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Possibly many would not recognize the necessity for a discussion of the spiral pass from the snapper-back in a presentation of the forward pass. Without this spiral pass, however, a successful forward passing game is greatly handicapped if not rendered absolutely ineffective. The reasons for this will be presented in a later chapter. Suffice it here to say that the writer regards a good fast, accurate, true spiral pass from the snapper-back, that can be shot back speedily and accurately to a distance of at least fifteen yards, as absolutely indispensable to a successful forward passing game. Ability to get such a pass is not possessed by every center, nor by every team even among the better colleges. This failure is due first to a lack of appreciation of its importance, and second to an inability to teach centers how to acquire this art.

The following method of teaching this pass has been found effective:

First: Have the candidate make an ordinary underhand spiral pass forward. This is so simple and common that almost every player does it automatically. Have him notice what he does. Notice how the ball is held as it swings forward past the hip. The hand is bent inward almost at right angles to the forearm. Now as the ball is shot forward from the hand a peculiar pulling, lifting motion is made. This motion imparts the rotation to the ball and produces the spiral. This is the fundamental part of the action. Essentially the same action must now be secured with a backward pass.

Second: Have the candidate make an ordinary underhand spiral pass backward. To many players this will at first seem awkward and they may be unable to control either the direction or the rotation of the pass. It is not necessary to continue with this until it is mastered, but some practice on it is helpful. Proceed soon to the third step.

Third: Take position as a center, right leg back for a right hander, swing the ball freely between the legs with the right hand, and make a backward spiral pass between the legs. Work on this until a regular spiral is secured.

Fourth: Still swing the ball freely from the ground but place the left hand against the ball, pressing it more firmly against the forearm and guiding the direction of the ball. The right hand may now be a little farther forward on the ball.

Fifth: When the above has been mastered take position as in the fourth step, then bending a little more in the hips and knees place the ball, without changing position of the hands, so that it touches the ground well out in front. When ready pull the ball powerfully with the right hand, guiding with the left, and shoot it back at the chest of the catcher, at first about seven yards back. Follow through with the right hand and as the ball leaves the hand give the pulling, lifting snap described above in number one which produces the real spiral. Great care must be taken to see that the right hand is kept far enough under and around the ball. As soon as the player begins to lay it on the ground he almost invariably forgets to pass the hand far enough around it. Consequently he loses his rotation and the pass becomes “wobbly” and inaccurate.

Taught in this way many men acquired the idea of the spiral pass from center with great ease. Extended and constant practice, however, is necessary to insure a consistent and accurate performance that can be depended upon under fire the accomplishment fundamental to the forward pass.

Some men master a very successful backward spiral pass from center with one hand. The principle of this pass is essentially the same as that of the closed grip overhand pass described later in the chapter on technique of passing. It requires a large hand and perhaps a certain amount of natural “knack.” It is dangerous and less effective with a wet ball, but with a dry ball ability to pass in this way with one hand often adds greatly to the offensive strength of the center.