Before the snap is received from the quarterback, he can often be seen lifting his leg up and down on the ground.
The leg lift could pertain to different things, depending on the offensive coordinator. Let’s break down the 3 instances a quarterback will lift his leg…
Cadence To Snap The Ball
The most obvious use case of use the quarterback lifting his leg before the snap is to signal to the center that he wants the football. This can often be seen by the quarterback lifting his front foot and then putting it back on the ground.
The center, who is looking between his legs, will see the foot go up and down and snap the football. The leg lift is a great indicator for teams who are spread out, especially in 10 personnel, and are playing in a loud stadium.
Verbal cadences do not travel well, sometimes they can hardly be heard by the offensive lineman who are 2-3 feet away from the quarterback. Using a simple leg lift, will activate the center to snap the football.
The lineman will react to the ball snap or the players rushing at them if it’s a pass move. Wide receivers and running backs will react off the ball snap when the leg lift cadence is in use. It’s not the best solution, as verbal is more efficient, but for loud environments it’s best to improvise.
The leg lift is often used as a dummy cadence, or a “fake” cadence. It essentially means that the quarterback is trying to fake the snap of the ball, and forces the defense to show their coverage or blitz (if there is one).
The innovation of the spread game has forced defenses to cover the entire field. Teams will often show one look, then roll to another look. In order for the quarterback to expose the defensive coverage, they must fake a snap count, let the defense disguise what they’re in, then make the proper adjustments.
Quarterbacks to watch who use the dummy cadence from time to time is Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
Teams may use one leg lift as a dummy cadence, or even two leg lifts. Aaron Rodgers can be seen lifting his leg up and down multiple times before the play. This may be the case if a team is changing the play once or twice before the snap of the football.
Hurry up teams, or teams who move up-tempo can be seen using multiple leg lifts to put their offense in the perfect position to counter act the defense.
Sending a Player In Motion
The final reason why quarterbacks will lift their leg in the air and put it back on the ground is to send a player in motion.
This is all based on the offensive coordinators preference. Some coordinators will elect for the point or some sort of hand signal to trigger a motion call. If the quarterback is under center or in the shotgun, they will lift their leg to send a player in motion.
The leg lift or a back tap as some call it, is a simple way to send players in motion across the formation before the ball is snapped. At the youth level, it helps younger/newer players identify the motion and get in the correct position.
This type of motion is typically seen at the lower levels (high school and youth), as higher levels would use the leg lift as a way to undress the defensive coverage.
If you were to implement the leg lift cadence, what would it be for?
If you already have the leg lift cadence into your offense, why do you use the leg lift cadence? Let us know in the comment section below!