In football, quarterbacks direct the entire team's offense; they are responsible for everything that happens in a play. To steer clear of disaster, a quarterback considers practicing several tactics and techniques before a snap. From licking the fingers of their throwing hand to shouting "Omaha," the rituals get pretty specific. Today, we will focus on when a QB lifts their leg. What's up with that? Let's find out!
Why do quarterbacks lift their leg before the snap?
If you've ever watched an NFL game, then you've witnessed the quarterback lifting their leg off the ground. It's very brief; you might even miss it sometimes because of how fast it happens. The Los Angeles Times spoke with former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers about the movement.
"It’s a snap-count thing when you’re on the road, and teams do it different ways. Some teams have the guard look back, so when you lift your leg, the guard taps the center to say, 'Let’s go,'" he explained.
"Obviously, different teams, and we do it, they change up that snap count. So sometimes we don’t snap it on the first time I raise my leg. We wait, and we do it on the second time. Just like you’d do a hard count if you were at home," he continued. "Some teams have a center look between his legs, and then they go off the foot. So all the leg-raising is snap count in the shotgun when you’re on the road.”
Another reason why a quarterback lifts their leg is to send a player into motion. Per Viqtory Sports, "As some call it, the leg lift, or a back tap, is a simple way to send players in motion across the formation before the ball is snapped. It helps younger/newer players identify the motion and get in the correct position at the youth level." The publication also noted that this isn't seen much at the professional level.
Quarterbacks lift their leg as a necessary measure in loud stadiums.
These days, most collegiate and professional football games occur in packed stadiums. With the level of noise the crowd produces, it's almost impossible for the players to hear a verbal command from their quarterback.
"Coaches wear headsets to block out the noise; players need an alternative to the verbal cadence to block out the noise. Their alternative is to use the leg lift or the hand wave to tell the center to snap the football," writes Viqtory Sports.
"Communication from quarterback to the center is one of the, if not the most important, communication to happen on the field," they continue. "Negative and game-changing plays happen when the ball is snapped either too early or at the wrong time."
When you have the offensive advantage, you want to make sure you communicate as clearly as possible. The quarterback needs to take initiative and set his players up, and if lifting their leg is the way to do that successfully, then we fully support it.