High School Football Official – Crew Communication

Let’s talk about high school football official crew communication

It is vital that as a crew you have fluid communication between each position on the field.  This is significant for any level of football.  As a varsity football crew we break down our communication as follows:

Football Crew Communication Signals –

  • Linesman and Line Judge (Wings) – A fist held straight out to the side – represents the nearest player off the line. This is used to communicate that their man is off the line – and signals to each other to count the players in the back field if both show this signal.  This is specific for an illegal formation – not enough players on the line.
  • Linesman and Line Judge (Wings) – A palm to the cheek represents an unbalanced line – signaling to everyone to look for numbering issues, ineligibles, and position of players.
  • All officials – Two fist crossed, signals two stakes – more than ten yards to gain for a first down
  • Linesman and Line Judge (Wings) – When a play ends on the sideline – two arms held down with palms toward the sideline represents ‘Player out of bounds’.  Clock will start on the next snap
  • Linesman and Line Judge (Wings) – When a play ends on the sideline – two arms held down with palms toward the field of play represents ‘Player in bounds’.  Clock is still running
  • Linesman and Line Judge (Wings) – On a pass play behind the line of scrimmage the wings may have to signal the direction of the ball.  If the pass was backward this signaling is done by putting an open hand held straight out to the side.  If the pass was forward – no signal is needed.   This is critical if a backward-passed ball is recovered in bounds by the defense or goes out of bounds to mark the new spot for the offense.
  • All officials – Starting the clock, this is done by rotating an arm in a large circle in front of the body (called winding the clock).
  • All officials – Stopping the clock to indicate that the play progress was stopped out of bounds.  This is done by crossing the arms above the head two times.
  • When a first down is reached the process is to stop (wind) the clock two times and then restart it .  This signals that the first down was reached and that the referee will start the clock on the ready for play.
  • All officials – will rotate each fist over each other to signal that the next play will give protection for the snapper on punts, field goals, and or tries.
  • All officials – some crews will pound a fist on top of each other to signal that after the next play we will stop the clock in unison – this is used as a reminder to each crew member.
  • All officials will hold a fist straight up to signal that they have counted their respective teams (offense or defense – depending on the official) for eleven players.  This is done to signal that there are not too many players during a play.
  • It is vital that you communicate as a crew to how the signaling is done. Signals need to be consistent and should be discussed during pre-game.
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by Patrick Blanchard