Flag Football - Officials Manual

Part I. General Principles and Duties
Content 1
  Section 1. Rules Knowledge
ALL

Knowledge of the rules must be perfect and supplemented by the ability to interpret them correctly. These abilities are acquired only through devotion of much time and study. All rules should be enforced fairly and consistently.

  Section 2. Physical Condition
ALL

Football officiating is difficult and requires 100 percent concentration

  Section 3. Judgment
ALL

Decisions must be instantaneous and a ruling announced with minimal delay. Ensure improved instinctive reactions to play situations by reviewing all possible combinations of circumstances before each game. LET YOUR MIND DIGEST WHAT YOUR EYES HAVE SEEN.

Do not look for fouls. Always be sure of a foul. Never guess, as there are no phantom fouls. Pick up your flag if you realize the foul was not there. If you think it is a foul, it is not! You must know it was a foul.

  Section 4. Duties and Responsibilities
ALL

Each official must have a thorough knowledge of the duties of his/her position and be fully informed concerning the duties of the other officials. Be prepared to assume other positions whenever circumstances require it. He/she must:

  1. Know the down and distance prior to each snap.
  2. Be ready to assist any official who is temporarily out of position.
  3. Observe incorrect rulings by other officials and attempt prevention and correction whenever possible.
  4. Know the prescribed signals and when and how they should be used. E. Be alert to happenings away from the ball when the play has left your immediate area.
  Section 5. Signals
ALL

All signals should be given promptly and distinctly. The preliminary signal and the regular signal after enforcement or declination of a penalty shall be given by the R while standing still. Remember, the only part of officiating to over emphasize is your signaling. Study the Code of Official Football Signals in the back of this manual.

  Section 6. Hustle
ALL

Keep the game moving smoothly from start to finish. Hustle but do not hurry! Do not move too fast. It is better to let the play come to you.

  Section 7. Communication
ALL

Teamwork is important among officials. Continuous communication between all officials during the game is essential for effective game administration.

  Section 8. Do Not Discuss
ALL

Do not discuss with a team the play or players of his/her opponents in a game which you will officiate or are officiating. Do not get mad or even with coaches or players who disagree verbally with your calls.

  Section 9. Pre-Game Duties
ALL

Attendance at the pre-game conference at the time and place designated in advance is mandatory. It is recommended that a period of at least 15 minutes prior to game time be allocated for this purpose. If the R is detained, he/she must notify the LJ and request him/her to conduct the meeting.

Coordinate watches, review rule changes, and check officials equipment: whistles, bean bag, game cards, penalty flags, ball spotters, pencils and down indicators. Check the playing field and player equipment thoroughly.

The R will ask the Captains and/or head coaches of each team, “Are your players legally equipped according to the rules?”

R

Discuss the following with captains:

  1. Unusual plays.
  2. Arrange for the down marker operator.
  3. Captains report to 40 yard line for the toss 3 minutes prior to game time.
  4. Sportsmanship.
BJ

Have correct time of day and an extra stopwatch. Time game and intermission.

  Section 10. Coin Toss
R

Wait for the Team Captains at the center of the field. Introduce the Captains to each other. Ask the Visiting Captain to call the toss. The R shall catch the toss.

  1. Indicate the winner of the toss by placing your hand on that Captain’s shoulder.
  2. Turn to the sidelines and signal “choice deferred,” if applicable (S10).
  3. Request the first choice from Captain with the option for the first half.
  4. Obtain the remaining choice from the other captain.

Place the Captains with their backs to the goal they will defend. Signal winner’s choice only, unless winner elects to defend a goal; then give the appropriate signal for the choice of the other Captain.

ALL

Meet and record the winner of the toss and options they have selected. Hustle to your position. See that the sidelines are clear.

  Section 12. Team Time-Out
ALL Any official may recognize the time-out and stop the clock. Know the team jersey color and player’s number or head coach before signaling time-out. Repeat time-out signal three times (S3). Then inform the R.
R Indicate a charged time-out by pointing to the requesting team, both arms extending, giving three chucks and taking several steps in their direction. Notify the Captain and/or Coach when charged time-outs have been taken. When 55 seconds have expired, go to ball, get ready signal from each Captain, and sound whistle declaring the ball ready for play.
ALL

Record time-outs. Verbalize and signal with each other during each time-out as to the number remaining for each team. Verbalize to each Captain the number of time-outs remaining. Do not huddle in a group.

  Section 13. Referee’s Time-Out
ALL Signal time-out and perform your usual duties. When either team is awarded a first down during the final two minutes of each half, the covering official indicates a time-out. Repeat the time-out signal three times. If the game is disrupted for any reason, record down, distance, position of ball, score and time remaining in the game.
R Signal time-out and tap chest with your hands. Declare the ball ready for play as soon as the need for the time-out has been met.
ALL

Know the status of the clock – whether to start on the snap or the ready. Communicate this information to the R. Snap your fingers to signal “do not start the clock” or “the clock will start on the snap.” Use a winding motion of your index finger to signal “start the clock” when marking the ball ready for play.

