How to Use Snap Counts/Cadences

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Blue 22, Blue 22... Why? Well starter cadences are nearly as old as football itself and began their "lives" as a way for teams to audible. Very typically the cadence is based on a "color and a number", such as Green 19 or Blue 22. Inherent in this scheme of color/number is a live color, the audible color. Before we get to audibles let's look at the cadence itself. Usually they rhyme! For no reason other than it is melodic. Blueeeeeeeeeeeeee 22, Blueeeeeeeeeeeeee 22 sounds better than Blueeeeeeeeee 57, Blueeeeeeeeeeee 57. But the extension of the one syllable in the word "blue" gives a QB time to survey the field pre-snap. It also puts the rest of the team on notice that the snap counts has begun - so pay attention. It is usually the QB's personal preference as to the color he uses as long as it is not the "hot" color or audible color. At youth levels of football many young QBs are a bit nervous about projecting their voices and their cadences take on distinct words sometimes separated by a noticeable pause. Ready... Set... Hut is typical of the sounds of their cadence. But as you become more sophisticated as a QB, and as you progress though the higher levels of the game that cadence must change. Blueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 22, Blueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 22 with extended syllables for the color leads to set hut but spoken as all one word, as in "SetHut" or "SetHutHut", as the center is looking to snap the ball and gain a bit of a cheat step on the defender on the line opposite. Furthermore, QBs must strive to keep the same rhythm. Establishing Blueeeeeeeeeeee 22 SetHut cannot be change to Blueeeeeeeeeeee 22 Set ... Hut without causing chaos on your offensive line and pissing off the guys that protect you. The next element some teams use is called a "double count". In the huddle the QB would say double count. In essence the cadence is in two parts. The first part can be as long as the QB would like to survey the field. The second part is automatically on one. So it may sound like this: Blueeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 22, Blueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 22, (pause) Blueeeeeeeeeeee 22 SetHut. It is also useful for the center to snap the ball if he sees someone jump. This is used as opposed to going on two or three. The next piece involves "prompt" words. We all have heard Peyton Manning yell "Omaha". That tells the team that despite the delays the QB employed we are now going to snap the ball. So Omaha SetHut then becomes the cadence. That one word, Omaha, is the go word - we're about to snap the ball. This word can be anything, such as Phoenix, or Fuego. It is your choice. The cadence can then sound like this: Blueeeeeeeeeee 22 Blueeeeeeeeeeeee 22 Easy Easy... pause... Fuego SetHut. The "Easy Easy" lets the offensive line know we are slowing down and we might check it, then the Fuego alerts everyone that the snap is coming. This works great if you are a QB and you forget the snap count. Was it on three? Two? Fuego SetHut... covers up your forgetfulness. Another technique is the silent count. This can be used when the place is loud, but it has become more popular lately. If the QB is under Center the silent cadence begins when the QB taps the center. The Center will then alert everyone else by making a movement with his head, in some cases he raises his head abruptly or moves his head side to side. Then the ball is snapped. The silent count can also be accomplished from the gun. It can be triggered by a foot raise or by the QB's hand dropping down. The Center then gives his head movement and the ball snapped. The hand has become more popular as the foot raise may signal motion. If your Center doesn't like looking between his legs because he feels at a distinct disadvantage you can designate your guard to get the signal from the QB and then tap the Center. The last thing I want to talk about is the audible. A team will have a "live" color, say for sake of argument, it is "Red". The QB will want to survey the field before saying anything. You don't want to approach the line and say Blueeeeeeeeeeeee 22, then decide to use the hot color. Now everyone knows your hot color. Rather, if possible you change the play directly. So Redddddddddddddd 44, Reddddddddddddddddd 44 SetHut triggers a pre-determined play set by the Coaching staff. The other more common form an audible can take is a simple code word to represent a play. Perhaps one code word representing a pass play and one a run play. Say, for instance, Delta tells the team to run off tackle to the right. So cadence might sound like: Greennnnnnnnnnnnnnn 19 Greennnnnnnnnnnn 19, Delta, Delta ... pause... Fuego SetHut. This could also become: Greennnnnnnnnnnnn 19 Greennnnnnnnnnn 19, Easy Easy, Delta Flop, Delta Flop... pause... Fuego SetHut the "Flop" word added to Delta tells the team we are running off tackle, not to the right, but to the left. That's my two-cents on cadences. Have fun.

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