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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 07:43am
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Lineman/judge pre-snap hand signals.

NFHS

I have a quick question regarding the pre-snap hand signals that are given between the two linesman. Where and in what book does it describe these hand signals like punching the ends on and off the line and counting the guys on your side of the line. I missed this during one of the first two classes and I never really did get a grip on the whole thing. Who counts the center? What does the punching signal tell the other linesman?
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 08:30am
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Different areas use different signals, so check with your local Board to see what signal you are supposed to use for 2,3,4,etc.

The "punch back" is signalling that the widest player on your side is not on the line of scrimmage.

No one technically counts the center. You are counting the number of players on your side of him. So if you have 3, and your partner has 3, you've got 7, because the center is added to your total count.

Every play has to have a center, no matter the formation, so just count the number on your side, add it to the number on the other side, add the center to the total, and make sure you have at least 7.

Another mechanic is to count the number of offensive players, making sure it is no more than 11, than counting the number of players in the backfield. By subtracting, you find the number of players on the LOS.


Again, check with your local Board, or crew members, to make sure you are using the same mechanics/signals as everyone else.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 08:43am
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http://userweb.port.ac.uk/~briggsj/a.../fbmechs12.htm

To see the approved list of Supplementary signals used in the UK and the rest of Europe, follow this link and scroll down to Ch 25 Supplementary Signals. You will have to click on PDF link as that chapter hasn't yet been converted to html.
We no longer recommend using Sup Signal 13.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 10:05am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra29
Different areas use different signals, so check with your local Board to see what signal you are supposed to use for 2,3,4,etc.

The "punch back" is signalling that the widest player on your side is not on the line of scrimmage.

No one technically counts the center. You are counting the number of players on your side of him. So if you have 3, and your partner has 3, you've got 7, because the center is added to your total count.

Every play has to have a center, no matter the formation, so just count the number on your side, add it to the number on the other side, add the center to the total, and make sure you have at least 7.

Another mechanic is to count the number of offensive players, making sure it is no more than 11, than counting the number of players in the backfield. By subtracting, you find the number of players on the LOS.


Again, check with your local Board, or crew members, to make sure you are using the same mechanics/signals as everyone else.
Thanks Zebra! Does anyone else have any tips for a linesman position. Tonight will be my first game.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 10:25am
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Tips for a new linesman:

1) Make sure you discuss with your referee that he needs to allow you time, especially at the start of the game, to get the chains set on a first down. Agree on a signal that you will give him once you are satisfied that the chains are set and ready to go. He shouldn't signal the 'ready for play' until you give him the signal that you are ready.

2) After every play, as you mark the forward progress or mirror the LJ's spot, give the signal for the next down with your hand against your chest. The referee will look to you and will then signal the next down. Then you can raise your hand and signal the next down to the box man. How you and the box man communicate is up to you but he has to take his signal from you and not the white hat or anyone else. He only moves to the new spot and flips the box after you tell him to.

3) On long plays, don't forget to move the chains as soon as you are sure there are no flags and that it's clear. Nothing will tick off the chain crew than a HL who tells them not to move until his signal and then forgets to move them on a punt until it's almost time to run the next play.

4) On a penalty, find out what the ruling is and make sure of the next down. You should mark off the penalty the same as but independently from the umpire. If you have the same spot, you both did it right. If not, the LJ should be still on the basic spot so you can see where you went wrong.

5) Keep the chain crew safe. Remind them to drop the sticks and run if needed.

6) Relax and have fun.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 10:55am
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Page 24 of the most recent (2006-07) NFHS Officials Manual shows a number of recommended intracrew signals. Among these are:
  • Holding a closed fist at shoulder level to indicate 11 players on the team that you are counting. At HL or LJ, I hold my arm out to the side, since sometimes it's tough to see when held in front of the body. Also, I always use the arm nearer the defense because...
  • Holding the arm on the offensive side straight out to the side to indicate that the player nearest you is OFF the line of scrimmage. A lot of guys call this "punching back", but the book shows an open hand, and that's what I generally use.
  • Crossed arms to indicate "two sticks" - that is, there are more than 10 yards needed for a first down, so the offense must pass BOTH stakes to get a first down.
  • Hand on cheek to indicate an unbalanced line. I have never seen this used at the high school level, but I like the mechanic. Even better is one I saw a D-I crew using (America East conference): Two fingers held straight out to indicate two players to your side of the center. The other wing responds with a hand on cheek to indicate four on his side; if not, you have a flag.
The easiest way to ensure the correct number of players on the line of scrimmage is if your R and U are good about signalling that they have 11 players on offense; if so, then you can just make sure there are no more than four backs.

