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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 09:18am
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NFHS Ball Mechanics

This was posted by a coach in another forum but not many NFHS refs there so I brought it here for you experts. Your thoughts? What is the standard NFHS mechanic (if one) re balls and ballboys?
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Entering a semi-final play-off game last week in another part of our state the officials stated during our pre-game meeting on the field (after I told them we were a no-huddle team) that they would have the game balls entering from the home side of the field and that the home team's ball boy would be responsible for the balls. I stated that being a no-huddle team that our ball boy was very important to our game speed and tempo, that he had been trained to be on-point and that there would be another kid chase down incomplete balls that went out of bounds. Their response was, "that isn't how we do things over-here and we will do what we are comfortable with." Not only that, but they only wanted one game ball for the home team ball boy.

I have been coaching in my current state for 13 years and have never heard of, or experienced the game balls only coming in from the home team side and using the home team ball boy. I have never seen that happen at any level? College? NFL? Is that normal? What happens in your state?

Have you ever had this happen to you? What would you have done in this situation? This is our first year of running the no-huddle so I am a little new to this type of offensive strategy and a big part of that strategy went up in smoke after that pre-game meeting.

Am I making too much out of this? How essential is your ball boy to your tempo in the no-huddle?

Any thoughts???

By-the-way...we lost the playoff game by 8pts.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 10:21am
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For us, each team has their own ball boy(s) and they are responsible for getting the balls in and out for their team. For long incomplete pass plays we explicitly instruct the ball boys to get the new ball in, and let someone else retrieve the other ball. I have never heard of balls only coming in from the home team side.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 10:30am
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Wow!! Why would you have the home team side be responsible for both sets of footballs? Seems that I would tend to forget about the visiting team and their no-huddle offense. That would provide a great advantage. But this goes to what I have been talking about for years.....why is it necessary to have two sets of footballs. How about home team supplies the footballs....there is one that stays in the field and the ball boys stationed at both ends of the field can feed us additional ones when needed. Im sure the U's would enjoy that since that would never half to yell about getting a guy with a big number to bring a ball. And while Im on a rant...that would eliminate those baloon footballs that they try to sneak in and kick. Lastly, Red Cashion, the retired NFL R always said that we work for the coaches and the game. How is dictating what a crew will and won't do--doing anything but creating a tense atmosphere before the national anthem.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 10:33am
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I only wish we had teams with trained ball boys and would bring more than 1 game ball. If we only have one ball boy then we will bring the balls in from one side similar to what this crew mandated. But, if both teams supply ball boys we would use both sidelines. Ideally, we would like to have balls from both teams on both sides, but in a high school game I've never been able to do that due to lack of ball boys and game balls. Similar to college, it would be nice if at the FED level both teams were mandated to use the same brand of ball. This would eliminate the possibility of relaying in the wrong team's ball which seems to happen once or twice every season.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 11:27am
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I can only assume that they were talking about possession changes, as I find it hard to believe that if there's an incomplete pass on the L's sideline that the crew would go to the OPPOSITE SIDE of the field to get a ball. If that is what they did, then the crew is doing it wrong. Honestly, I don't know what the big deal is with ball rotation but some guys seem to struggle with it.

I don't know that theres an "official" NFHS ball mechanic, but this is what I was taught. Each team provides 3 balls prior to the game and ball boys for their sidelines. 4 are kept on the LJs side (2H/2V), 2 are kept on the L's side (1H/1V). On a change of possession, the LJ brings in a ball, tosses it to the U who changes the offense's ball. The changed ball goes off to the LJ's side. Anytime the ball goes outside the numbers, you switch the ball, UNLESS THEY ARE IN A HURRY UP. If they are in a hurry up, then the same ball stays in. It's been that way since I started working HS and was the same this year working my 1st year of college.

Ball rotation is not really rocket science, but it will make a crew look bad if you screw it up.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 11:38am
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We aren't going to force our mechanics on anyone. We can work with ball boys from both sides or one side. We've had games where one side says we don't have a ball boy and the other side has handled both with no problems. That crew is pretty arrogant and/or completely inept if you ask me.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 11:51am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdf5 View Post
We aren't going to force our mechanics on anyone. We can work with ball boys from both sides or one side. We've had games where one side says we don't have a ball boy and the other side has handled both with no problems. That crew is pretty arrogant and/or completely inept if you ask me.
My thoughts exactly. I will adjust to whatever the conference/school practice is.

That said, I could've kissed the coach late in the season who told me he'd just use the home team footballs, if that was OK with the home coach. It was and we rarely had to change footballs and we had a ball boy ready with 2 balls anyway.

