|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2007)|
In gridiron football, "hard count" is a strategy used by offenses, often to convert on fourth down with less than five yards to go. In this situation, an offense will take the full time on the play clock with the quarterback utilizing an irregular, accented (thus, the term "hard") cadence for the snap count in the hope that the defense will jump offside, giving the offense the five yards needed to convert the first down. However, if the defense does not go offside, the offense will either call a time out or take a five-yard penalty for delay of game and punt the ball away.
Some offenses utilize the "hard count" throughout the game in order to confuse the defense. However, the offensive line must be disciplined and in step with the quarterback to avoid a false start.