As for tips:
  1. STAY WIDE. Let the play come to you, if it's going to. As you read that the play is moving away, you can start creeping in, but not too far - if there's a cutback, a reverse, or a really good fake, you don't want to get caught in the middle of the action. Once the play has ended, you can move in to make sure nothing "extra" happens.
  2. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN DURING A DEAD BALL. During roughly 90-95% of the time in a football game, the ball is dead. You still need to officiate. Especially if the last play didn't end near you, keep as much of the field as possible in view. On a play that goes way OOB on your sideline, go with the players to protect them. (Drop a bag on your spot if necessary.)
  3. KEEP YOUR SIDELINE CLEAR. Get in this habit NOW. The job is hard enough when conditions are perfect; lacking that 2-yard belt makes it much worse on plays that end at or near your sideline, since ideally you're standing off the field a bit to have the best angle. Be very polite with the coaches, but be firm on this point.
  4. YOU WILL SCREW UP. It takes years before all of the things like counting players, checking formations, signalling, etc. become second nature, and they're not even the really important things. Accept now that you will make mistakes, so that when it happens during the game, you can make a mental note of it and then put it out of your mind and deal with the next play. You can reflect on the game later; preferably with the other members of your crew.
  5. STAY CALM. As mentioned, you'll screw up. Players will be excited. Fans will be cheering. Coaches will be yelling. And you need to keep your composure and do your job.
There are about a thousand other things to say, but these are five of the biggest points I can think of. (Others will like disagree on point #3, but it really does make things vastly easier for me.)
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 11:27am
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I work LJ, but....

My HL and I touch the bill of our caps for 3 on our side. We hold either 2 or 4 fingers up if we have less or more than 3 on our side. We tried the cheek and top of the hat thing and it didn't work for us. If I can't tell what my partner has, I will count players in the back field. I will count, recount and recount again before throwing a flag.

The BJ, HL and LJ on our crew count defense and the R and U count offense. I try to watch my R and U to see if there count is right, that way I know if I can have a legal formation. If you don't have enough players, your chances go up for an illegal formation.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 12:27pm
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I Like to keep it simple. I only punch if the widest recieve is off the line. I have also found it is easier to simply count the players off the LOS and see what my white hat has for number of offensive players.

I think the onyl other signal we hive is a "two sticks" (greater than 10yards for a 1st down) signal.

I noticed on the ESPN coverage last saturday of a HS game in Summerville, SC that the wing officials put both arms out at a 45 degree angle with the ground prior to the sanp...anyone know what that is about?
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 12:45pm
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Another tip - when the play comes to your sideline, get BEHIND the play! Otherwise you're going to end up IN the play.

Let's say it's a sweep to your side. Move into the backfield a few steps so the runner is ahead of you - then, and only then, should you start moving upfield to cover the play.

If the play ends up out of bounds, mark your spot while facing the pile, not the field. The spot isn't going to move, so keep your eyes on the players.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 01:27pm
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The balanced line/unbalanced line signals have never made sense to me. I've never heard a mechanic or key that changes based on whether or not the line is balanced. The only place I've heard it applied is when determining 7 on the line. To me it is so much easier to verify there are 11 and then count 4 in the back field. "Punching Back" helps both the receiver on your end and the other wing. Nobody has ever been able to explain why counting linemen on your side of the ball is better or easier than counting the number of backs.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 02:36pm
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Guys, I'm absolutely happy that I've found this forum a while ago since my biggest problem with officials down here in Rio is that there's never been a machanic manual to go through. I recently found and started to translate a 2006 Manual from San Diego and loved to find out something I had no clue. But this manual doesn't have anything specific on hand signals. Does anybody have that and could send me? I'd apreciate very much
my e-mail is daniel@gorilas.com.br
thanks alot and keep the info coming coz I'm creating a Machanics Manual for my rules down here
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 03:18pm
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The tip I would give is over-communicate with the head coach who is right behind you. Call him by name (i.e. "Coach Jones") early in the contest. Find out for him what the penalty is when you see a flag on the ground. Always be respectful and when he does "cross the line", ask him if we wants a timeout to speak with the R. That almost always hushes him up.

