NFL FLAG RULEBOOK

Coach link for FREE USA football Membership / FREE insurance

All coaches and players must complete the online NFL FLAG Participation Agreement in order to be eligible to participate in NFL Flag football. It only takes a minute and completion of the agreements provides free NFL Flag player insurance coverage and gives coaches and parents a free membership to the USA Football website which provides lots of information, tools and many online resources for coaches and parents regarding flag and tackle football.

 

Please follow the links below to complete your online NFL Flag agreement and receive your free player insurance & USA Football membership. Thanks for your support of NFL Flag football!!

 

1) Concussion Training: 
Please follow the link below and complete the free online concussions course. In order to complete the FREE course you will need to set up an account and purchase the FREE concussion course at no cost to you. After you complete the course you will receive a certificate that you can email or fax back to us at the number below. This is a State requirement and must be completed before you have your first practice. http://nfhslearn.com/courses/38000
If you have completed the concussion course within the last year you do not need to complete the course again. We will still need a copy of your certificate. If you have any questions about your current status, reprinting your certificate or setting up a new account please call NFHS Learning Center at 317-565-2023 or email help@nfhslearn.com.  If you coached in the Fall of 2014,  I have a copy of your certificate on file. 

Heat preparedness starts in practice (click icon to left to watch)

Record temperatures across the nation are being set this summer. Make sure your coaches know how to help players handle the heat and stay hydrated

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Coaching Tips

Coaching Tips

EVERYBODY PLAYS

NFL FLAG games were designed to make it easy for every player to participate in their team's success. While size and skill certainly come into play when the action starts, your coaching should emphasize this aspect of "working together.”

TACKLE TACKLING EARLY

Don't let your practices dissolve into a giant pile of rambunctious kids. For both their safety and your sanity, make sure to discourage any tackling or roughness early on. Remind them that they won't help their team in a game by tackling or being rough.

SPORTSMANSHIP RULES!

Help your players be good sports. After a game, shake hands with or do a cheer for the other team. Applaud good play by both sides. Treat officials with respect. While imitating you, your team won't even recognize the good lesson they’re learning.

LET THEM PLAY FOOTBALL!

The temptation to be another Don Shula or Bill Walsh will have to wait. This is NFL FLAG. While teaching football skills and strategies is important, keep your lessons as simple as possible. As your team grasps the basics, move on to more advanced ideas. Overloading young players with too much information too early can cause confusion for them and headaches for you.

HAVE FUN!

We thank you for your volunteer service. NFL FLAG couldn't happen without you – but remember to have fun too!

Coaching Resources FAQs

Coaching Resources FAQs

Why is it important to be the best coach you can be?

The children you teach will remember you and be affected by everything you have taught them forever!! The children you teach will remember you and be affected by everything you have taught them forever!! The children you teach will remember you and be affected by everything you have taught them forever!! The children you teach will remember you and be affected by everything you have taught them forever!!

Do players have to receive equal playing time?

NFL FLAG recommends you do your best to provide equal playing time for each child. Remember, NFL FLAG is a platform for young athletes to learn the basics of football and every player should have the opportunity to better their skills equally.

Ten Coaching Guidelines

Ten Coaching Guidelines

  1. A coach should be enthusiastic without being intimidating. They should be sensitive to the children's feelings and genuinely enjoy spending time with them. A coach should be dedicated to serving children and understand that football provides physical and emotional growth for its participants. Remember, NFL FLAG is for the children.
  2. A coach needs to realize that they are a teacher, not a drill sergeant. They should help children learn and work to improve their skills. Personal gains are never a consideration. The job does not depend on winning. The best interest of the child transforms into the best interests of the game.
  3. The safety and welfare of the children never can be compromised. A coach will consider these factors above all others.
  4. Be patient. Don't push children beyond limits in regards to practice. Children have many daily pressures – the football experience should not be one of them. Playing football should be fun.
  5. Care more about the players as people than as athletes. The youth football program is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  6. A coach should encourage players to dream and set lofty goals. It is important to remain positive and refrain from discouraging remarks. Negative comments are remembered far more often than positive affirmations.
  7. Remember that the rules of the game are designed to protect the participants, as well as to set a standard for competition. Never circumvent or take advantage of the rules by teaching deliberate misconduct. A coach who puts his or her opponents' team at risk should not be involved with children.
  8. Be the first person to demonstrate good sportsmanship. Take a low profile during the game and allow the kids to be the center of attention.
  9. Parents and players place a lot of trust and confidence in the coach. The coach has an important role in molding the athletic experience of the child.
  10. A coach can measure success by the respect he gets from his or her players, regardless of victories or defeats. Children who mature socially and physically while participating in sports are the best indication of good coaching.

