Football coaches can often be seen on the sidelines wearing either 1 earpiece or a full 2 earpiece headset. Who are these coaches talking to and why are they wearing the headset?
On Friday (for high school games), Saturday (for college games) and Sunday (for NFL games), coaches can be seen pacing up and down the sideline with a headset on their head. These headsets are mandatory for coaches for one reason: information.
Information To The Booth
Coaches on the field will have headsets that connect to coaches that are at a higher elevation point, most often a “booth”. In high school football, coaches may find themselves above on to of the press box, or even tucked in the corner of the stands to give themselves a vantage point.
From the sidelines, coaches aren’t able to get the proper angle to see the complete picture of what the offense or defense is playing. Similar to the view you see on TV, that’s the birds-eye view the coaches are looking to get.
This view helps coaches break down scheme and can identify (faster) which player is not doing their job.
With the most recently installment of sideline technology, coaches are able to take the information they get in the booth, and immediately apply it to on-field visuals.
In the booth, there’s often anywhere from 2-6 coaches who also have headsets on. Their jobs are separated into offense, defense, special teams and often times, game management.
Famous head coach Bill Belichick is said to have a personal assistant, Ernie Adams, who is in the booth at all times during games. He helps Bill with rules, challenges and just general football help outside of the X’s & O’s.
Cancelling Out The Noise Factor
Have you ever seen Happy Valley during a Penn State football game? If you haven’t here’s a visual of 110,000 college kids screaming their lungs out:
Coaches also use these headsets to communicate to other coaches on the sideline, without have to battle the noise factor. Coaches will often have a 2 ear piece headset which helps block the noise so the coaches can communicate effectively.
Does Every Coach Wear A Headset?
Not necessarily, it typically depends on the coach. Most coaches will have their a frequency channel for their offense, and one for their defense. This way the channel’s discussions are organized.
Even so, head coaches may or may not be wearing a headset. Some head coaches are offensive and defensive coordinators. In this case, they must have direct communication with the booth in order to make changes on the go.
Other times, head coaches will just manage the game and not have a headset. This allows them to focus on time management, dealing with the referees and pumping up their players.
How Many Coaches Can Be Connected At Once?
Depending on the system, 20+ coaches can be connected to the communication network. As mentioned above, most teams will have 2 channels, one for offense and one for defense.
However, too many coaches can mean a clogged channel. The best communication is short and direct communication. Especially if the quarterback is trying to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, the last thing you want is an offensive coordinator who’s mind is bogged down.
What If One Teams Headset Breaks?
If a team is unable to get their headsets working, the other team must shut down there communication. It’s a rule that we commonly see in the NFL.
During the middle of a game, because of all the cell phones and information that is being passed around the stadium, headsets may get interfered with. Technology has since come a long way, but we still see intereferences with headsets.
The most notable headset fiasco was with Bill Walsh’s 49ers team and Bill Parcels’ New York Giants. As Parcels is famously quoted:
Walsh liked to script plays at the beginning of the game. Against the Giants one year, the headsets on his sideline happened to go out. Not as big of a deal since he knew what the 49ers were going to do at the start of the game anyway. But that meant the Giants and Bill Parcells had to put their headsets down too.
“Getting ready to play them again next year in the playoffs, and I said to Bill, ‘These phones go out again to start the game, I’m gonna expose you,'” Parcells recalled. “He looked at me with a little wink and says, ‘Just a little gamesmanship.’ And I said, ‘I understand.'”
Headsets play a major role in communication for coaches. Without headsets, adjustments wouldn’t be able to be made at the rapid rate in which they are made. Offenses and defenses would get exposed more frequently.
How do you utilize headsets during your games or even practices? Let us know in the comments below!