Terrelle Pryor and The Mechanics of the Golf Swing

"The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated"

- Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor's football coaches (high school and college, mainly) did him a great disservice by not adequately teaching him how to throw properly. Pryor's otherwise insane attributes overshadowed the need for any of his coaches to teach him to throw properly. Shame on them. Regardless, Pryor entered the NFL supplemental draft inadequately-trained in throwing a football. His unearthly athleticism did it again - he was drafted anyway.

While his previous coaches did little to maximize Pryor's abilities, his NFL coaches were down-right incompetant boobs. One might have thought that upon entering the NFL someone would have alerted Pryor to his "problem" but this was not the case. He sat for two years killing time until the gravity of his deficiency reached its zenith thanks to Mark Davis, who forced Pryor into an NFL game, which immediately highlighted Pryor's - ahem - "problem". You see, this is important to point out - in the time Pryor waited for his opportunity to get on the field, he could have solved his number one issue, but nobody on the Raiders' staff did anything to help the kid (whatever the excuses may be, the fact will forever remain).

Fast-forward to now, and it's been less than a year since Pryor sought out Tom House and others in an attempt to learn the proper techniques for throwing a football. Think about that. Less than a year. It is not, at all, presumptuous to believe that Pryor's current difficulties are tied directly to his lack of confidence in his throwing mechanics, confidence that - under NFL game-pressure - has unraveled (right along with his mechanics). When Pryor hesitates in the pocket it's likely due to thinking about his throwing mechanics, which is a death knell to everything he is trying to accomplish in that moment.

The parallel of Pryor's throwing mechanics to the mechanics of the golf swing is an apt analogy - when a successful pro golfer takes a shot during a professional golf tournament he or she is not thinking about how to swing, on the contrary he may be thinking about the target or she might just be thinking about relaxing her muscles (which is not a mechanical thought). The average pro golfer is, typically, fixated upon the minutia of the game itself when, also, in-between shots: the strategy perhaps, or the lie, or any number of possible thoughts that have nothing to do with swing mechanics. To be effective, the golf swing has to be a natural act - as natural as an NFL quarterback throwing a football!

It's way too early to give up on Pryor. Yes, he's struggling mightily, but the reasons for those struggles is easily understandable, and what's more - they can be overcome with additional practice (of a mechanical nature). The problem is that during an NFL season there is no time to practice mechanics. Did anyone notice that Pryor's difficulties seemingly multiplied after the bye week? After he spent time (a few days?) working on mechanical issues with his coach? That's not surprising, at all. Everyone is different in how they learn. But since we already know that Pryor's problems with throwing deepened after working again with Tom House, we can extrapolate certain conclusions, one being that it was actually a mistake to try and make a mechanical "fix" over the bye; it obviously created additional problems most likely a reliance upon mechanical "thinking", which is of no-help to him during the crunch-time of pressure-packed games; in fact, as we've already discussed - mechanical thinking is a detriment.

I feel confident that Pryor can overcome his current deficiencies but it's going to take (for him; for his team; for his fans) both time and patience. Pryor is still learning the body mechanics of the proper throwing motion. It was impractical to think he would internalize and ingrain all of the vital throwing mechanics in one two-week (Spring) period with Tom House and Co, certainly not to the point that those mechanics would hold up over a 16-game NFL schedule. That's nuts. In fact, it's amazing how far and fast Pryor was able to come in such a short time. Unfortunately, however, his mechanics did break down precisely because they are not ingrained, not internalized to the point of being a natural action. The only "short fix" is to simply remove Pryor from the source of intense pressure (NFL games) and give him a couple of weeks to regenerate, mentally. It is not, at all, unrealistic to think that Pryor would benefit from a 2 or 3 week break from those intense, pressure-packed experiences. But that's not the ultimate fix, of course, and he may (or may not) start to break down again before the season is over.

The real fix will come in the off-season when he devotes himself again (months this time) to mastering the mechanics of throwing a football. The mechanics will become that much more ingrained, that much more natural. Those of you counting Pryor out are making a huge mistake. As long as Pryor stays the course this off-season, as long as his overall confidence (in his God-given abilities) is untainted, he will come back as a much more polished passer. Everything he has to think about now will come naturally to him and he will grow by leaps and bounds. It's important to remember that we are still talking about a very young man, one whose bad throwing mechanics can be easily replaced by good mechanics. That's the beauty of youth. Pryor's best is yet to come.

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