  Section 14. Injury Time-Out
ALL

Do not stop the clock immediately if in doubt about the nature of an injury. Ask the player is he/she can continue; wait for a response, then assess the situation. Be deliberate rather than in a hurry.

Use the same procedure during a charged time-out. Permit as much time as is necessary. The safety of the injured player is important. R signals time-out and taps his/her chest to signal Official’s time-out (S3).

  Section 15. First Downs
ALL

If you are certain the play results in a first down, stop the clock during the last 1 minute of the first half and last 2 minutes of the second half. Assist the R as to whether to start the clock after awarding Team A a first down

When the ball becomes dead near the zone line-to-gain, sell the call by saying “short, short” or “first down.” Communicate after each play about the down and distance, especially when the cone line-to-gain is more than 20 yards. Use the “thumb’s up” signal with both hands to indicate two zone lines-to-gain must be gained for a first down. Remind both teams after each play of the necessary yardage needed for a first down.

When the play results in a first down, the covering official will raise one arm straight up indicating first down, and point with the other arm at a 90° angle in the direction the offensive team is advancing.

  Section 16. Last Minute of the First Half and Last 2 Minutes of the Second Half
ALL

Officials should vocally communicate the status of the clock including the time remaining “clock running or stopped,” and “wind on the snap or ready” throughout the last 1 or 2 minutes of each half. Signals are important, but vocalization also keeps the players informed.

Use the time-out signal on out-of-bounds plays, penalties, time-outs, and first downs. Do not use the time-out signal for incomplete passes and scores. After third down play utilize the following signal to indicate stop the clock after fourth down: “Cross your arms against your chest” (S21). Communicate to the other officials.

R Give the 1 or 2 minute warning to both Captains. Other officials should communicate to the sidelines.
BJ Announce loudly the remaining time in the half and whether the clock is running or stopped after each play.
ALL

When the ball becomes dead inbounds near the sideline, give the start clock signal (S2) using only two turns of your arm. This signal is a sideline mechanic only and must be used when the runner has been deflagged/tagged inbounds near the sideline.

When the runner advances beyond the zone line-to-gain for a first down and is tagged/deflagged inbounds near the sideline, give the start clock signal (S2), using two turns of your arm, then stop the clock for the first down. Remind the R whether the ball became dead inbounds by winding your index finger, or out-of-bounds by snapping your fingers.

R

When time expires in each period, give the signal to indicate that the period is over (S14).

  Section 17. Hurry Up Offense
R The Referee will increase the tempo when the offensive team is in a “hurry-up.” Hustle, but do not hurry. If the offensive team is ready to snap, do not mark the ball ready for play until you have hustled behind the deepest offensive back. Backpedal and jog quickly, keeping your eyes on the players and the ball. Check with the other officials to make sure they are ready as you move back. Emphatically inform the center and QB that if he/she snaps the ball prior to the whistle, they will be penalized for delay of game. Mark the ball ready for play, then announce down and zone line-to-gain, if time allows. Do not delay Team A snapping the ball in order to announce down and distance. Simply signal the down with your hand. Sound your whistle softly, to avoid a false start. Maintain your poise.
  Section 18. Game Pacing and Tempo
R

A. To encourage an appropriately-paced contest, the R shall mark the ball ready-for-play as soon as all Team A players have returned to their scrimmage line and all officials are in proper position.

B. The R shall mark the ball ready for play then answer any questions.

C. Unless the offense is in a hurry-up, it is not necessary for the R to be behind the deepest offensive back when marking the ball ready, provided he/she can obtain this position well before the snap.

  Section 19. Enforcement of Fouls
ALL Throw the flag: Spot fouls – throw your flag assertively on the corresponding yard line. Fouls that have no spot – throw your flag high into the air to give the R and the Down Marker Operator a chance to see it.
ALL Signal time-out when the ball is declared dead during the last 2 minutes of each half. When the ball is declared dead and a foul has occurred, the calling official should give several short, rapid blasts of the whistle to alert players and officials that a foul has occurred, if the R does not see you immediately or you are at a distance from the dead ball spot.
ALL Signal the R the type of foul using the Code of Official Football Signals as you jog to the R to report the foul.
ALL

The official calling the foul reports to the R using the four W’s:

A. What: Type of foul. Dead ball or live ball. Describe the foul.

B. Who: Offense or defense – except in a punting situation. Then report kicking team or receiving team. Give the number and position of the player who fouled.

