Coach Tom Bass on the Impact of Weather on Football

Jul 12, 2010
Coach Tom Bass on the Impact of Weather on Football

Cold weather will have an affect on different teams on different levels.

If the team is coming from the South or West or is a team that plays in a dome, cold weather will affect the way they approach the game and play.
Extreme cold weather accompanied with ice, sleet, rain or wind at kickoff will change the game plan dramatically.
When I was coaching with the Bengals, we played a game in Buffalo where neither team could punt when going into the sleet and wind. Our game plan changed dramatically that Sunday.
In really bad weather most teams will go into a "let the other guy make the mistake" mode and will try to feature more of a running game coupled with select short passes.
If your quarterback comes from a city in the North and is at home playing in the cold then the game plan may be cut down but will still feature all phases of the normal attack.
Northern teams may also be negatively affected when forced to play outside on a very hot and humid day late in the season, especially in the second half of a game.


From Greg Alan: Mild rain and snow without wind and visibility problems often times will not hurt passing at the NFL level. We pulled data on this a few years ago to prove the point.
Also, Tim Ferrell showed how passing and rushing stats trend as the season goes on. While a trend existed, it was not that significant overall. In other words, in general, passing in Dec is almost the same as passing in Sept.


Looking at Weather, Travel and Coaches on the Hot Seat
This is the time of year when weather begins to play a big factor in how some teams play and it is something that you should be aware of in making your selections for the week. Games played outside in the cold put tremendous pressure on warm weather teams. Players from these teams have a great deal of trouble performing in adverse weather conditions. It affects every part of the game but more the offense and the kicking game. Be wary of Florida, Arizona, California or dome teams who end up playing in cold, snowy conditions. Coaches have to drive these players out of the warm dressing rooms onto the field and usually they have on so much extra clothing, they cannot move in a normal fashion.
Another thing to check is the distance your players may be traveling to play a game. Changing time zones, especially going west to east can hurt a player's performance. A 1:15 p.m. kickoff on the East Coast is really 10:15 a.m. for West Coast players. Even when a West Coast team changes its practice time to 10 in the morning during the week prior to the game they will usually start slow and be sluggish during at least the first half of the game. Teams traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast will not have as much trouble unless it is a night game. Then they may easily become tired as the game goes along.
Lastly, you may want to consider in your selection of players how teams are reacting to rumors of coaches on their way out. Looking at won/loss records can quickly identify coaches that may be in this position. It is sad to say but many players on losing teams will soon start packing their bags and really are not concerned with saving the coach's job. Your star may be giving his best effort but it will not matter if the other players are getting ready to go home and play golf. No matter how hard he plays, the surrounding players will not give him the support he needs. Once players see they are out of the playoff picture their biggest concern is not to win the game but becomes playing the game and the remainder of the season without injury so they can return next year with a new coach and a job.
Look out for the teams that are pointing fingers -- have open dissension between the offense and defense and are giving up as soon as adversity hits. Try not to get roped into the idea that these players are going to start playing hard to save the coach's job. Believe me, it is not going to happen.

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