Receiver Route Definitions

Receiver Route Definitions

Quick Out (1):
This is a 5-8 yard route forward then the receiver cuts out towards the sideline then looks for the ball.

Slant (2):

This is a 3-5 yard route forward then the receiver breaks towards the middle of the filed on a 45 degree angle and looks for the ball.

Deep Out (3):

This is a 10-15 yard route. It should be run exactly like the quick out only deeper.

Drag/In (4):

This is a 5-8 yard route forward then the receiver breaks into the middle of the filed on a 90 degree angle and looks for the ball.

Flag (5):

This is a 10-15 yard route forward then the receiver breaks at a 45 degree angle towards the sideline and looks for the ball.

Curl (6):

This is a 5-8 yard route forward then the receiver stops and turns to the ball.

Post Corner (7):

This is a 12-20 yard route forward then the receiver cuts on a 45 degree angle to the middle of the field for a few steps then the receiver cuts on a 45 degree angle towards the sideline and then looks for the ball.

Post (8):

This is a 12-20 yard route forward then the receiver breaks on a 45 degree angle towards the middle of the field and looks for the ball.

Fly (9):

This route is run straight up the field with the receiver looking for the ball after he gets past about 15 yards.

Plays Examples - 1

Plays Examples - 1

Based on the passing tree routes, and using our formula of calling your receiver routes from left to right followed by the running back route then the center route, the following play would be called:

 


Split T – Left Fly – Right Fly – H Flare Left – Center Stop

 

If we stick with our formula, the same play in a different formation will look like this:

 

Twins Right – Single Back – Left Fly – Right Fly – H Flare Left – Center Stop

Plays Examples - 2

Plays Examples - 2

 

Trips Right – Left Fly – Middle Fly – Right Fly – Center Arrow
 

 

If we stick with our formula, the same play in a different formation will look like this:

 

Twins Right – No Back – Left Fly – Middle Stop – Right Fly – Center Arrow

1 – Quick Out, 2 – Slant, 3 – Deep Out, 4 – Drag/In, 5 – Flag, 6 – Curl, 7 – Post Corner, 8 – Post, 9 - Fly

If you are using the numeric play calling system from the passing tree we would call these plays:

Trips Left – 222- Center Arrow or Trips Right – 222 – Center Arrow

The goal of this play is to isolate your center for an easy completion. This play works well in a man-to-man cover situation with one safety and one rusher, where you are able to run all the defenders out of the area you want your center to go. The key to this play is to have your center delay for a count of two to three seconds to allow your other receivers the chance to cross the centers face at a deep angle (hopefully drawing the safety into the coverage) and take their defenders at full speed away from the play. Once the rusher is focused on the quarterback, the center can then release to the play side and should find himself/ herself wide open.

Advanced Play Calling

Advanced Play Calling

Now this play would be called:
Trips Right – 999 – Center Arrow

Instead of:
Trips Right – Left Fly – Middle Fly – Right Fly – Center Arrow

The key to using this numeric system is to ensure that each receiver knows their position within the formation.

  • The first number is the left receiver
  • The second number is the middle receiver
  • The third number is the right receiver



Important Reminders:

  • You will continue to call the routes (without using numbers) for the running back (when necessary), and the center.
  • If you are using a two-receiver formation, then the play call should only be two digits rather than three.

Passing Tree

The Passing Tree is a numbered system used for the passing routes. The passing tree system is designed so that all even-numbered routes (2,4,6,8) are run towards the middle of the field and all odd-numbered routes (1,3,5,7,9) are be run towards the sideline. These routes are used for all positions on the field. The running back has extra routes that are always be referred to by name. Since the ball is always placed in the middle of the field, the center faces the dilemma, and all of the center’s routes should be based on the play design.