C. When: Status of the ball – loose, in possession or after a change of team possession.

D. Where: The spot where the run ends or the spot of the foul.

ALL Do not place a hand or point to the offending player. The official calling the foul should stand by and double check the R’s options. If you disagree, ask the R to repeat the options. Assist each other in holding the dead ball spot and the spot of the foul. Cover the foul markers whenever possible for each other.
ALL Make sure the down marker is not moved. The R steps off the correct yardage and places the ball spotters on the ground. The FJ stands where the penalty will be enforced. The LJ stands at the succeeding spot. Both the LJ and FJ should “walk off” the penalty yardage independently of the R. Upon reaching the succeeding spot, turn and look at the spot that the R has walked off. If different, communicate to the R. The BJ needs to communicate “half the distance, automatic first down, loss of down,” and so on to the R. Correct any mistakes immediately.
ALL Communicate to the R on penalties enforced half-distance to the goal line.
ALL Dead ball fouls – immediately think about the down number and yardage for a first down.
R The R notifies the Coach and escorts the player to the sideline on all disqualifying fouls.
ALL The nearest official will notify the Coach of fouls by his/her team. Report the position and number whenever possible.
R When fouls are reported, give the preliminary signal before explaining the options to the captain. If the choice is obvious, announce it and proceed with enforcement or declination. Otherwise explain the options to the Captain. State options briefly, correctly, clearly and courteously. Repeat the options if the Captain is unsure.
R

After the penalty is completed, take a position clear of the players where you can be seen. Give the signal to the BJ’s side in 2 person and the LJ’s side in 3/4 person.

A. If a penalty is accepted, signal the foul and extend one arm in a pointing fashion, horizontally in the direction of the offending team.

B. If a penalty is declined, signal the foul, extend one arm in a pointing fashion, horizontally in the direction of the offending team and then give the penalty declined signal (S10).

C. If the penalties offset, signal one foul, extend one arm in a pointing fashion, horizontally in the direction of the offending team. Repeat this procedure for a foul by the other team, then give the penalty declined signal (S10).

D. Start the clock after a penalty is completed, if it was not otherwise stopped by Rule.

  Section 20. Whistle Mechanics
ALL

It is mandatory to keep the plastic whistle in your hand until the ball becomes dead by Rule. Let the play kill itself. Do not be in a hurry to sound your whistle.

  Section 21. Forward Progress
ALL The official marking forward progress should maintain a position which keeps all players within his/her view.
ALL Use your downfield foot to signal forward progress to the R.
R

If forward progress is located between the inbounds lines (hash marks), hustle to the approximate dead ball spot with the ball spotters. If the dead ball spot is located between the sideline and inbounds lines (hash marks), hustle to the nearest inbounds line. Align the orange spotter on the downfield foot of the covering official. After placing the orange ball spotter on the ground, take one step forward and place the gold ball spotter on the ground. If the play loses yardage, the LJ will obtain forward progress from the R. The R will then get the ball spotters and align them on forward progress.

  Section 22. Helpful Hints
ALL

A. Record all time-outs called including the head coach or player’s number and the team. Be responsible for the legality of substitutes.

B. Be courteous, but firm and fair, when dealing with players and nonplayers.

C. The number of fingers indicate the down, while a closed fist indicates fourth down.

D. Leave the field together.

  Section 23. Officiating Uniform
ALL Look sharp and feel sharp! Officials who wear great looking uniforms send a positive message to players and coaches. Take pride in yourself and your profession.
ALL

The official uniform is:

A. Black and white vertically striped, long or short-sleeved knit shirt with 1” vertical stripes, black knit cuff and Byron collar.

B. Black sweatpants with black socks or black shorts with white socks, and solid black football shoes with black laces. Shoes need to be shined before each game.

C. A black baseball cap with white piping. (EXCEPTION: Sponsorships).

D. Additional essential equipment includes a plastic whistle, penalty marker, white bean bag, game card, pencil and down indicator. The penalty marker shall be a light gold flag (15” x 15”) with a middle pouch weighted with soft material—sand, beans, etc. NOTE: Penalty flags worn by each official should be virtually hidden from view.

E. If all officials have the necessary equipment, the NFHS Football Officiating Uniform can be worn.

  Section 24. Incomplete Pass Mechanics
ALL

Only the covering official(s) signal incomplete pass. Stand erect and repeat the signal three times at shoulder height level. When inside two minutes, do not give the time-out signal after signaling incomplete pass.

