Why Do Football Coaches Wear Headsets?

Have you ever been watching an NFL game and wondered why almost all the coaches on the sideline are wearing headsets?

Wearing a headset as a football coach is done by every single team in the NFL. But since this is not done in other major sports like baseball, hockey, or basketball it leaves many fans wondering what the purpose is.

Football coaches wear headsets in order to communicate with their players, talk to other coaches, and communicate with their staff that alerts them when to challenge a play.

Communicating With Their Players

coach looking at plays with headset

One of the main reasons that football coaches wear headsets and mics on the sideline is to communicate with their players while they are on the field.

In football one defensive player and one offensive player are allowed to have a built in speaker in their helmet.

The two positions that have the speaker in their helmet are almost always the quarterback and the middle linebacker

These speakers allow the coaching staff to communicate with the player prior to the play. The coaching staff can pass along a play call, words of confidence or even advice to call on audible based on the defense.

When the play clock starts the speaker will then be used to relay information from the coaching staff to the quarterback. But the coach and player can only communicate for a limited amount of time.

Once the play clock ticks down to fifteen seconds the coach and the player will no longer be able to communicate through the radio in the helmet.

All communication into the helmet is one way, meaning only the coach can talk to the player.

This addition of speakers in helmets has made a large difference in playcalling in football. Previously teams would have to substitute players each play to relay the play call.

These players would be told the play before being substituted onto the field and would then state the play to the others in the huddle.

Nowadays the coaching staff can simply say the play call into their headset and the quarterback will know what play to run.

Talking To Other Coaches

coach talking on headset

Another reason that football coaches wear headsets is to communicate with one another. Not all football fans know this but some coaches prefer to spend the game up in a booth similar to the commentators.

This can give them a better vantage point of the field, the only trouble is they are now too far from the head coach to communicate.

Offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators are a few examples of coaches that may spend the game in the booth above the field. These coaches will need to stay in contact with the head coach throughout the game.

Discussions regarding players’ health or playcalling are things that coordinators need to communicate with the head coach. To make up for the lack of distance these coaches use their headsets to communicate.

To make sure this communication between coaches remains consistent there are a strict set of rules regarding who can wear headsets and how many are allowed on each team.

Challenging A Play

coaches speaking with headsets on

When watching football games on television you may have noticed that coaches are almost always on their headsets prior to throwing a red challenge flag.

The reason that this happens is that coaches have staff that are responsible for alerting the coach when to challenge a play.

Since coaches are on the sideline they are not always going to have the best access to instant replays of what happened on the field. This means they are not always able to tell if the referee’s decision was correct or not.

For this reason, staff members will have the job of watching these replays closely to determine if a flag should be thrown.

If these staff members notice an incorrect call they will radio to the head coach telling them to throw the challenge flag.

The headset allows these staff members to communicate quickly to the coach.

This is important because only the most recent play can be challenged. If the opposing team is able to start the next play the head coach will no longer be able to challenge the previous ruling by the officials.

Additionally having an idea if you can accurately win a challenge is important. Teams only have two challenges per half. Although if a team wins their challenges they will be given one more.

Incorrectly challenging a play in the NFL is also going to result in a lost timeout. Only three timeouts are given to each team per half. Timeouts can be valuable for stopping the play clock or buying a short break for your team during the game.

This makes the accuracy of challenging plays fairly important. Having a team dedicated to watching these replays and determining if they should be challenged can be vital.

Using the headset to relay messages from this team to the head coach is what allows the head coach to throw the challenge flag before the ball is snapped for the next play.

That concludes our article on this topic. If you were wondering why college football coaches wear headsets you may be wondering why they are often escorted by police as they enter the football game.

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