Do football players have speakers in their helmets?

Football players do not have speakers in their helmets, however, only professional football players are permitted to wear helmet speakers. Only one offensive and one defensive player may have speakers. Football players are not permitted to wear microphones in their helmets to communicate with coaches. 

It is unlawful for a coach to use a microphone/speaker to communicate directly to the quarterback in youth, high school, and college. Because noisy, chaotic crowd situations make hearing difficult, college teams utilize image boards and hand gestures to announce plays.

The NFL (or professional leagues) are now the only ones that employ communication technology. A speaker is a tiny gadget that is placed in the quarterback’s helmet and allows him to hear the coach. Here’s a wonderful Sports Nation video that explains the chronology of when the audio speaker was initially integrated into the helmet.

Do NFL Players Have Headphones And/Or Microphones In Their Helmets?

Some NFL players are now permitted to wear headphones inside their helmets, although this was not always the case. Until 1994, radio contact between coach and player was not authorized.

Even back then, rigorous guidelines for headset use were in place:

  • Mics are only available to two players at a time.
  • Communication is one-way only.
  • Once the play clock reaches 15 seconds, communication between the coach and the on-field player is shut off.
  • When one side fails to communicate, both teams must stop using headsets.

Communication devices were first invented in the 1950s. According to Ear Rockers, some Cleveland Browns supporters created a radio gadget for the Browns quarterbacks to utilize. The Browns utilized it against the Detroit Lions, but their coach objected and the gadgets were prohibited.

When the prohibition was removed, just two players were allowed to use headsets: the quarterback on offense and a linebacker on defense. These players may hear the plays from a coordinator on the field, implying that a coach in the booth cannot communicate with the players.

Do College Football Helmets Have Speakers?

In college football, the use of speakers for communication during a play is prohibited. The same is true for adolescents and students in high school.

Even if it were allowed, the use of speakers would be useless for some college teams. Some rival teams’ fans make the stadium so loud that a player wouldn’t be able to hear the speaker otherwise.

Instead, players and coaches communicate through hand signals and imageboards. They work well in fast-paced attacks like the spread. Other offensive systems and coaches, on the other hand, use signals and boards in their play. To keep up with the quicker games, defenses have to add hand signals.

In certain instances, utilizing them is preferable to using speakers. It confuses, throws off, and wears out the defenders, according to VIQtory Sports. The faster you move, the more out of rhythm your opponents become, much like football. This opens the way for a huge play to occur.

Overuse of signals and signs, on the other hand, might have a detrimental impact on the offensive. Too many quick play calls will wear out key offensive positions, resulting in less successful plays or more punting to the other side.

How Do They Hear Amongst The Noise?

It was difficult for years since the headsets used radiofrequency. Furthermore, at the time, the coaches’ headsets were connected and contained one or two cans, depending on the coach’s desire.

It wasn’t until Bose entered the picture as the official headset sponsor that things started to change. They were one of the top noise-canceling headset makers. Communication between coach and player is made simpler as a result of this agreement, even in a noisy arena.

Do Coaches Talk To Their Quarterbacks During Games?

When the offense gathers in the huddle, the quarterback announces the next play to the squad. Adjustments are performed before the snap. One player may change positions, the quarterback may instruct the offensive line to block a specific direction, or a different route may be called. The entire play may be altered.

All of this is done at the quarterback’s request. However, not all of these instructions are based on the quarterback’s intuition. The offensive coordinator directs many of the play calls and some of the audibles.

In the NFL, each play has 40 seconds to begin from the end of the previous down. If the previous play was an inbounds stop (run, completed pass, knee, etc.), the play clock begins to count down from that moment. The clock stops if the last play was a pass incompletion or a run out of bounds.

This is significant because it influences whether or not a coach has time to speak with the quarterback. In essence, the coach has 25 seconds to say whatever he wants to the quarterback before communication is cut off.

Once the play clock reaches 15 seconds, it is up to the quarterback to make any pre-snap changes. The coach has no say in the matter. The quarterback must be informed whether an audible is required owing to the defensive package. The coach is unable to point this out to him.

The same protocol applies when the defensive coordinator speaks with a linebacker.


To conclude, football helmets, in general, do not include speakers. Certain crucial players on the pitch, though, will have speakers built into their helmets. While on the field, the speaker will be in one offensive player’s helmet, generally the quarterback’s, and one defensive player’s helmet.

About Sean Pamphilon

Sean Pamphilon is an American sports television producer turned documentary filmmaker. He produced multiple television features on National Football League player Ricky Williams for Fox Sports and ESPN, and he later directed the Williams documentary, Run Ricky Run, for ESPN's award-winning documentary series 30 for 30 with film partner Royce Toni.

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