why nfl coaches wear headset

Why Do NFL Coaches Wear Headsets?

It is a common scene in the NFL to see coaches wearing headsets. Ever wondered who they are talking to on the sidelines? In most cases, only the coaching staff wear the headsets.

So, why do NFL coaches wear headset? NFL coaches wear headsets mainly to communicate with their assistants and players on the field. Coaches must communicate with their assistants and players to make better tactical game decisions.

Headsets are the only way a coach will relay information on plays to his quarterback. Looking to learn more about why NFL coaches wear headsets?

Keep reading below!

Football Coaching Communication

Communication in a football game is very important if coaches and players need to execute their game plan. But how does communication occur in football?

During a game, coaches in high school or even the NFL can find themselves near the stand corner and towards the press box for a better view. Such coaches require headsets to communicate with the coaching team.

There is a blind eye when coaches stand on the sidelines to get a better view of the offense and defense. This forces them to look for a vantage point. Simply put, coaches want the same view as what you see on TV.

With a better view, coaches can know which player is not playing accordingly and what schemes the opposition is running. But recently, NFL teams have installed booths to view the field better.

You’ll still see several coaches in the booth wearing headsets. Each coach on the booth usually plays a specific role, with the headsets being used solely for communication.

History Of Coaches’ Headsets

So how did coaches start to wear headsets? Let’s look at the history of headsets in the NFL.

The use of headsets in the NFL dates back to 1956, when inventors from the Cleveland area thought about a radio receiver. The aim was to have the radio receiver in the quarterback’s helmet for easy communication from the coaches on the sideline.

football coach communicating with team with headset

Before the invention of the radio receivers, coaches used signal languages to communicate with their players and assistants. The then Browns head coach Paul Brown tested the device in a preseason game.

However, the league banned the use of the device with players with coach-to-coach communication allowed.

It was until 1994 that the league allowed communication with quarterbacks using headsets. More expansion took place in 2008, with the league allowing defensive players to have a radio inside the helmet. A 1999 deal with Motorola saw the company produce wireless headsets for use in the NFL.

More improvements have occurred since then, with the league acquiring an exclusive and secret radio frequency in 2016. This has further improved communication in football, with coaches knowing every communication is secure.

Do All Coaches Wear Headsets?

Not every coach wears a headset on football. Everything depends on the coach’s roles and how they plan to communicate. In most cases, coaches will have a frequency channel for their offense and defense. This ensures there are no mix-ups in the communication.

Generally, head coaches can wear or choose not to wear headsets. It comes down to their specific roles. You can have offensive and defensive coordinators who are head coaches.

But sometimes, a head coach might opt to deal with game management and referees, leaving communication to other coaches.

How Do Football Coaches Communicate With Players?

Football coaches communicate with players using headsets. With thousands of fans screaming in the stadium, coaches need a simple and effective way to communicate with players.

In the past, coaches used signals to send play calls to the quarterback on the field. However, the opponents can easily read the signals and know what you’re planning.

This is why coaches in the NFL use headsets to talk directly to the quarterback or a defensive player on the field. The quarterback and one defensive player on the field will have a helmet with a radio to listen to what coaches have to say.

In most cases, the coaches have a dedicated channel for the defense and one for the offense. This is a channel for the quarterback in the offense and another for the linebacker in the defense.

The coach’s headset will have a speaker and a microphone. However, a defensive player and quarterback’s headset will only have a speaker to ensure one-way communication.

What Happens With Less than 15 Seconds?

In football games, the radio signal will go silent with less than 15 seconds or less left to play on the clock. This gives time for the quarterback to make a few decisions.

coach using gadgets in communication

Some of the common decisions that quarterbacks make during the last 15 seconds include:

  • A quarterback can take a penalty and lose 5 yards via a delay in action. This resumes communication
  • Quarterbacks can decide to call a timeout. This is only if time allows. The timeout ensures the players and coaches are in sync with the play they need to run
  • A quarterback might choose an audible if the defensive formation comprises a play.

Players have difficulty listening to the play calls in games with huge crowds. Take, for example, games between Kansas City and Seattle with huge crowds. 

Communication using headsets might not be possible even when you have more than 15 seconds. Quarterbacks must press their hands to the helmet to listen to play calls.

Do Football Players Have Speakers In Their Helmets?

Football players have speakers in their helmets. What most, if not all, football players lack in their helmets is a microphone. Usually, communication between the players and coaches is one way.

The coaches have microphones and communicate directly with players on the field. However, players can only listen and pass the message to the rest of the players.

But in a few instances, a player can wear a microphone for television reasons.

Can Coaches Talk To Quarterbacks During Play?

Yes, coaches can talk to quarterbacks in a football game during play up to the last 15 seconds before play ends.

Before players head to the fields, teams usually have a set-out playbook on how they will play. However, coaches will still communicate with their players on the same or depending on any changes that might arise.

In most cases, any communication from a coach to a quarterback tends to rotate around the playbook.

Which Headphones Do NFL Coaches Use?

In the NFL, coaches use the wireless Bose headset for seamless communication with other coaches and players.

The Bose SoundComm B30 is the official headset for NFL coaches. It’s an efficient headset with clear communication. The headsets feature a noise-canceling technology that only picks the voice of the person speaking into it.

The league also acquired an exclusive and secret FCC technology that ensures there is no interference with the frequency.

Why NFL Coaches Wear Headsets FAQs

football coach in blue shirt using headset

Can NFL Players Hear the Coach?

NFL players can hear the coach via their wireless headsets and the helmets’ radio. A quarterback and a defensive player can wear a radio frequency helmet where they can hear calls from the coach.

How Many Coaches Can Be Connected At Once?

Over 20 coaches can be connected to a communication network at once. However, most teams have two channels for offense and defense. One channel to the quarterback and another to the defensive player.

Overall, the best channels for communication need to be direct and short. You don’t want too many coaches clogged into a communication channel.

Can Football Coaches Use Headsets In The Rain?

A football coach can use headsets in the rain. But it depends on the type of headsets. If the headsets are waterproof and water-resistant, they can effectively be used in the rain.


Now you know why NFL coaches wear headsets. Unlike in the early day when coaches used signs to communicate with players, NFL coaches nowadays use headsets thanks to modern technology. 

Headsets offer a convenient way for coaches to communicate with their assistants and players on the field. A radio frequency on the quarterback and one of the defensive players allows them to get play calls from their coaches.

The technology on football headsets has evolved over the years, with the league using noise-canceling technology to ensure clear and secure communication.

Overall, technology in football is changing how the game is played and making it more efficient. As more technological advancements come about, we are certain that NFL will adopt more complex technologies to improve the game.

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