After all, he has done the same warm-up for the past two years, but less than three weeks ago it became a viral sensation, so much so the Cowboys’ online store is selling T-shirts, “How to Dak in 4 Steps.” After running back Ezekiel Elliott turned it into a touchdown celebration against the Detroit Lions, the team asked fans to send in videos of them doing the “Dak Dance” for the chance to win a jersey signed by Prescott and Elliott.
Before last week’s game against the New England Patriots, receiver Randall Cobb even broke out the imitation in pregame warm-ups, much to Prescott’s delight. Undoubtedly all of the cameras will be trained on Prescott as he goes through his early warm-ups before Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS).
“I guess not everybody plays four times in a row on prime-time TV and the SkyCam is not over the top of them,” Prescott said. “I think that’s just another example of that, of what the Cowboys are, what their attention can do. Tom Brady has done this forever. Drew Brees has done it for years. Tons of other quarterbacks have done it. I’ve done it myself for two years, but yet we found it this week and now everybody has taken it and run with it, which is cool. But I don’t know that I deserve credit for it.”
Teammates were surprised it became a thing on the web.
“We’ve seen him do it so many times for so long,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “Guess it’s the big stage, the bright lights.”
For all the videos showing Prescott doing the warm-up accompanied by music by Shakira or the Bee Gees or The Killers, there is actually a purpose behind the torquing.
Come for the @EzekielElliott touchdown…
— NFL (@NFL) November 17, 2019
Prescott started it when he began working with 3DQB, the quarterback academy run by Tom House that has a number of elite quarterbacks — such as Brady and Brees — run through similar warm-ups. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Indianapolis’s Jacoby Brissett do similar routines.
“It’s about your rotation,” Prescott said. “It’s the disassociation of your left shoulder from your front hip. My front hip goes and I can hold my shoulder. When I bring my back hip, the right [shoulder] then comes. That’s all it is. It’s pretty much like a rubber band, I guess. I’m just warming up, getting it ready, getting the body flowing. Elasticity is one of the words I’m looking for. It’s really that.”
Up and back over a short span of the field maybe two-plus hours before kickoff, Prescott will shuffle, step to his left, right or straight and explode his hips through as if to simulate a pass. Prescott will find himself even now walking through his house or inside the locker room at The Star simulating the hip thrust.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 24, 2019
“It definitely took some time to learn how to do it,” Prescott said. “My body, it didn’t start adjusting and becoming second nature to it until the latter part of last year. It’s not something that just happens. It’s not something you just do a couple of times and you got it.”
The torque Prescott creates with his hips has allowed him to become a more confident passer.
“All of this has allowed me to loosen up [my core],” Prescott said. “It’s crazy different. I was always tight, muscular and I was kind of muscling the ball. Now what it’s allowed me to do is use my lower half, get that disassociation, and that’s why you see I have more pop on the ball throwing down the field and I’m throwing through the receivers now.”
‘Warming up to throw’
Some 1,700 miles from Dallas, Catherine Higgins has implemented Prescott’s warm-up as part of her softball pitching routine.
As part of her training at Planet Fastpitch in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, Higgins and her fellow pitchers were given a video of Prescott’s now-famous, hip-turning routine to study and help them improve their motion.
“Men and women, we have different hips, so as we fire the hip for softball, that helps us get speed and mobility,” said Higgins, who is a senior at Medway High School and recently signed a letter of intent to attend Assumption College. “So if we don’t fire our hips, we’re stuck in a closed position and we’ll be slower. It just kind of clicked. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s how fast my hips have to move.'”
Higgins has been doing the warm-up for about a month and has noticed an improvement already.
“I’ve gotten faster. It’s helped me with my curveball,” Higgins said. “My curve is outside, so my hip needs to move faster so the movement on the ball can come.”
That he can impact a softball player far away from Dallas was cool, Prescott said, but the hip turn is only part of his warm-up.
When Prescott first walks out onto the field, he will sprint the length of the field a few times to get his legs loose. Then he will warm up his arms and shoulder with a series of twists and turns designed to get the small muscles firing.
“It’s about warming up before you ever touch a ball,” Prescott said. “A lot of times it was like, ‘Hey, give me a ball,’ and you start warming up. How about we stretch, then get the ball? That’s what I’m doing now, getting the shoulder muscles firing in all different ways. Then, it’s the body and then getting the legs going.”
Said Prescott’s backup, Cooper Rush: “It’s not throwing to warm up. It’s warming up to throw.”
Once that’s finished, Prescott can finally grab a football. He will play catch with strength and conditioning coach Brett Bech. Prescott will start at the 10-yard line with Bech positioned at the goal line. After every third throw, Prescott moves back 10 yards, stopping at the 50-yard line.
“What I’m doing there is, I want the ball from the 10 all the way to about the 40 to be the same kind of velocity, same kind of height, and then at that point, I know my body is firing, my body is reacting,” Prescott said. “My arm is staying the same from the 10 to the 50. I’m not doing anything different, just firing my lower body. It’s kind of just everything is feeling it.”
After that, Prescott will throw passes to his receivers, running through a different series of routes before heading to the locker room to get ready for the game.
It’s difficult to argue with the impact of the routine on Prescott’s success, even though it started well before the cameras picked it up.
“Just the confidence to make all the throws,” Rush said. “A lot of credit goes to [offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna], but [Prescott’s] seeing different throws that can be made and he’s standing there ripping them, where in recent years he maybe turned them down or didn’t really think of them. But now he’s realizing he can make all those throws and [is] having the confidence to do it.”