What Is A Cadence In Football? Terminology

Have you ever heard a football commentator refer to a cadence and wonder what they were talking about? Well, you are not alone, this football terminology is often used on Sundays leaving many fans questioning what it means.

A cadence in football refers to an audible signal used by the quarterback to let the rest of the team know when he is going to snap the ball. In other words, a cadence is the series of words quarterbacks yell when snapping the ball.

Why Are Cadence Used In Football?

Now that you know cadences are used to let teammates know when the ball is snapped you may be wondering if it is even necessary. After all, offensive players can’t start the play until the ball is snapped.

There are actually several reasons that teams utilize cadences in football. The main reasons being, keeping the defense guessing the snap, utilizing hard counts, and enhancing communication.

Keeping The Defense Guessing

One of the main benefits of utilizing a cadence is that is keeps the defense guessing the snap count. When playing a high level of football the defense will attempt to read offensive signals that the ball is going to be snapped.

For example, if a quarterback simply clapped his hand and the ball was snapped the defense would key in on this and begin jumping the snap.

Using a customized cadence each time you snap the ball is going to make it difficult on the defense to time the snap accurately. Additionally, the offense will change the cadence throughout the game in order to keep the defense on its toes.

Utilizing Hard Counts

On top of keeping the defense guessing the snap, a team can actually use cadences to benefit their offense.

A hard count is a fake cadence that is used to trick the defense into thinking the ball is going to be snapped. When a hard count is used the end goal is to trick a defensive player into jumping across the line of scrimmage.

If a defender jumps over the line a penalty will be called. At worst this is going to result in a five yard gain for the offense.

At best it can result in a free play. This is a play in which a penalty flag is thrown which allows the offense to take a big risk as any negative outcome can be cancelled out by accepting the penalty.

Hard counts are used almost every single game in the NFL which shows how important the cadence can be in football.

Enhancing Communication

The main reason that teams use a cadence in their offense is to maintain communication amongst the offensive players. By having a set cadence on each play the offensive players will be able to know the exact moment the ball is going to be snapped.

This will allow these players to get a great first step to start the play. Additionally, words in the cadence may also communicate pre-snap motions.

For example, receivers may move laterally across the backfield prior to the snap. These sorts of motions are often built into the cadence itself.

In this case, one word of the cadence will let the player know when to start the motion and another word will cue the center to snap the ball.

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