued to your hip, right along with a notebook and pencil. Coaches do not have time to be teaching quarterbacks the plays on the field, in fact they should be able to consider you another coach on the field. For this reason no matter where you go you should take notes and then study them every chance you get. It is important, even if you think you know all the plays, to take notes in every meeting no matter how big or small. It shows the coaches you are serious and that you are coachable.
A good technique for memorizing the playbook is writing the play on one side of a flashcard and then drawing the play on the other side. The fact of the matter is you will only be as good as how much you know of the playbook. The analogy of taking a test is perfect: When you walk into a history test that you have studied for two weeks for you know you are going to kill it, but when you walk into a test that you forgot about, then you will feel nervous and will be starting behind the 8 ball. This of all the steps is most in your control, so take advantage of this.
4) OOZE CONFIDENCE
Make everyone around you feel like you are the man at all times. There is a thin line between being confident, and being cocky and acting like you deserve the starting job. The way you achieve this is by always making the people around you feel like you know what the heck you are doing whether you do or not, without coming off as entitled. A good way to feel more confident is to prepare. Preparation propels you to the top level of confidence.
Trust the work you have put into being a quarterback. You are the man and you have to know and believe that. If you do not believe that then people will notice and they will not want to follow you into battle. Walk into every opportunity you get and know you will take advantage of it. You are what your mind thinks and believes, remember that.
5) BE ABLE TO HANDLE FAILURE
The fact of the matter is that the quarterback position is setup for failure and criticism. Every mistake you make will be magnified and blown out of proportion. You must know this, recognize this, and use it to your advantage. Often times a coach will not care about the mistake you make, but rather how you react after making it. Know that anything that you do is never as good as you think it is, nor as bad as you think it is. Learn from your mistakes and become better from each one. This will separate you from a good quarterback and make you a great one.
Follow these 5 Steps for Winning a Quarterback Competition at Any Level and you will put yourself in a great position to win the starting quarterback battle. Good luck and work hard!