Alex Smith had the best season of his career last year, under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback himself. Harbaugh’s reputation of successfully coaching players at the quarterback position combined with his undying support for Alex Smith, yielded an incredible season for Smith. Smith has endured years of abuse at the hands of Bay Area fans during his career, but after last season, he surprised many skeptics and is ready to take the next step.
During the offseason, Smith has been working with renowned pitching coach Tom House, who many say is the Jim Harbaugh of the baseball world. A former major-league pitcher himself, House has coached legendary players such as Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan. His immense knowledge and expertise on the science of throwing eventually led him to work with NFL quarterbacks about ten years ago. Some of his past students? Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Joe Flacco! Brees actually recommended Smith spend some time with House, and it seems like it was the right move.
In late March, Smith spent a week at USC with House polishing his throwing mechanics, and improving the strength of his right shoulder. Smith had two surgeries on his right shoulder, and House has said that his throwing weaknesses and the surgeries are definitely related. Regarding Smith’s throwing style, House said, “The cool thing is he’s thrown perfectly in his life before – before he hurt his shoulder. It was just a matter of rediscovering what he did before his initial surgeries.” By using 3-D video analysis inside USC’s batting cage, Smith’s form was broken down at a thousand frames per second, in order to assess the position of his head, hips, shoulders, and arms when he threw.
Smith said he emerged from the process with a much healthier throwing motion, and more efficient with his movement. While House is best known in the world of baseball, Drew Brees has indicated that House was one of the reasons for the upward path of his career. A little sports science never hurt anyone, right? Maybe this offseason experiment will be what Alex Smith needs to jump-start many more career-best seasons.