Why do football teams defer?
The NFL team defers the coin toss to decide what to do in the second half. Additionally, it gives more information about the opponents as well as choosing which end zone you will defend.
The team that wins the coin toss has the option to defer their choice to the second half.
Deferring gives you more information about what your opponent will do. If they choose to receive first, then you know that they’re probably going to be playing for the offense. Then you can counter their strategy by choosing defense first and hoping for a three-and-out so that you get a good field position when it’s time for the offense.
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This is definitely an advantage, but only a small one, because even if the other team chooses defense-first after winning the toss, they could still be planning on playing for offense in the second half of the game anyway—that’s what most teams choose to do if they win the toss!
Advantages of deferring:
Choose between the ball first or second
As a general rule, the offense is given the option to defer its choice to the second half of the game. This gives both teams a chance to set up before they choose whether they want to kick or receive.
There are a few important distinctions, though. The offense will defer their choice if they win the coin toss and choose whether they are going first or second. If you are looking for a definitive answer, this is it, but remember that there may be other factors involved in your decision-making process.
For example, if you’re down by three with 30 seconds left on the clock in regulation and you’re kicking off from your own 40-yard line—you shouldn’t defer your choice. That means that if you win the coin toss, you’ll get to decide which way you want to go (and both teams will do so). Both teams will probably favor deferring for this scenario because there’s no need for equal footing at kickoff when one team has already lost possession of the ball (by choosing first).
There are two other circumstances where an offense might prefer that their opponent make their choice first: if it’s late in the fourth quarter and both touchdowns have been thrown; or if neither touchdown has been thrown yet in said situation but one team has lost possession (in a field goal situation) and needs only five yards for a “first down” instead of nine yards to pick up another one.
Winning a coin toss provides a small advantage
In the NFL, winning the coin toss is a small advantage, and most coaches and players agree that choosing to defer is best.
In 2014, Ben Baldwin of Smart Football did an analysis of teams’ decisions to defer and found that there was only a 1.5 percent difference between accepting or deferring in terms of win percentage. Even with numbers like these, as we’ve seen above, there’s still a clear advantage when choosing which end to defend.
The slight edge offered by choosing your end can be even more important if you’re not sure how good your defense will be against the opposing team’s offense. In other words: going on offense first doesn’t count for much unless your defense can hang with theirs.
A slight advantage to pick defer at any point
You’ve heard the advice about choosing between deferring or receiving for the 1st possession of the game. But do you know why it’s so important?
Deferring is not just a matter of giving your opponent a chance to catch his breath, or even to keep them from getting nervous. Although that’s probably true, it all really depends on whether you want to win the game.
For example: let’s say there are two teams in a game and you choose deferrals in turn 1. The team winning the coin toss has a slightly better chance of winning because they get an extra possession in the first quarter and have more time to think about their strategy before receiving the ball.
The other team might be less nervous because they know they’re going to get it back and can maybe try something new with their strategy. If both teams get one possession per half, and each has three plays, this means there will be four possessions every quarter (one in each half) for both teams.
So even if you don’t pick defer as your play in Turn 1, there’s still a slight advantage for your team if you pick defer at any point(s).
End zone picking teams have advantages on defense
In college, there is also another factor that should be taken into account when considering whether to defer to kick, receive or choose sides.
If you defer, you can choose which end zone you will defend at the start of the second half. Therefore, if you feel more comfortable defending a specific end zone (for example north goal) – go ahead and defer!
It’s important to remember that the team that picks the end zone will have an advantage on defense because they will know which direction their opponents will be coming from.
It can choose the end zone to defend
This practice is an example of a strategic decision that requires careful consideration by the coaching staff while they are preparing for each play. Student-athletes must learn and develop their own personal decision-making process based on their particular situation.
To teach this concept, we want to make it clear that there is no decisive advantage from deferring or kicking first in college football.
Although some coaches may recommend deferring so the offense has more time to prepare for the kick, the majority of coaches favor receiving to focus on the strategy for how to approach scoring points, rather than which end zone you kick into (this is because most teams prefer not having to defend against their opponent’s best field position).
In almost every situation, coaches can only hope that their strategy will yield the outcome they desire.
In practice, these decisions become even more difficult as each of your players has different strengths and weaknesses, so you have to be prepared for just about any situation you might encounter.
It’s important that you have a game plan in place before each quarter starts to ensure success during each drive.
No clear-cut choice: kicking & receiving in college football
There are a variety of factors to consider when coaches make their decision about whether or not to kick or receive the ball. For example, the coaching staff can take into account the down and distance, field position, and opponent’s ability to block a punt or kick (if applicable).
While there are clear advantages to receiving a kickoff from an opponent’s end zone in college football—the ball is at its most advantageous location for receiving and you have time to get into position—there are also disadvantages.
First of all, if the opposing team blocks your punt you could be forced back into the end zone where they will likely score.
But what if they don’t block it?
You need to play breakaway defense before getting back into your own territory. On top of that, you run out of gas faster than on kickoff plays; after about five minutes of in-game action, you’re running on fumes. If it’s third down, then even that disadvantage looks like a benefit because the opposing team can’t fake out with an onside kick because you’ll catch them throwing it anyway.
Why do football teams defer the coin toss?
Football teams have several reasons to defer the coin toss, but their main objective is to increase the odds of winning.
Winning the toss gives you control of the field and the ability to set up your play before your opponent has a chance to line up their defense, leaving them with fewer options than they might have if they had won.
Furthermore, if you win the toss and choose to kick or receive first, your team will have an advantage in how quickly momentum can be built for a score and whether or not you can get a lead on your opponent before they can even think about setting up a defense.
In the first quarter, this isn’t such an important thing—you’ll want to start quickly so that you can try for a first down; however in the second quarter, when tempers may be starting to fray, it’s crucial that you are able to put points on the board early and keep your opponents from mounting much of a comeback.
Why do football teams defer to the second half?
There are many benefits to choosing which end zone you want to defend. For instance, you can line up your defense based on the direction of play and your opponent’s tendencies.
If you’re playing a team that has a tendency to kick the ball out of its end zone, knowing whether you’ll have the ball in your own territory or in your opponent’s will affect which way you choose to defend. It’s not always something as simple as taking one side of the field or another, either—knowing what kind of offense is behind you can help tremendously when making these decisions.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while working at The Roar is that there’s almost always an advantage to having possession of the ball first.
In most cases, it doesn’t mean that possession is sacrosanct—there are certainly disadvantages to being the team defending first, such as allowing your opponent more time for rest and preparation or allowing him extra possessions before committing penalties within his own territory—but knowing how long management will let each team keep possession (and what they’ll do with that time) adds an extra layer of strategy for both sides.
Why do football teams defer the kickoff?
Football games are decided by which team has the ball. Both teams want to know where their opponent has the ball, but each wants to make sure that it’s where they want it. There are two ways to gain control of the football:
- Defend the line of scrimmage (i.e., go for a first down or punt)
- Go for a touchdown (score points before your opponent can score)
Is it common?
- NFL teams usually defer
- In college, it’s more of a coin toss
- High school teams have an equal chance of deferring
- Middle school teams tend to defer more often than they kick-off
- Peewee footballers are almost as likely to kick-off as they are to defer, so it’s pretty evenly split.
- Flag football and touch football players rarely ever choose to defer, but there have been some historic exceptions.