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What is a Take a Knee Chart?
A take a knee chart in football is used by football coaches to determine when they can have the offense take a knee, an almost risk-free play that is designed to run time off the clock at the end of the game.
This strategy is used when the offense is ahead at the end of a game and wants to preserve their lead until the clock runs out.
The offense will line up in the “victory formation” which is designed to minimize the chances of a mistake or a turnover on this play. The quarterback will take the snap and then immediately kneel down, which counts as a run play, meaning that the clock will continue to run and the play clock will reset.
If the opponent is out of timeouts, they will be unable to stop the clock, causing the clock to stop and running out the remaining time in the game. The chart will usually show the positions of the offensive players on the field and the order in which they should move to execute the play.
Example of a Take a Knee Chart
See the image below for an example of a take a knee chart that a coach will use in a game.
The Importance of Clock Management
Clock mismanagement is a common problem in football and one way to avoid it is to be prepared for certain scenarios at the end of the game. In fact, you could argue that football clock management is the primary responsibility of the head coach if he is not responsible for calling the offensive or defensive plays.
Coaches must be diligent in their efforts to manage the clock effectively, and practicing situations with your players, as well as discussing these situations with the rest of the coaches on staff is a very valuable exercise, especially for the offensive team in a “kill the clock” situation, since the offense has so much control over the pace and speed of the game.
These days high school football in most states follows very similar timing rules to college football, so with the change to the 40 second play clock across the country, the offense has the ability to take even more time off the clock during the course of a game. Unlike the NFL, there is no two minute warning in high school or college football, but just like the NFL, teams must be careful about calling pass plays when trying to run down the clock.
A completed pass that ends with the ball carrier tackled in bounds will keep the clock moving, but throwing incomplete passes on the previous play will stop the clock, leaving an extra 40 seconds that the offense will have to get rid of on another play.
Make enough mistakes in a close game, and you may leave enough time for the opponent to get the ball back and drive for a game winning touchdown or field goal.
Football is one of the most challenging sports to coach, and a large part of that is because of the importance and complexity of the clock rules.
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