  Section 25. Between Periods
ALL Note and record down, distance and yard line nearest foremost point of ball.
R Measure distance from the nearest yard line to foremost point of ball and estimate distance from nearest inbounds line (hash mark).
  Section 26. Between Halves
BJ When the clock expires, start your watch immediately and time the halftime.
ALL Meet the Captains at midfield near the end of the halftime, obtain and signal their choices.
Part III. 3 Person Crew Mechanics
Content 2
  Section 1. Passing and Running Plays – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions.
R A. Take a position on the side opposite the LJ and on the same side as the BJ. Take a position 6 to 7 yards behind and 7 to 8 yards outside the deepest offensive back. Take a final position to see the snap, backs, and line players, except the wide-out receivers.
LJ B. Take a position on the side opposite the R in the neutral zone and standing on the sideline. If a receiver lines up near the sideline, take one or two steps backward and out-of-bounds. Take a final position to see the snap and all players on or near the scrimmage lines.
BJ C. Take a position on the side opposite the LJ. Your initial position will be 15 to 17 yards beyond the scrimmage line 3 to 5 yards from the sideline. Be behind the deepest defensive back. Avoid a position which will interfere with the defensive back. If a receiver is positioned near the sideline, move closer toward the sideline.
ALL D. Basic positions may vary depending on play situations, team formations, field and weather conditions. Always “box in” the play. Avoid positions which may cause scrambling. Avoid interfering with the players. STAY WIDE! Remember, it is always easier to move in than backward.
  Article 2. Responsibilities Before the Ball is Snapped.
R A. Set the ball spotters on or inside the inbounds lines (hash marks); check with the other officials for the correct down; check the down marker; announce the down and distance; sound your whistle sharply and mark the ball ready for play; start your stopwatch for the 25 second count; move the down indicator on your hand to the next finger; and hustle to your initial position. A note of caution: when a team is using a hurry-up offense, maintain a consistent tempo throughout the game. Inform the QB and center not to snap the ball until the whistle is sounded. Back pedal to your position quickly and make sure the other officials are ready. Maintain your poise and control of the game. Hustle, but do not hurry.
R B. Preventive Officiating Recommendations: 1. Inform the QB when approximately 15 seconds have elapsed on the 25 second count. If a team is close to the 25 second count, communicate by saying the number of seconds that remain; 2. If a Team A player, usually the QB, is positioned within 2 yards of the center snap, inform him/her to move back; 3. Remind the QB that all players must be set for 1 second; 4. Check legality of the players’ equipment; 5. If a team is shifting, inform them to “get set.”
R C. Basic duties include watching for delay of game, legality of the defensive signals, illegal shift-motion-procedure-snap, false start and counting the 7 (Corec-8) Team A players (Flag-count flag belts) (S12).
LJ D. Thrust your downfield foot ahead to mark forward progress; raise your arm straight above your head to indicate the next down (close fist for fourth down); communicate verbally to the down marker operator and the other officials about the next down number; move your down indicator on your hand to the next finger; back pedal to the sideline; other than during a hurry-up offense, be in your initial position before Team A breaks the huddle; and keep people on the sideline back at least 6 feet.
LJ E. Preventive Officiating Recommendations: 1. Thrust your backfield foot forward to help the line players position themselves; 2. Communicate verbally to the Team A and B players along the neutral zone to check with you and raise one arm high above your head. Move them forward or backward dependent upon their position. Inform Team A if they do not have enough players on the scrimmage line. Drop your arm (S1) and state “line set” when Team A has lined up correctly. Take charge and be in control of the scrimmage lines. Remember, it is difficult for the players to be in correct position on a field with limited line markings; 3. Do not be too technical regarding formation positions. Use good common sense for the players’ benefit.
LJ F. Basic responsibilities include counting the 7 (Corec-8) Team A players (Flag-count flag belts) (S12), counting the minimum 4 (Corec-5) Team A players on their scrimmage line, encroachment, false start, and illegal shift-motion-formation-snap. Take responsibility for any player in motion.
BJ G. Thrust your downfield foot ahead to mark forward progress; raise your arm straight above your head and indicate the next down (close fist for fourth down); communicate verbally down and distance to other officials; move the down indicator on your hand to the next finger; Corec game—Communicate verbally and signal to the R and the LJ whether the next play is “open” (S40) or “closed” (S41); back pedal to your initial position before Team A breaks the huddle; check offensive formation to determine how close Team A players are positioned near the sideline. Be wider than the widest offensive player. Check your stopwatch and inform players, coaches and officials of the remaining time.
BJ H. Preventive Officiating Recommendations: 1. Remind defensive players that contact is illegal—do not “chuck” the receivers; 2. Count the number of Team B players (Flag-count flag belts) – (S12) communicate if they have too many or not enough.
  Article 3. Responsibilities After the Ball is Snapped.
R A. The R’s mental checklist is: Snap, Ball, QB, Rush and Pass. Watch for the snap striking the ground either before or after touching a player. If so, sound your whistle sharply. Observe defensive players as they rush the QB and move toward the screen blockers. Communicate with the players by verbalizing “watch the contact, watch the contact.” Adjust your position to see through the play and rule on illegal contact. Follow the runner toward your sideline behind the scrimmage line maintaining an “inside looking out” angle. Be careful of the agile runner who can change directions quickly. Stay wide and do not follow the runner too tightly. Always be aware of the throw-back. Mark forward progress if the runner is deflagged/tagged behind the scrimmage line. Observe fouls around the runner after he/she crosses the neutral zone. You are responsible for the pitch person.
R B. If the QB backpedals more than 2 to 3 yards, take a step backward for every step he/she does. Protect the QB. Do not be a “head wagger!” When the pass is thrown keep your eyes on the passer until there is no threat of a foul. Remember, the QB is your primary responsibility.
R C. Take a position to rule whether a pass thrown behind the neutral zone is forward of backward. If the pass is backward, extend your arm with a closed fist at a 90° angle toward the passing team’s end line (S17), yell “back” and “sell” the call, if close. If intended to be thrown backward, but the pass goes forward, extend your arm with an open hand forward (S45) and yell “forward.” Remember, if in doubt, the pass is backward. Once the pass is released, yell “ball’s away.” This will help the defense avoid roughing the passer.
