In the modern game of football it is absolutely necessary that before each play a signal should be given, which will inform every man on the team of the movement about to be executed. Every player has a special duty to perform each time the ball is snapped, and unless he is informed beforehand of the evolution intended, it will be impossible to render the requisite assistance. It is of equal importance that the opposing team should be kept in absolute ignorance in regard to the intention of the play, so that they may not anticipate and thwart it.

That code of signals will be best, then, which will indicate in the simplest manner the play intended, while at the same time being unintelligible to opponents. Too frequently such a complicated system of signals is adopted that the players themselves become confused, or at least are unable to comprehend the order upon the instant, and the momentary delay thus caused proves a great disadvantage. There is far less likelihood that the opposing team will be informed by the signal what play is intended, than that they shall discover its probable direction by the position assumed or nervousness betrayed by some one of the backs or rushers.

There are three systems of signals which have a practical value : Sign signals, word signals, and number signals. Sign signals possess one advantage which neither of the other two can claim. They can be understood with readiness amid the most deafening cheering from the side lines. It often happens that the cheering is so continuous at critical moments during the great' matches, where many thousand people are assembled, that for several moments the play is almost paralyzed on account of the inability of the captain to make his orders heard. It is readily perceived what an advantage it would be to have a code of signals which would direct the play rapidly and unerringly at such a time.

On the other hand, there is, perhaps, more danger that the opposing team may notice and soon learn to under stand signs than when spoken signals are used, for it is necessary that each man on the side shall look at the quarter-back or captain at the time when he gives the signal (usually this will be when the men are lining up), and this will of necessity attract more or less attention to what it is expressly desired to cover up. Every team would do well, however, to have a complete system of sign signals, which they can use at critical times in case of emergency.

The following extract from a code once in operation will furnish suggestions which will enable any ingenious captain to devise a practical set: Pull up trousers on right side - rh between c and rg. Pull up trousers on left side - lh between c and lg. Right hand on right thigh - rh between rg and rt. Right hand on left thigh - rh between lg and lt. Right hand on right knee - rh between rt and re. Right hand on left knee rh between lt and le. Right hand on collar on right side - rh around re. Right hand on collar on left side rh around le. Right hand on chin - rt around between lg and lt. Right hand on right hip re around the le. Pull on jacket lacings kick down the field.

Similar motions with the left hand will direct corresponding plays in the opposite direction. The motions should be made so naturally that they will not attract attention, but in deciding upon movements care should be taken not to select those which will be used involuntarily, lest signals be given sometimes without intention.

In the system of word signals peculiar expressions, such as "Brace up now," "Nowbrace," "Hold your men hard," "Tear up this line," "We must do better now," and the like, introduced by the captain with a few offhand sentences before each play, direct the next movement. Again, speaking to the left tackle may indicate that the left half-back is to run around the right end, each man being made to indicate a different evolution; and a word of encouragement or blame thus be made the signal for the next play.

Perhaps the system of signaling by numbers is most simple and satisfactory, for it admits of a great variety of combinations, and the key will not be readily detected. Sometimes a long sequence of numbers are called out, the signal being conveyed by the first two or three, and the others being added merely to mystify the opposing side, but a combination of three numbers is rather preferable.

A very simple code may be arranged, in which each opening is given a number, and each player a number. The combination of two numbers, then, will indicate the man who is to receive the ball, and the opening through which he is to pass, while a third will be called for the sake of deception. For example: We will suppose that the openings in the line, as they radiate from the center, have been numbered 4, 6, 8, and 10, respectively, upon the right, and 5, 7, 9, and 11 upon the left; the centerrusher will be No. 1, rg will be 2, rt will be 4, re will be 6, and rh will be 8; while on the left LG will be 3, lt will be 5, le will be 7, and lh will be 9, with fb 11. We will further suppose that but three numbers are to be given each time; that the first number called will mean nothing; the second number called will indicate the player who is to receive the ball; and the third number the opening through which he is to pass.

To illustrate: The captain calls "9, 5, 8!" The 9 means nothing. The second number indicates the player who is to receive the ball, which in the present instance is No. 5, the left tackle. The third number shows the opening through which he is to pass - in this case No. 8, and hence between rt and le. The interpretation of the signal, then, is that lt is to receive the ball, pass around the center, and dash into the line between rt and re.* Thus any combination desired may be effected.

If, after a time, the opposing team discovers the signal for one or more of the plays, the entire system may be changed by simply informing the team by a peculiar signal, previously arranged, that the first number will thereafter indicate the opening, while the third will indicate the player who is to take the ball. The three numbers admit of six different arrangements, and the team should be drilled upon at least three of them until they can execute the plays with equal readiness under each arrangement.

In more difficult systems each play is given a separate number, which number may be called out either first, second, or third, as determined. Again, letting each play be indicated by a particular number, as before, the sum of the last two numbers is taken to make the number desired. This latter system, though, perhaps, a little more difficult, will prove the most satisfactory.

* See diagram nineteen.

If two numbers are to be added together, the captain will do well to make one of them quite small, and call the larger number of the two first, for the addition will be performed by all much quicker and with less effort. During the first of the season it will be well to use one particular number to represent a play, and when these have been thoroughly learned it will be but a comparatively easy matter to change to the sum of any two.

When the number for the play has reached twenty, it may make the signals easier to have all the numbers between twenty and thirty indicate a certain other play; all the numbers between thirty and forty, another; and so on.

As the kick is a frequent play, and as it is nearly always apparent, it may be well to have two numbers, either one of which will be the signal for a kick down the field.

Enough has now been said to suggest how a practical system of signals may be devised.