In a football game, one of the most important things for a quarterback to learn is the running game and how it affects his steps from center. Some running plays call for the quarterback to open his right hip (if he’s right-handed) and step straight back. This technique is called the six o’clock step. The best way to imagine these steps is to picture a clock.

The center is at twelve o’clock, and directly behind the quarterback is six o’clock. Three o’clock is to the quarterback’s right, and nine o’clock is to his left.

For example, a right-handed quarterback hands off the ball to a runner heading on a run around the left side of his offensive line (it’s called a sweep) at the five o’clock mark. When handing the ball to a runner heading on a sweep across the backfield to the right, the quarterback should hand off at the seven o’clock mark.

Because different quarterbacks have different-sized hands, one passing grip doesn’t suit everyone. Some coaches say that a quarterback should hold the ball with his middle finger going across the ball’s white laces or trademark. Other coaches believe both the middle and ring finger should grip the laces.

Many great quarterbacks have huge hands, allowing them to place their index finger on the tip of the ball while wrapping their middle, ring, and small fingers around the middle of the ball. However, the ball slips from many quarterbacks’ hands when they attempt to grip the ball this way. So basically every quarterback needs to find the grip that works for him.