What Is a Pitch Count In Football

A pitch count in football refers to a football player playing a limited number of snaps in the next game. If a player is on a pitch count of ten to fifteen snaps that means the player will be on the field for ten to fifteen plays during the next game.

When playing on a pitch count in football a player will not necessarily get the ball on the plays in which they are in the game. The pitch count which is also referred to as a snap count only refers to the number of plays or reps in which the player will be in the game.

Why Are Players Put On A Pitch Count

Now that you understand what a pitch count is in football you may be wondering why they are used. Below we will break down the reasons why a player may be given a pitch count for their next game.


Far and away the most common reason players are placed on a pitch count in football is to recover from injury.

Football is an inherently physical sport which makes re-injury risks quite high. When returning from injury players tend to go through a large serioes of steps in order to get back to playing at their regular rate.

One of these steps is working your way back into to a game. Since there is no way of truly replicating an NFL game environment players will often start their return on a snap count.

This will allow them to feel out their injury in a live game setting. The snap count will ensure the player does not over do it with their injury. It will also lower the chance of reinjury as the player will only play a portion of the game.

Football Shape

Another reason for which a player may be placed on a pitch count in football is becuase they are not in football shape.

Despite all the practices or off-season workouts it is incredibly difficult to get into football shape. For many players, it is believed that the only way to get into football shape is to play the game itself.

By putting a player that isn’t in football shape on a snap count you are giving them an opportunity to work on their fitness. This may allow the player to improve his current shape while not forcing him to perform at an athletic level for a duration longer than he is able to.

Common reasons a player may be out of football shape includes lack of practice due to a contract dispute. As well as a late signing replacing an injured player after the conditioning portion of camp has already concluded.


Though it is less common than the answers above a player may be placed on a pitch count if they have yet to develop chemistry with the team.

In most cases, this would occur if a player was added to a team part way through a season. Upon arrival, it is not expected for the player to play an entire games worth of snaps in their next game.

To start this transition process a team may place the newcomer on a pitch count. This allows them to began to build chemistry with the team.

After a game or two with pitch counts and a few weeks of practice, a player should find they have built up adequate chemistry with their teammates to work together throughout a full game.


Similar to lack of chemistry and lack of knowledge of the playbook also can affect a players ability to get onto the field. When a player joins a team part way through the season he will not have an adequate understanding of the playbook.

This results in the incoming player only having the ability to play a limited number of plays. This means the player will only play in a limited number of snaps each game.

When this situation arises it is not always referred to as a pitch count but ultimately it is the same thing.

Where Did The Term Come From?

The term pitch count originally came from the game of baseball. When a baseball player returns from injury or an extended absence they are not expected to pitch a full game.

Instead, they are given a pitch count which in baseball means a set number of pitches the player can throw in the game.

This term was brought of to football and used in a similar way. The only difference being football measures the players usage by snaps played while baseball uses the measurement of pitches thrown.

Leave a Comment