Also, find out the ball person's name, and use it to keep him/her near you. Otherwise, you may be down on the 5-yard line with a wet ball and they are hacking around up on the 30. Not good.

Also, on our crew, it is the R and U who use the hand-on-the-face signal to acknowledge between them that they have a covered up tight-end (unbalanced line). They are the ones who will see him go downfield on a pass and throw the flag when the pass crosses the scrimmage line. You can't ask wing officials to do this.
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Old Wed Aug 29, 2007, 05:13pm
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As a new official, this has been a good read, especially since I will be working primarily at LJ and HL this year.

I had scrimmages last weekend, and while I felt I understood the mechanics pretty well, I felt shaky on my coverage during passing plays and what I was supposed to be looking at. I have gotten some good advice from officials in my association but do you folks have any tips for pass coverage in four man mechanics?
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Old Thu Aug 30, 2007, 09:03am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Welpe
As a new official, this has been a good read, especially since I will be working primarily at LJ and HL this year.

I had scrimmages last weekend, and while I felt I understood the mechanics pretty well, I felt shaky on my coverage during passing plays and what I was supposed to be looking at. I have gotten some good advice from officials in my association but do you folks have any tips for pass coverage in four man mechanics?
Watch the players. You need to know roughly when/where the ball is coming, but mostly watch the players. Keep a wide enough angle so that you can see action around the primary receiver.

Up through the HS level, receivers will often show you if they expect the ball or not - if they start sprinting at the snap, you'd better get on your horse, too. You need to go with the deepest man on your side, but you don't need to be stride-for-stride with him. In fact, you NEVER want to be even with a receiver when the ball arrives - it will make it much harder to see what's going on. Try to keep the deep man within 10 yards and stay wide until the ball is thrown, then if the pass is toward the middle of the field, you can start moving in as you proceed downfield.

If you've got twins or trips to your side, and the pass is to one of the short receivers, try to be still when the ball arrives so that you get the best look possible at the play. You're going to be ahead of the play, so once the catch is made, treat it like a normal run play: stay wide and let the runner go by you.

If there appear to be no receivers on your side of the field on a pass play, look for someone crossing from the opposite side - you may still need to bust downfield to make a call on a deep ball. If not, you can watch some of the backside blocking, especially if the QB is rolling out to the opposite side. (Make sure any flag you throw is for a foul that materially affects the play or for a safety foul.)
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Old Thu Aug 30, 2007, 09:07am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bisonlj
The balanced line/unbalanced line signals have never made sense to me. I've never heard a mechanic or key that changes based on whether or not the line is balanced. The only place I've heard it applied is when determining 7 on the line. To me it is so much easier to verify there are 11 and then count 4 in the back field. "Punching Back" helps both the receiver on your end and the other wing. Nobody has ever been able to explain why counting linemen on your side of the ball is better or easier than counting the number of backs.
As a wing I will not argue about "better or easier", but will state how our crew uses the balanced/unbalanced signals. These signals aid in the communication of the entire crew. When we count lineman and we are unbalanced, we now have a player who is "covered up" by someone else on the end of the line of scrimmage. If the player who is covered is wearing a number that allows him to "normally" be eligible to catch a pass--our signals have now communicated to each wing and the back judge (and the referee) that we have a potential ineligible in the line of scrimmage. The normal "keys" will be impacted if this "ineligible" runs a fly pattern right at the back judge and a pass is thrown. Because of our signals we are all aware of the penalty\potential penalty.

Just food for thought on how\why we use the signals.
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