R D. When the passer moves toward the Team A scrimmage line (first ball spotter-orange) follow and stay wide. If a forward pass is thrown near the first ball spotter-orange, hustle to the spot where the ball was released. Check the spot of the pass with the first ball spotter-orange. Remember, if in doubt, the pass is legal.
R E. You are solely responsible for calling intentional grounding. If necessary, seek information from the other officials whether any Team A players were in the area where the pass was thrown.
LJ F. The LJ’s mental checklist is: Snap, Players, Zone and Ball. Read your “keys” after the snap. Do the receivers move downfield and run pass patterns? Do the line players start screen blocking and the backs begin running? A majority of the plays are passes. Many runs develop off the pass. If you read run, hold at the neutral zone and observe screen blockers and defenders ahead of and around the runner. If you read pass, slide downfield 3 to 5 yard initially. Keep your shoulders parallel to the sideline. Shuffle your feet similar to a defensive basketball player, keeping in mind not to cross your feet. This will allow you to move in either direction quickly. Observe the initial charge of the line players for a foul by either team. Then watch for any illegal contact by the receivers and defensive backs primarily on your side of the field. Switch your sight briefly from the players downfield back to the QB. Read the QB’s eyes. Anticipate the play, but do not anticipate the call. Once the ball is thrown move quickly to the most advantageous position to see between the receiver and defender. Adjust your position for the best angle. This will place you in proper position to rule on a foul by either player. Stay wide. Be in a position to cover any pass near the sideline.
LJ G. If the runner moves away from you, continue to officiate. Observe action in the offensive backfield, along the neutral zone and screen blocks around the runner. Move down the scrimmage line, then drift downfield keeping players in front of you. Try to get the big picture.
LJ H. An exciting part of this game is the many backward passes thrown, especially beyond the neutral zone. Work hard for a position which parallels the runner, especially from the neutral zone to 18 to 20 yards downfield. By staying wide and parallel to the runner, your position will be excellent to rule on the legality of the pass. When a pass is backward, immediately extend your arm with a closed fist at a 90° angle toward the passing team’s end line (S17) and yell “back.” If thrown forward beyond Team A’s scrimmage line (first ball spotter-orange) or after a change of possession, throw your flag to the corresponding yard line where the pass was released.
LJ I. A large percentage of plays are designed for short or intermediate yardage. You are responsible for forward progress to approximately 18 to 20 yards beyond the neutral zone. This is why being parallel to the runner is so important. Be prepared to take the runner to the goal line. Constantly be aware of the zone line-to-gain and the goal line. Sell the close call by hustling to the dead ball spot. Hustle and stay parallel to the sideline until you reach the yard line where the ball became dead. Then “square off” and move toward the ball. Keep players in front of you and in your view. Thrust your downfield foot forward to mark the foremost point of the ball.
LJ J. Corecreation Games Only—Stay on the scrimmage line after the snap. Be ready to rule when the ball crosses the Team A scrimmage line. If the runner moves near the line or the pass is caught near the line, verbalize “beyond” and extend your downfield arm at a 90° angle toward the defensive team’s end line once the ball is beyond the Team A scrimmage line. On a closed play, if the play involves a female passer or female receiver of a legal forward pass, and the runner is downed near the Team A scrimmage line, “sell” the call of “behind” if short of the line or “positive” is positive yardage is gained to “open” the next down.
LJ-BJ K. The pass thrown toward the sideline is a challenging call for the LJ and BJ. Read the “keys” at the snap. Be aware of the receiver who moves toward your sideline. Once the passer releases the ball begin adjusting your position to the receiver. Most calls are missed because the official is either too close to the receiver or not straddling the sideline. Adjust your position so you are at least 3 to 5 yards away from the receiver, standing still. Watch the feet first and then the ball. Pause an instant. “Let your mind digest what your eyes have seen.” Remember, you have responsibility for the Team A player who goes out-of-bounds and returns to participate. Throw your hat and say the player’s number. Take responsibility for your respective sideline—end line to end line. Be ready to move quickly downfield on a long pass.
LJ-BJ L. Watch for out-of-bounds plays on your sideline. When the runner steps out-of-bounds, move to the spot and hold it. Do not drop your bean bag on the spot unless the play gets rough out-of-bounds. Keep your eyes on the players out-of-bounds until action has stopped and they have returned inbounds. Be deliberate and take your time for 3 to 4 seconds. If there is a late hit, it must be penalized.
BJ M. The BJ’s mental checklist is: Snap, Players, Zone and Ball. When the ball is snapped your first couple of steps are always backward. Read your “keys” for pass versus run. If a run develops, watch the screen blockers ahead of and around the runner. If the runner or receiver moves toward the sideline, hustle to that sideline for an “outside looking in” angle. This is the “boxing-in” principle. Do not get caught inside. If the runner moves toward the LJ’s side, do not overcommit too fast. Throwbacks and cutbacks are very common. Let the flow of the play dictate your movement.
BJ N. As the ball is snapped observe any illegal contact by players in and directly beyond the neutral zone especially on your half of the field. Continue to move backward as the receivers establish their patterns. Let the play come to you. Do not allow any receivers behind you. The end line is your responsibility. Take a quick look at the passer’s eyes. In most cases he/she will show you where the pass is going. Your objective is moving to a position to see between the receiver and defender as the ball arrives.
ALL O. Rule on forward pass thrown in or near your area. This is especially true on button hooks, traps and muffs. If in doubt on a pass being complete or incomplete, concede the call to the official facing the receiver. Do not give the catch signal. If you think it is a catch, move toward the forward progress spot when the ball becomes dead and look for help.
ALL P. After the ball is dead be in a position to cover late blocks, roughness, and other fouls. When dead in your area, hustle in and thrust your downfield foot forward to mark progress. Remind Team A players to take the ball back to their huddle.
ALL