Coaching Video 1 of 4 (Click icon to left to watch)

Coaching Video 2 of 4 (Click icon to left to watch)

Coaching Video 3 of 4 (Click icon to left watch)

Coaching Video 4 of 4 (Click icon to left to watch)

Coaching Video Post routes (Click icon to left to watch)

Learn to play! (Click icon to left to watch)

Football Glossary

 

·         Football Glossary

 

  • aiding the runner
    An offensive player shall not push, pull or lift the runner to assist his forward progress. The official, using both arms facing down and with hands open and forward at the waist, will make a pushing movement two times. The result is a five-yard penalty for the offense.
  • audible
    A vocal signal (or silent gesture) at the line of scrimmage to change the play previously called in the huddle.
  • aura
    An unusual or bizarre sensations of sight, hearing, smell or taste that precede a seizure or migraine headache. backboard
    An inflexible board made of wood or plastic to keep an injured person's back from bending while being transported to an emergency room or hospital.
  • backfield
    Players who are between the tackles and one yard or more behind the scrimmage line when the ball is snapped. It typically includes quarterbacks, running backs and wing backs.
  • back judge
    Used in five-, six- and seven-person officiating groups. The back judge is an official positioned in the middle of the field, deep from the line of scrimmage. Also known as the "center fielder," he is primary on passing plays and scrimmage kicks.
  • backpedal
    The act of running backward, often by a linebacker or defensive back in pass coverage.
  • backward pass
    A backward pass is a pass thrown parallel with or toward the runner's end line.
  • ball is ready for play
    The official extends his right arm fully above his head and brings it straight down to his waist.
  • batting
    Batting is intentionally striking the ball with the arm or hand.
  • biopsy
    Removal by surgery or aspiration of a small amount of tissue or fluid for laboratory examination and diagnosis. Biopsy is most often used to differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue.
  • blitz
    A play in which the defense commits extra players, in addition to linemen, to rush the passer.
  • block
    The act of preventing a defensive player from getting to the ball-carrier or the quarterback.
  • bootleg
    A roll out by a quarterback who is pretending he does not have the football. It often takes the quarterback away from his blockers.
  • brochi (bronchial tubes)
    Hollow air passages that branch from the largest segment (the windpipe or trachea) into the lungs. Oxygen-containing air passes into the lungs through the bronchial tubes, and waste gases (mostly carbon dioxide) pass out of the lungs.
  • bump-and-run
    When a defender tries to slow a receiver coming off the line of scrimmage before dropping into coverage. The goal is to disrupt the timing of the play.
  • cadence
    The words and numbers spoken by the quarterback after the offense is set. Audibles often are concealed inside the cadence.
  • catch
    A catch is the act of establishing player possession of a live ball in flight.
  • center
    The player at the middle of the offensive line who snaps the ball to the quarterback.
  • chain
    A 10-yard length of chain used to measure the distance required for a first down.
  • chop block
    The official, using both arms facing down, will make a chopping motion two times towards his waist with his arms/hands.
  • clipping
    Clipping is a block against an opponent when the initial contact is from behind, at or below the waist and not against a player who is a runner or pretending to be a runner. The official, using one arm, will swipe forward across the back of his knee or lower thigh. The result is a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
  • coin toss signal
    The official will tap the winning captain on the shoulder, turn to the press box and signal either option deferred, option to receive. Captains should be turned with their backs to their goal lines.
  • concussion
    A type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way a brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.
  • cornerback
    Defensive players positioned at the edges of the defense, often across from wide receivers. Cornerbacks primarily serve roles in pass coverage, but they also have tackle responsibilities on wide runs and sweeps.
  • cross block
    A block in which two linemen block defenders who are diagonally opposite the blockers’ own starting positions. One of the blockers, usually the outside blocker, goes in front.
  • cut back
    A sudden change in direction taken by a ball-carrier to make it more difficult for defenders to follow. Often, a cut back takes a runner away from his blockers.
  • dead ball
    The official raises his right arm directly above his shoulder, holding it for at least two seconds.
  • dead-ball officiating
    Activity during the time immediately after the ball becomes dead. Officials should not stop officiating when the ball is dead. They continue to watch the players and potential personal fouls.
  • defensive back
    A generic term that includes cornerbacks and safeties. Defensive backs also is a synonym for secondary.
  • defensive end
    Defensive players positioned at the end of the defensive line. Defensive ends often are responsible for keeping any running plays from getting outside of them.
