Hating the Clap Snap
Hate is a strong word, I don’t hate anyone, but I do severely dislike some actions. One of the actions on that short list is the clap snap. You know when a College or NFL team has a Quarterback that claps his hands together when he wants the Center to snap the ball ? Yep that’s the one, it aggravates the heck out of me when I see youth football coaches using it.
Why do NFL and College teams clap to signal in the snap? College or NFL football players are usually playing in front of crowds from 60,000 to 100,000 people. Those are usually rabid fans who are paying $60-$250 for the privilege of cheering their favorite team onto victory. Many of these fans have been looking forward to that game all week and go with friends. Many imbibe in libations in the hours leading up to the game, helping to catapult themselves into a fever pitch come game time.
These fans are LOUD. They pride themselves on being able to disrupt the game with their noise. As we all know a well-timed delay of game or offsides penalty can be a drive killer and crowd noise can help make that happen. It’s really the only way a fan impact the game and they love doing it. NFL and College teams will practice with the stadiums loudspeakers blaring crowd noise on, so they can simulate these situations.
That’s why teams came up with the clap snap. Wideouts couldn’t hear the cadence and sometimes in extreme cases the Linemen and Running Backs couldn’t hear the cadence either. They can however hear and of feel the vibration of the Quarterback clapping. The backs and wideouts can see when the Quarterback claps- but so can the Defenders. Some College and NFL teams will also fake a clap to see how the Defense will be responding to the snap of the ball. The Quarterback can often times pick up blitzes or identify coverage disguises by seeing how Defenders respond to what looks like a snap.
I see youth football teams trying to copy what they see on TV by going to a clap snap. Before we all jump on the bandwagon, let’s examine a typical youth football game. Most teams rarely have more than 200 people at a game, some have far less. In any event, while we can hear the parents yelling behind us on occasion, rarely does the noise reach the point where the kids can’t hear the cadence from the Quarterback.
When you have a clap snap, the Offensive Linemen are moving on ball movement, the very same thing the Defensive Lineman are moving on. There is no advantage to the Offensive side of the ball when both the Offense and Defense are responding to the very same cue. When you have a verbal cadence, the Offensive Linemen know the cadence and are anticipating it, the Defensive Linemen are working on ball movement. The Offensive Lineman and for that matter ALL of the Offense has a huge advantage knowing the snap count. We teach our Offensive Linemen to anticipate the cadence and go a millisecond before. By the time their brain tells their body to move, the snap is on the move. Speed and establishing leverage are the MOST important thing when it comes to the Oline, getting that second foot established before the defender does, with leverage is key. Getting off before the defense does, helps you do that, knowing the cadence is a huge tool to help you do just that. See our cadence clap count drills in the Offensive Line DVD and e-book.
Why would you want to give that advantage up in order to look like an NFL or College team, when the primary problem the NFL and College teams are trying to solve with that snap DOESN’T EXIST IN YOUTH FOOTBALL? Want to see how to spot a well-intentioned guy who consistently loses coaching youth football? Look at someone who tries to copy the NFL or College teams without understanding that in MANY ways, the youth game is a different animal, a different equation.
For more information on how to better understand the youth football equation, how to win in it and some tips on how to get your linemen out of the gate quickly go to //winningyouthfootball.com