Q. If the ball goes out-of-bounds, signal time-out immediately during the last two minutes of either half. The other officials will clean up around you until there is no threat of a foul. Repeat the time-out signal 3 times. Look professional by giving good sharp signals.

  Section 2. Goal Line and Try Plays – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions.
R-LJ A. Positions are the same as run/pass plays.
BJ B. Whenever the ball is snapped on or inside the 10 yard line, stand on the end line, 3 to 5 yards from the sideline. The end line is your responsibility. Watch the wide receivers as they break the huddle. If they are positioned near the sideline, move closer to it.
  Article 2. Responsibilities—Goal to Go
R A. Signal touchdown only after all requirements have been met and you have checked for any penalty flags. Help rule on forward progress only if the LJ’s vision is blocked.
LJ B. After the snap hustle to the goal line and rule on either a touchdown or forward progress short of the goal line. This is important. Always know where the goal line is on short yardage situations. Stay wide. Your objective is to be straddling the goal line when the ball breaks the plane in possession. If the runner or receiver is near your sideline, move out-of-bounds 1 to 2 yards for an “outside-in” look. If the runner or passer moves toward the opposite sideline, hustle down the goal line for a better look. However, keep all players in front of you, and be ready for any reverse or broken field runs.
BJ C. Stay on the end line and let the play develop. Do not overcommit and risk getting trapped. Let the play come to you.
LJ-BJ D. Indicate the score by giving a sharp touchdown signal only when in a position to see possession by the offense in the opponent’s end zone. Be deliberate. You must see the football! Do not mirror another official’s touchdown signal. If you see touchdown, then signal it. After signaling, the closest official must remove the player’s flag belt to insure the belt was secured legally.
R E. After the touchdown speak to the scoring team’s Captain. Explain the Try options to the Captain only. Secure his/her choice and announce it to all players and officials. Set the orange ball spotter on the 3, 10 or 20 yard line.
  Article 3. Responsibilities—Reverse Goal Line Mechanics
R-LJ

A. When the offensive team is near their own goal line, between the 8 and 15 yard line, the R will straddle the goal line and be wide. As the QB rolls to either sideline, stay on the goal line to rule one a possible safety. When the ball is snapped on or inside the Team A 8 yard line, the LJ will move toward the goal line at the snap, while the R will be on the end line prior to the snap. Once the goal line is no longer threatened, the R and LJ will move upfield similar to other players.

