Football: How to Avoid Substitution Confusion

Football: How to Avoid Substitution Confusion

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

Do you ever have mix-ups when substituting your football players? For example: players not knowing they're supposed to come off; two players coming off for one sub; incoming players forgetting who to take off?    

Any of these issues can cause confusion on the next play and delay-of-game calls.

Here's a substitution system that will prevent such problems. It works for flag football as well as full-?contact. In fact, you can use it in other sports as well.

Substitution System
Require all players who are “subbing in” to do two things:

  1.  As they cross the sideline onto the field, they must shout the name of the player they're replacing.
  2. They must also slap the hand of the player they are replacing.

If you see players running across the sideline without shouting the name of the teammate they're replacing, call them back and have them do it again.

With this system, players being replaced will be warned by the shout, which gives them a head start in running off the field. The result will be quicker substitutions. The slap on the hand confirms that the exiting players are indeed the ones who should come off the field.

No player will leave the field unless their hand has been slapped. This prevents two players from coming off for one sub.

Reference: Dave Cisar, (Founder,  President and Coach, Screaming Eagles Football, Omaha, Nebraska), “Youth Practice Organization: Keeping the Fire.”  A DVD from Championship Productions, 2009.

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