Why do football players lick their fingers?

If you watch football often you’ve likely noticed that quarterbacks have a tendency to lick their fingers before the start of the play.

The reason quarterbacks lick their fingers is to improve their grip on the football. Though it does not make a huge difference having a little extra moisture can make the ball easier to grip.

Another reason that quarterbacks will often lick their hands is simply due to habit. 

Once quarterbacks get in the habit of doing this before the play it can become part of their routine.

Just like a basketball player has a routine when they go to take a free throw quarterbacks have a pre-snap routine as well.

If licking their fingers is something that makes them comfortable they may find themselves doing so before each and every snap.

Additionally, quarterbacks that play with gloves will benefit from licking their hands. 

When wearing gloves in football spit is often used in order to make them sticky. You will notice wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends will often spit on their gloves in order to make them tackier.

Quarterbacks can use this same technique to get a little more grip on the ball when wearing gloves.

Now that you know why quarterbacks lick their fingers you may be wondering if they shave their arms.

Negatives of licking your hands as a quarterback

Many quarterbacks around the NFL do not think about the negative aspects of licking their hand before a snap.

Surprisingly there are a few negative aspects to this habit.

One way licking your hands can hurt you as a quarterback is by tipping your hand.

The defensive players in the nfl are incredibly skilled at reading the offensive players. Looking at the stance of offensive linemen or the feet of the quarterback can often give away what type of play is going to be run.

When licking your hand as a quarterback you are letting the Defense know you are likely going to pass the ball.

An ESPN article found that quarterback Jake Delhomme was twice as likely to throw the ball on plays in which he licked his hand before the snap.

Quarterbacks looking to get a good grip on the ball are more likely to do so before a passing play.

This can give the Defense an edge as they may know when the offense is going to throw the ball.

This type of information is incredibly valuable to the defense as it means that they can put a lot more focus on their pass defense as opposed to their run defense.

Additionally, quarterbacks who licked their hands may not be the best for their immune system.

When the covid 19 pandemic came around the NFL looked for many ways to stop the spread within the league.

One of the ways to do this was by getting quarterbacks to stop placing their hands on their tongue between most offensive plays.

Drew Brees quarterback of the New Orleans Saints went as far as to stop licking his hands altogether in order to follow the NFL’s guidelines.

All in all, licking your hands when playing football is something that will likely stick around in football. most quarterbacks will tell you they do this to get a better grip on the ball but something tells me it has a lot more to do with habit.

That’s all on quarterbacks licking their fingers if you want to learn more check why quarterbacks are taping their fingers or why some players put tape on their elbows.

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