  • defensive formation
    An alignment of defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs positioned to stop a particular offense.
  • defensive line
    The makeup of a defensive line can differ from team to team. Typically, it consists of tackles and ends. It also can contain a nose guard.
  • delay of game
    A delay of game can be the result of several different infractions, including: Failure to snap or free kick within 25-seconds after the ball is marked ready for play, unnecessarily carrying the ball after it has become dead or consuming time in failing to un-pile at the end of a down, snapping or free kicking the ball before it is marked ready for play or failure to wear legal or required equipment when the ball is about to become live. The official will cross his hand/arms over in front of his chest, arms parallel to the ground and hold this position for at least two seconds. The result is a five-yard penalty.
  • dime defense
    A defensive alignment in which there are six defensive backs.
  • disregard flag
    The official, with his flag in hand, waves his hand/arm across his body two times.
  • double team
    The act of two offensive players blocking the same defender or two defensive players covering the same eligible receiver.
  • downfield
    Refers to the direction the offensive team is moving with the ball. On a scrimmage down, it is the area beyond the neutral zone. The opposite of upfield.
  • downs
    A series of four consecutive charged scrimmages allotted to the offensive team. To retain possession, the offense must advance the ball 10 yards to a yard line during these scrimmages.
  • drive
    A series of plays the offensive team puts together in an attempt to score.
  • drop back
    The movement away from the line of scrimmage taken by a quarterback after the snap. It is used to get the quarterback in position to throw or as a decoy on a running play.
  • eligible receiver
    Any offensive player legally permitted to receive a forward pass. The player must be on either end of the line of scrimmage or legally in the backfield.
  • encroachment
    Encroachment occurs when a player is illegally in the neutral zone during the time interval starting when the ball is marked ready for play and until the ball is snapped or free kicked. It is a dead ball penalty and results in a five-yard penalty from the succeeding spot.
  • end of period
    The official, with ball in hand, extends his arm directly above his shoulder for at least two seconds.
  • end zone
    The area bounded by the goal line, end line and sidelines.
  • face mask, five yards
    The official, using one hand with fist closed, will pull his hand down from just below his chin to the top of his chest.
  • failure to wear mandatory equipment
    The official will place one hand directly behind his head/hat and hold this position for at least two seconds.
  • fair catch
    A fair catch is a catch of a free kick or scrimmage kick by a player of Team B (receiving team) after a valid signal, where the ball is untouched beyond the neutral zone.
  • fair catch
    An unhindered catch by a member of the receiving team of any kick that has crossed the kicking team’s line of scrimmage or free-kick line, provided that the proper signal (one hand and arm extended above the head and moving from side to side) has been given by the receiver.
  • false start
    A false start is any movement simulating action prior to the snap. This may be a shift, feint, an act to cause Team B to encroach, or a Team A interior lineman who after placing his hand on or near the ground, shifts or makes a quick movement. The official, in front of his chest, will roll his forearms forward in a circular motion 2-3 times.
  • fask mask
    Grasping, turning, pulling, twisting an opponent's face mask, any edge or opening including the chin strap. First using the personal foul signal, the official will then use one hand with his fist closed, pulling his hand down from just below his chin to the top of his chest. The result is a 15-yard penalty.
  • field goal
    A place-kick or dropkick from scrimmage that goes over the crossbar and through the uprights of the goal without touching the ground first. Three points are awarded for a field goal.
  • field judge
    [6-7] A field judge is a deep sideline official, a primary on passing plays and scrimmage kicks.
  • field of play
    The field of play is the in-bounds area that extends goal line to goal line and sideline to sideline. The goal line is not part of the field of play.
  • first down
    The first in the series of four downs in which an offensive team must advance 10 yards to retain possession of the ball. To signal a first down, the official extends his arm straight ahead in the direction the offensive team is moving.
  • first touching
    During a free kick, first touching is touching the ball by a member of the kicking team before the kick travels ten yards, or before the receiving team touches it.
  • forward pass
    A forward pass is a pass thrown that strikes anything beyond the spot of the pass, including the ground, a player or an official.
  • forward progress
    A runner's forward progress toward an opponent's goal line is stopped when contact from an opponent allows the runner little change to resume. The exact moment in which a player's forward progress is stopped is subject to the judgment of the officials.
  • four-point stance
    The position taken by a defensive lineman before snap in which both hands are on the ground.
