What is the Snap Count in Football?

The Snap Count is the process of hiking a football at the line of scrimmage. A quarterback will direct his team, and more specifically, his Center, to deliver him the ball on a predetermined count. When the ball is snapped at the end of the Snap Count, the offensive play begins.

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Clemson QB is calling out the snap count at the line of scrimmage.
Shotgun formation. On two.

The whole purpose of determining the Snap Count is to fool the defense into thinking the ball will be snapped at a different time than what they are guessing. The best Quarterbacks have excellent command over the Snap Count and can regularly keep the defense at bay. The Snap Count itself is usally decided upon during the pre-play huddle.

That's what makes a no-huddle offense so challenging to pull off, the lack of time to determine the Snap Count prior to arriving at the line of scrimmage.

Examples of Snap Count Language and Lingo

Snap Count vs Snap Counts

The Snap Count is a very different concept than Snap Counts. Snap Counts are the number of times a player plays a position on the field during a football game. The GOAT Tom Brady tends to have his season Snap Counts close to 100% as he despises coming off the field. That's fairly true of the QB position anyway.

Whereas kickers and punters tend to have low Snap Counts due to the specificity of the type of plays they are involved in. The same is true for long snappers.

Where Snap Counts tend to come into play is in the forecasting of bettors and fantasy football players around the world. They will read Week 1 and Week 2 snap counts and try and predict just how much a given player will see the field in Week 3 to try and aid their process.

By that rationale, all NFL teams track each others Snap Counts to help establish competitive advantages through game-planning. In that regard, the Texans are no different than Steelers, and so on throughout the league. Teams with QBs who master the Snap Count tend to stand a better chance of winning the Super Bowl than those that don't.

Future Hall of Fame Quarterback, Tom Brady, is a master of the snap count
One of the best to work the snap count

How Does a Silent Snap Count work?

Here is an important statement on a Silent Snap Count from PhiladelphiaEagles.com, "Every player has to be focused on the snap count, which, when using a Silent Count, is calculated in each player's head as a series of beats. Once the players recognize the specific non-verbal cue that is given, they each count silently in their heads to know when the ball will be snapped."

Silent Snap Counts are far more necessary on the road, where the Away teams face crowds who are actively trying to disrupt the opposing team's Snap Count. So, a silent snap count is necessary to be able to communicate effectively when you can't hear.

Silent Snap Counts are also quite useful when playing against the Colts, as they are notorious for pumping in crowd noise.

Disconcerting Acts or Signals

According to the NFL rulebook, defensive players are prohibited from messing with the actual Snap Count. Disconcerting Acts or Signals, or, simulating the snap count, is considered to be an Unsportsmanlike Penalty, resulting in a loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down for the offense.

"Using acts or words by the defensive team that are designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap. An official must blow his whistle immediately to stop play."

One place where Disconcerting Signals is allowed during the Snap Count is during a match of QB54.

References & Sources