The count in football refers to the number of words a quarterback shouts before the ball to be snapped.
Before the play, the quarterback will communicate with his teammates the number of words he will say before the ball is snapped.
For example, let’s say the word that the offense used when snapping the ball is “hut”. In the huddle, the quarterback may say the count is on three.
The quarterback will then walk up behind the center and start the count. The quarterback will then yell “hut, hut, hut”. On the third “hut” the ball will be snapped as the count was three.
The center along with the other offensive players will start the play on the third hut.
Having all the players on the offense know when the ball is going to be snapped makes it more likely they will be ready for the play.
Variations of the count in football
Like most things in football, there are other strategies that can be applied to the count.
On top of doing the count normally as described above teams will use different kinds of counts in order to get an advantage over their opponents.
Common examples of this include the hard count and the silent count.
The hard count
The hard count in football is an intentionally aggressive count that has the purpose of getting the opponents to commit a penalty.
Before the ball is snapped defensive players may not cross the line of scrimmage.
By faking the count the offense hopes to get a defender to jump across the line of scrimmage thinking the play has started.
If the play is blown dead the offense will get to move the ball five yards down the field.
Though if the play is not blown dead the offense may be able to get a free play. This occurs when the offense knows a penalty is called against the defense.
Since they can accept the penalty and negate whatever happens on the free play the offense has a chance to take a big risk.
NFL defenses have become quite aware of teams attempting to trick them with a hard count. For this reason, it is difficult to get a team to bite on a hard count these days.
That being said every once and a while an effective hard count can have a major impact on a game.
Some teams prefer to use a silent count in football instead of using the traditional count we explained above.
In a silent count, teams use non-verbal cues or motions to let the center know it is time to snap the ball.
One of the main reasons that teams use snap counts in football is to overcome loud crowds. In football-playing an away game can be quite difficult for the offense.
The stadium noise can often make it difficult for offensive players to communicate with each other.
If the players cannot hear each other they will not be able to hear the snap count.
Additionally, defensive players often get a feel for an opposing team’s snap count and begin to jump the snap.
This can give them a big advantage as they can get off the line quickly to start the play.
By using a silent count these players will no longer be able to use the verbal cues to sense the ball is about to be snapped.
Common ways that teams communicate a silent count is via the quarterback stomping their feet or the guard tapping the center on the shoulder.