  Section 3. Punts – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions.
R-LJ A. Positions are the same as run/pass plays.
BJ B. Take a position on the same side as the R. Be parallel to the deepest receivers and at least 8 to 10 yards wide.
  Article 2. Responsibilities Before the Ball is Snapped.
R A. Prior to all fourth down plays, ask the Team A Captain if he/she wants to punt. Communicate this decision to all Team A and B players. If there is a charged team time-out, end of period or penalty, again ask the Team A Captain if he/she wants to punt. Then inform the Team B Captain of this decision. If Team A wants to punt announce it to all players and officials (S43). Inform both teams to stay out of the neutral zone until the ball is punted. Check for correct positioning of the other officials. Do not allow the ball to be snapped until everyone has met the punt requirements. Penalize any encroachment, illegal snap or false start as a dead ball foul.
  Article 3. Responsibilities After the Ball is Snapped.
R A. Watch for the snap hitting the ground and the kicker punting the ball. If the punt goes out-of-bounds in flight, line up the deep official by chopping your arm as he/she reaches the out-of-bounds spot. After the punt move downfield, watching for any illegal contact, especially in the center of the field. Know where the runner is by using your peripheral vision but focus on the screen blocking ahead of the runner which is your primary responsibility.
LJ B. Rule on any scrimmage line fouls. Hold your initial position after the punt. Be ready to rule on whether the punt crosses the Team A scrimmage line. Observe the players for any illegal contact, concentrating primarily on your half of the field. Know where the ball is using your peripheral vision. If the punt is kicked short take responsibility for the receiver. You are responsible for your sideline on a punt return.
BJ C. Once the punt is caught move with the flow watching for illegal contact. You are responsible for the Team B goal line and end line. Know whether the punt breaks the plane.
LJ-BJ D. If punted out-of-bounds on the ground, mark the spot. If punted out-of-bounds in the air, jog to the “approximate” area, then begin walking slowly until the R chops his/her are (S1) to mark the spot. By walking slowly, you are indicating to the R this is where “I think the punt went out-of-bounds.” NOTE: If in doubt, the out-of-bounds punt is “short” of the zone line to gain. NOTE: If in doubt, the out-of-bounds punt near the goal line is a touchback.
ALL E. Be alert for kick catch interference, fumbles, muffs and backward passes. If the runner moves into your area, move toward a position to rule on the direction of a pass, by staying parallel with the runner.
Part IV. 4 Person Crew Mechanics
  Section 1. Passing and Running Plays – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions.
R A. Take a position on the side opposite the LJ and BJ and on the same side as the FJ. Line up 6 to 7 yards behind and 7 to 8 yards outside the deepest offensive back. Take a final position to see the snap, backs, and line players, except the wide-out receivers.
LJ B. Take a position on the side opposite the R and FJ in the neutral zone and standing on the sideline. If a receiver lines up near the sideline, take a step or two backwards and out-of-bounds. Take a final position to see the snap and all players on and near the scrimmage lines.
FJ C. Take a position on the side opposite the LJ and BJ and the same side as the R. Start on the sideline and 10 to 12 yards downfield beyond Team B’s scrimmage line. Line up at a 45 degree angle to the sideline for a better look. The initial position will vary dependent upon down, distance, and team tendencies. Always be aware of the zone line-to-gain. It is the FJ’s primary responsibility. The objective is to be straddling the zone line-to-gain whenever the runner or receiver crosses it. This exciting game is primarily pass oriented. Being downfield 10 to 12 yards is an ideal position to observe receivers and defenders.
BJ D. Take a position on the side opposite the R and FJ and the same side as the LJ. The initial position will be 15 to 17 yards beyond the scrimmage line, 12 to 14 yards from the sideline, and behind the deepest defensive back. Avoid a position which will interfere with the defensive backs.
ALL E. Basic position may vary depending upon play situations, team formations, field and weather conditions. Always “box in” the play. Avoid positions which may cause scrambling to avoid interference with the players.
  Article 2. Responsibilities Before the Ball is Snapped.
ALL A. Set the ball spotters; check with the other officials for the correct down; check the down marker; announce the down and distance; sound your whistle sharply and mark the ball ready for play; start your stopwatch for the 25 second count; move the down indicator on your hand to the next finger; and hustle to your initial position. A note of caution: when a team is using a hurry-up offense, maintain a consistent tempo throughout the game. Inform the QB and center not to snap the ball until the whistle is sounded. Back pedal to your position and make sure the other officials are ready. Maintain your poise and control of the game. Hustle, but do not hurry.
R-LJ-BJ B. Responsibilities are the same as 3 Person.
FJ C. Thrust downfield foot ahead on forward progress; communicate verbally about down and distance to the other officials; move your down indicator on your hand to the next finger; back pedal to the sideline; and keep people on the sideline back at least 6 feet. Basic responsibilities include counting the number of Team B players (Flag-count flag belts) (S12) and knowing your assigned receivers and defenders.
FJ D. Adjust initial position based upon the down and distance. If the distance is more than 10 yards, move deeper; if less than 10 yards then “stay home.” If the down is third or fourth, move to the zone line-to-gain after the snap. Do not take a position in the neutral zone.
  Article 3. Responsibilities After the Ball is Snapped.
R A. Basic responsibilities are the same as 3 Person. Be more deliberate watching the passer after the release. Do not be a “head wager.”
LJ B. Hold your initial position in the neutral zone after the snap. Observe screen blockers and defenders in the neutral zone and behind. Then move downfield approximately 3 yards (EXCEPTION: Corec game—Hold initial position in the neutral zone until the ball is beyond the Team A scrimmage line). Be ready to rule on any passes thrown short. The R is responsible for whether the passer is beyond the scrimmage line when releasing the ball. Coordinate coverage with the BJ. Remember, the near sideline is your primary responsibility, end line to end line.
FJ C. The near sideline is your primary responsibility from end line to end line. Stay wide. Maintain an “outside looking in” position at all times. Read your “keys” after the snap. If you read run, hold your position and observe the screen blockers and defenders ahead of and around the runner. Take responsibility for the runner beyond the neutral zone on your side of the field. If you read pass, watch the closest receivers and defenders for illegal contact. As the pass routes develop switch from person to person to zone coverage. Switch your sight from the players downfield back to the QB. Read the QB’s eyes. Once the ball is thrown move quickly to the most advantageous position to see between the receiver and defender. Adjust your position for the angle.
FJ D. The pass thrown toward the sideline is a challenging call for the FJ. Read the “keys” at the snap. Be aware of the receiver who moves toward your sideline. Once the passer releases the ball begin adjusting your position to the receiver. Most calls are missed because the official is either too close to the receiver or not straddling the sideline. Adjust your position so you are at least 3 to 5 yards away from the receiver, standing still. Watch the feet first and then the ball. Pause an instant. “Let your mind digest what your eyes have seen.” Remember, you have responsibility Remember, you have responsibility for the Team A player who goes out-of-bounds and returns to participate. Throw your hat and say the player’s number. Take responsibility for your respective sideline-end line to end line. Be ready to move quickly downfield on a long pass.
FJ E. Unless down and distance are critical (3rd or 4th down), do not be overly concerned with the zone line-to-gain. There is no need to “camp out” on the zone line-to-gain. Your first few steps are usually backwards, giving ground to keep the players in front of you. Your objectives is to “lead” the runner to the zone line-to-gain or the goal line. By backpedaling ahead of the runner you will have an excellent view of the sideline and any flag guarding foul on the inside arm near the sideline.
FJ F. If the runner or passer goes to the opposite side move toward the center of the field. Observe any fouls behind the BJ and between you and the play.
BJ