Regarding the OP's situation -- I'm not going to start a new series unless the chains are set and the new defense has had an ample opportunity to substitute after a punt or free kick, anyway, so I'm not sure if it matters much in those situations. On long incompletes, we're getting a new ball immediately anyway, so I'm not sure how that would change things, either. Now, since they are only asking for one football, I guess the crew would be waiting on that same football to come back, which is, IMO, poor officiating anyway.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 12:18pm
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In our area, we will use a ball person from each team if they wish but there have been times the visiting coach is fine with one person handling balls for both teams. It really depends upon the team. As an aside, the only time we rotate balls is during inclement weather or when a ball malfunctions otherwise they use the same ball for their entire offensive series.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 01:12pm
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It wasn't until I moved to Arizona that I saw the practice of both teams' footballs coming in from one side of the field. Wings were always responsible for the ball on their side in Illinois, at least in the games I worked. That's what I was used to. If you had the chains, obviously, that's one more thing you had to do, but that was just the way it was.

Out here, it seems like many referees want it done the other way, which is fine. I don't have a strong preference one way or the other, but have learned as a wing that if your white hat ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. If he can't or is unwilling to adjust to a coach's wishes - even on a (usually) little thing like this - that's his deal.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 01:47pm
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This issue connects back to a previous discussion; who actually determines when a ball change is necessary? It's no less an unearned disadvantage to rush a new ball into play, to satisfy an offensive plan, than it is to slow down ball retrieval to satisfy the defense.

The Referee (officials) should decide when a new ball is to be exchanged NOT THE OFFENSE and it's our obligation to be fair and equitable about it. If a field is wet and the ball hits the deck, we likely look for another ball. When an incomplete pass, or OOB kick bounces far away from the field, we look for another ball. When it's raining, snowing or otherwise sloppy we usually choose to exchange balls more frequently. However we choose to do it, the important thing is the we decide how, and when, it will be done

The reason we try to set a consistent tone for declaring the ball RFP is so one team doesn't steal an unfair advantage over the other. It's not fair to slow an offense down because the defense wants a slower pace, but it's no less unfair to let the offense decide what the pace should be to satisfy their plans, at the expense of the defense.

When the officials are in complete control of the pace of the RFP as well as the exchange of game balls, nobody gets an unfair advantage.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 03:03pm
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We usually don't have an option due to lack of balls and ballboys. Most games we keep the ball boy with one ball from each team near the chains.

I would never tell a coach how he can do it. We have had coaches who wanted to keep their ball on their own side and that is fine.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 06:04pm
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ajmc...I don't think the point is that the officials were being told anything. Yes, we do have control over the ball getting into the field and being set ready for play. But it's not our perogative as officials to tell a coach that he can't have his ball boy take care of the ball, etc. The crew mentioned in the opening post to this thread showed arrogance and dictated that there would be no choice in the ball boys.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 06:17pm
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It would be nice to run balls from both teams off both sidelines, but we often have trouble getting 1 good ball boy, let alone two. Because of that we have teams keep their footballs on their own side of the field. Some people prefer to have all the footballs come off one sideline, but this requires a ball boy to work from his opponent's sideline (which can be very uncomfortable for an 8-yr old ball boy). Yes, this means a long incompletion on the L's side can mean getting a new ball from the opposite side, but this is not too difficult.
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Old Tue Dec 02, 2008, 06:55pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSU213 View Post
Some people prefer to have all the footballs come off one sideline, but this requires a ball boy to work from his opponent's sideline (which can be very uncomfortable for an 8-yr old ball boy).
Not if one kid does both and he's on his sideline.

I've had great kids who can handle both teams' footballs from one sideline without any issues whatsoever. And if he's on his sideline, all the better.
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Old Wed Dec 03, 2008, 08:40am
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We try and work with both teams

With the rise of no-huddle offenses, this has become a big issue in the past few years. Our association's crews always try and work with each team to allow them to run balls in when they feel they need to. (We of course don't let them just run a ball in on fourth downs for obvious reasons). Likewise, finding good, quick ballboys who pay attention is always a challenge. Ironically, it's usually the coaches who push us in the pregame to hurry the RFP for their no-huddle who have the slowest ballboys.

One pet peeve this U has for R's and other crew members: Don't relay out the ball so quickly on a change of possession. I like to place the ball on the spot at the end of play, and then replace it with the incoming offense's ball before lifting and relaying out the old one. Why? Because if I have a ballboy who decided to go get a Coke or hit on a female trainer on the sideline rather than do his job, I still have a football to work with and we can play with the "wrong team's ball." When you relay out the only football, we stand their looking like morons screaming "Ball! Ball!" at the top of our lungs.
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