Does Your Kid Have The 6 Traits Needed To Become An Elite Quarterback?

In Football, Learn
By Alex Flanagan | July 7, 2017
6 traits of an elite quarterback

By Alex Flanagan

What does the perfect NFL Quarterback look like? Arizona Cardinal’s Head Coach Bruce Arians should know. The two-time Coach of the Year has worked with many of the top quarterbacks in NFL, including Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck.

In his new book “The Quarterback Whisperer”, officially released on July 11, Arians gives us a unique look at the special relationship that exists between coach and quarterback. Some of the stories from his 40-year coaching career will make you laugh, especially if you have ever had the privilege, like I have, of meeting Bruce or better yet, having a drink with him.

This isn’t just a book for NFL fans though. Parents of young football players will enjoy reading it because of its insight into what it takes to be a successful quarterback, leader, or person.

In the book, Arians answers the question parents often ask him: “What can I do right now to prepare my son to be an NFL quarterback?” He also shares what specific age the path of development usually begins for young men aspiring to play quarterback. (Don’t panic if your 8-year-old isn’t the star of his flag football team.)

The Quarterback Whisperer takes a simple approach to football explaining many of the basic terms and concepts, making it a great book for anyone looking to better understand the game. The play-calling chapter, where Arians shares the core principals of his passing game, will definitely appeal to parent’s coaching their kid’s football team.

And if you are open to it, after reading this book, you will kind of know if your kid does or doesn’t have it. One of the biggest take aways for me is that NFL quarterbacks are a special and rare breed who possess characteristics that are apparent early on.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few excerpts from The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians and Lars Anderson describing the six traits Bruce Arians says are needed to become an elite NFL quarterback.

The 6 Traits Needed To Become An Elite Quarterback


Heart is exhibited when a quarterback plays through pain, when he smashes into a 320 pound defensive lineman on third down to try to gain those extra six inches for the first down, or when he throws and interception and then runs forty yard down the field to make a tackle. Whenever a quarterback puts the team above himself, that’s an expression of heart.”



This is the ability to handle success and failure equally… When the play doesn’t go as designed, the quarterback must not sulk, lose his temper or even convey a sense of frustration. And he sure better not let his grit waiver… He needs to learn from what he just experienced on the field—but he needs to quickly move on and be the leader of his offense. QB’s must always—always—act like the next play is going to be a touchdown, even if they don’t’ truly believe it. The quarterback needs to project calm and poise and steely-eyed confidence.”



“Another characteristic the NFL quarterback must have that you don’t see is the ability to process a vast amount of information in a short amount of time and make prudent decisions based on that intelligence… It is now more challenging and confusing than ever to play quarterback in the NFL… So many quarterbacks who are drafted high fail—and that has nothing to do with their physical talent…I can’t overemphasize how important it is to have a fast, fertile mind to play quarterback in the NFL. And also how important it is to have the study habits of an Ivy League doctoral student.”



“Virtually all of the great NFL quarterbacks have been extroverts, guys who love being around other guys and are life-of-the-party types. You can feel their presence when they walk into a room. There are exceptions, but most often the successful quarterback is a natural-born leader, a Patton in pads.”



“The most important physical attribute of the ideal quarterback is the ability to throw the ball with accuracy to all parts of the field…Of course, you want your quarterback to have a strong arm, but it’s much more important to be accurate with the ball… By the time a college QB is twenty-one or twenty-two he either has a well-developed sense of anticipation and accuracy or he doesn’t. The cold truth is that NFL coaches can’t develop those skills.”



“Now I’m not talking about the need to be a great athlete…An athletic NFL quarterback simply needs to be able to move in and out of the pocket. You don’t have to be fast. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would never be described as fleet-of-foot speedsters. But they can move a step or two and then be extemently accurate with their throws even if they aren’t perfectly balanced. Ben Roethlisberger has never been the quickest guy, but he can roll out and complete a throw with defenders hanging all over him.”


Alex Flanagan co-founded I love to watch you play in 2015. She was flying home from an NFL work assignment when a learning specialist, who was sitting next to her, shared 5 reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty missing her son’s game. She shared their conversation on her own website and the response was so overwhelming it inspired her to create ILTWYP to help parents like herself navigate youth sports.


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