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Throwback: Tom Brady and Tony Carter Demonstrate the Art of a Flawless Handoff

In the archives of New England Patriots history, a timeless instructional video from the year 2000 offers invaluable insights into the intricate mechanics of a successful handoff. This educational treasure features legendary quarterback, Tom Brady, and his trusted running back, Tony Carter, as they meticulously guide us through the complexities of this fundamental play.

Understanding the Purpose of the Handoff

The handoff is a pivotal maneuver in American football, serving as the seamless transfer of possession from the quarterback to the running back. By executing this play effectively, offenses can gain significant yardage and control the pace of the game.

Key Components of a Successful Handoff

According to Brady and Carter, a flawless handoff hinges on the precise coordination of five key elements:

  1. Timing: The timing of the handoff is crucial, ensuring the running back receives the ball at the optimal moment for maximum momentum and acceleration.

  2. Grip: The quarterback must secure the football with a firm grip, ensuring a secure transfer without fumbling. The running back, in turn, must maintain a tight hold on the ball to prevent it from slipping.

  3. Angle: The angle at which the handoff is executed is vital. The quarterback should release the ball at an angle that allows the running back to seamlessly catch it while maintaining his momentum.

  4. Placement: The placement of the ball is equally important. The quarterback must hand the ball to the running back at waist height, facilitating a swift and efficient transition.

  5. Follow-through: The follow-through motion after the handoff is essential. The quarterback should extend his arm in the direction of the running back, while the running back should tuck the ball securely under his arm.

Step-by-Step Execution

To illustrate the practical application of these principles, Brady and Carter provide a detailed breakdown of the handoff process:

  1. The QB's Stance: The quarterback begins in an athletic stance, with his feet shoulder-width apart and his knees slightly bent.

  2. The RB's Alignment: The running back positions himself parallel to the quarterback, approximately one yard behind him.

  3. The Exchange: As the play unfolds, the quarterback reaches behind him and grips the football with his dominant hand. Simultaneously, the running back extends his arms towards the quarterback.

  4. The Grip Exchange: The quarterback executes a secure grip exchange, releasing the ball into the running back's waiting hands.

  5. The Placement: The ball is handed off at waist height, ensuring the running back can transition smoothly while maintaining forward momentum.

  6. The Follow-through: The quarterback extends his arm in the direction of the running back, while the running back tucks the ball securely under his arm.

Practice Makes Perfect

Brady and Carter emphasize the importance of diligent practice to master the art of the handoff. They recommend practicing different variations of the play, including handoffs from under center, in the shotgun formation, and with a variety of running backs.


The instructional video by Tom Brady and Tony Carter serves as an invaluable resource for aspiring quarterbacks and running backs seeking to elevate their game. By understanding the key components and practicing the detailed steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, players can significantly improve their ability to execute successful handoffs, ultimately contributing to the success of their team.

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