audible football

What Is Audible in Football?

A football game is always full of moves and countermoves as teams look to gain an advantage and score. You’ll sometimes see either the offense or defense team changing their play at the last minute. We refer to this as audible football.

So what exactly is audible football? Audible football is a last-minute call and adjustment of play shortly before play starts. It is an adjustment made at the line of scrimmage after the huddle but before the snap of a ball that starts play.

In a game of football, the offensive and defensive sides can make several adjustments as long as the center snaps the ball before the clock runs out. Football audible calls are common in the NFL. 

Looking to learn more about what is audible in football? Join me as I discuss more.

Who Calls an Audible?

Before we get started, let’s get a better understanding of what an audible means in football.

An audible is a play where the offense is ready to run play at the scrimmage line but decides to change their play at the last minute. Also known as verbal instruction, it changes a predetermined play at the very last minute. The determined way of play can easily be changed for something completely new.

In most cases, quarterbacks call audibles when they don’t like how the offensive play lines up the defensive formation. A quarterback in the team communicates the audible play using quarterback audible codes.

You’ll always see the offensive and defensive teams line up at the scrimmage line preparing for the next play. Team coordinators will always communicate play through radios.

Audible plays are usually made after the huddle and before the ball snaps. Any of the team can make multiple adjustments as long as the clock for snap has not run down.

Why Is It Called An Audible In Football?

The change of play is called an audible since it is done loudly. Either the defensive captain or the quarterback will announce the codeword canceling the predetermined play for a new setup to match the opposition formation.

The signal for an audible is a loud shout using a code. Code language and a signal are common in football when players want to achieve something.

For example, in fair catch rules, a player must raise the hand above the head and wave side to side. This is the complete opposite of audible calls where players use code words.

How Do Offensive Audibles Work?

In most games, the offense sets before a snap to start play. They usually take positions to avoid a false penalty start. According to NFL rules, offensive players should not move before the snap of the ball. 

The only exception is when the wide receivers or tight end move to the line of scrimmage as part of the play.

Players from both teams meet at the line of scrimmage after breaking the huddle. After lining up, they will study the formation of the opposing defense and act accordingly. 

By acting fast to match the defensive formation, the quarterback calls for an audible play.

How Do Defensive Audibles Work?

Audibles in the defense, and play-caller can not change. Here is what happens.

A safety or a linebacker serving as a defense will have a radio in the helmet. The radio is usually connected to the defensive coordinator on the coaching side. 

The relay of information from the defensive coordinator to the linebacker is what makes changes in the formation of play.

When calling for audibles, the defense can avoid setting up before a snap, in the same manner, the offense does. Team coaches and coordinators can also communicate to their defense using hand signals.

Benefits of Calling Audibles

Football audible calls are beneficial in so many ways helping teams defend or move further the field and score points. They play to help the overall objectives of a team.

The main objective of audible play football is to counter the other team’s strategy and formation. This can be by moving the ball towards their end zone or countering and stopping the other team’s progress.

football yardage

Each play is aimed at stopping the other team from gaining yardage. The objectives are easily attained when teams make audibles. When an audible play is made by the offensive, it helps them progress the ball down the opposition zone.

An audible play by the defensive side helps prevent the progress of the offensive team. Teams calling for audible play at the right time can prevent the quarterback from getting sacked.

The offense can fumble and lose morale when their quarterback is sacked. Overall, NFL audible calls can make the offense make great plays. They help quarterbacks assess defenses and make split-second decisions.

For the defense, audibles can help the defense prevent giving any more yards. It is more like cleat sheet soccer where the defense prevents the attack from scoring.

FAQs – Confusing Questions About Audible Football

How Do You Get Audibles in Football?

You get audibles in football when the quarterback or defensive captains communicate to their players and change play after the huddle and before the snap.

How Often Are Audibles Called?

Audibles in football can be called as many times as the quarterbacks or defensive captains deem. The offensive team can audible many times as long as the clock for the snap has not run down.

What Does It Mean To Take an Audible?

To take an audible means you’ve taken a last-minute decision after the huddle to change the play before the ball snap. An audible can be taken by the offensive or defensive team.

team raising football

Do College Quarterbacks Call Audibles?

College quarterbacks can call audibles as they graduate to higher levels and understand the game better.


Simply put, an audible in football is a last-minute change of play made by either the offensive or defensive after the huddle and before a snap to start play. 

It is a play that can change the predetermined play in the last seconds before the snap. An audible play is important and can help teams advance in the opposition half and score points. 

For the defense, audible play helps prevent the offensive team from gaining more yards.

Quarterbacks are majorly responsible for audible play for the offense while defense captains for audibles for the defense.

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