G. Divide the receiver and defender coverage with the FJ as players move downfield. Coordinate sideline coverage with the LJ as you have secondary responsibility. The basic look is “inside-outside.” Move from sideline to sideline cleaning up similar to a “windshield wiper” helping the FJ and LJ as needed.

  Section 2. Goal Line and Try Plays – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions.
R-LJ A. Your positions are the same as on other run/pass plays.
FJ B. Whenever the ball is snapped on or inside the 15 yard line, straddle the goal line and stand outside the pylon.
BJ C. Whenever the ball is snapped on or inside the 10 yard line, stand on the end line. The end line is your responsibility.
  Article 2. Responsibilities—Goal to Go
R-BJ A. Responsibilities are the same as 3 Person.
LJ B. Hustle to the goal line if the ball is snapped on or inside the 5 yard line.
LJ-FJ C. In situations where both the LJ and FJ are straddling the goal line when the runner “arrives” it is imperative that they make eye contact before signaling touchdown or “short” by marking forward progress. This non-verbal communication is essential for quality teamwork and avoiding contradicting calls by the 2 officials.
FJ D. If the runner or receiver is near the sideline move out-of-bounds 1 to 2 yards for an “outside in” look. If the runner or passer moves toward the opposing sideline, move down the goal line. However, keep all players in front of you, and be ready for any reverses or broken field runs.
LJ-FJ E. The catch or no catch in the back corners of the end zone is a tough call which requires coordination between the covering officials. The BJ must look to the sideline official, either the LJ or FJ for help. Secure eye contact prior to signaling touchdown. “Sell” the incomplete signal if the receiver touches the end line or sideline prior to catching the ball.
  Article 3. Responsibilities—Reverse Goal Line Mechanics
R-LJ A. Responsibilities are the same as 3 Person.
  Section 3. Punts – Positions and Responsibilities
  Article 1. Positions
R-LJ A. Positions are the same as on passing and running plays.
FJ B. Move downfield 30 to 35 yards near the sideline on the side opposite the LJ and BJ.
BJ C. Take a position on the same side as the LJ. Be parallel to the deepest receivers and at least 8 to 10 yards wide. Do not get caught inside.
  Article 2. Responsibilities Before the Ball is Snapped.
ALL A. Responsibilities are the same as 3 Person.
  Article 3. Responsibilities After the Ball is Snapped.
R A. Responsibilities are the same as 3 Person.. If the punt goes out-of-bounds in flight, line up the LJ/FJ by chopping your arm (S1) as he/she reaches the out-of-bounds spot.
LJ B. Move downfield with the players and observe any illegal contact after the punt has crossed the Team A scrimmage line, concentrating primarily on your half of the field.
FJ C. Communicate verbally with the BJ once the punt is in flight. The BJ has responsibility for two-thirds of the field. Unless the punt is near your sideline concentrate primarily on the screen blocking.
LJ-FJ D. If punted out-of-bounds on the ground, mark the spot. If punted out-of-bounds in the air, jog to the “approximate” area, then begin walking slowly until the R chops his/her are (S1) to mark the spot. By walking slowly, you are indicating to the R this is where “I think the punt went out-of-bounds.”
BJ E. In most cases the ball and the receivers are your responsibility. Observe the catch, and then stay parallel with the runner. If the ball is punted toward the opposite sideline communicate verbally to the FJ by yelling “Ball, ball.” This means the FJ takes the ball and action around it while you move forward and observe play in front of the catch.

 

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