  • free kick
    A kick from a tee that starts either half or follows a score. A kickoff is a free kick.
  • fullback
    An offensive player lined up in the backfield whose primary duty usually is as a blocker. The fullback often lines up behind the quarterback but in front of or to the side of a running back or tailback.
  • fumble
    The act of an offensive player losing possession of the ball during play, other than an incomplete pass. A fumble is a live ball situation where either side can gain possession unless the ball goes out of bounds.
  • goal line
    The goal line is the vertical plane which separates the field of play from the end zone. The goal line is part of the end zone.
  • goal line defense
    A defensive alignment used near the defensive team’s own goal line that features defensive players driving for penetration through the gaps and has all defensive players close to the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stop the offensive team from scoring a touchdown by running or passing the ball across the goal line.
  • guard
    An offensive linemen positioned next to the center.
  • head linesman
    [3-4-5-6-7] The head linesmen is a sideline official at the line of scrimmage, responsible for the yardage chains and the down box.
  • heat stroke
    A severe condition caused by impairment of the body's temperature-regulating abilities, resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive heat and characterized by cessation of sweating, severe headache, high fever, hot dry skin and in serious cases collapse and coma.
  • holder
    The player who secures the ball and holds it in place for a field goal try.
  • holding
    Use of the hands, arms or legs to hook, lock, clamp, grasp, encircle or hold in an effort to restrain your opponent. The official, using both arms/hands in front of his chest or to the side of his chest, with one hand hold the wrist of the other arm. The result is a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
  • huddle
    The act of grouping an offense or defense together prior to lining up in order to call the play.
  • hydration
    The act of supplying water to a person in order to restore or maintain fluid balance.
  • I-formation
    An offensive formation in which the fullback is positioned 2 to 4 yards behind a quarterback, who is positioned immediately behind the center, and the halfback is positioned behind the fullback another 2 to 3 yards.
  • illegal batting
    Batting the ball is an intentional act of striking it or intentionally changing it direction with the hand or arms. It is legal to bat a loose ball backward but illegal to intentionally bat a loose ball forward. The official will tap the top of his shoulder using one hand. The result is a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul. It may sometimes result in a loss of downs for Team A.
  • illegal block in the back
    illegal block in the back is a block against an opponent when the initial contact is in the opponent's back, inside the shoulders and below the helmet and above the waist and not against a player who is a runner or pretending to be a runner. The official, using both arms, with one hand open and facing forward, hold that wrist with the other hand and make a push forward and hold that position for at least two seconds. The result is a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
  • illegal helmet contact
    The official will place one hand, with closed fist, against the side of his head/hat.
  • illegal kick
    An illegal kick is going beyond the neutral zone and kicking/punting the football. The result is a dead ball with a five-yard penalty from the spot of the foul and loss of down.
  • illegal kicking
    Illegal kicking is intentionally kicking a loose ball, generally in an attempt to prevent your opponent from recovering the loose ball. The official will tap the top of his shoulder using one hand, followed by a point toward the toe to denote the illegal kicking. The result is a 15-yards penalty. If by Team A, a loss of down also. There is not an automatic first down if by Team B.
  • illegal motion
    Movement at the snap by a Team A player that is not backward or parallel to the line of scrimmage. The official, in front of his chest with one arm parallel to the ground, will extend one hand and forearm forward two times. The result is a five-yard penalty from the previous spot.
  • illegal participation
    Playing with 12 or more players during a down or free kick. A player trying to get off the field at the snap may be considered illegal substitution. 12 or more participating through the down is illegal participation. The official will place both hands on top of his head/hat and hold this position for at least two seconds. The result is a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot.
  • illegal pass or illegal forward handing
    Throwing a pass when the passer is completely beyond the line of scrimmage; or throwing a 2nd forward pass during the same down; or any forward pass following a free kick, or change of possession play. Facing the press box, the official using one hand/arm will make a downward motion from the back of his belt to the ground and back two times. The result is a five-yard penalty from the spot of the foul and, if during a "down" play by Team A, a loss of down.
  • illegal shift
    An illegal shift may be two or more Team A players moving at the snap or 11 players on Team A not coming to a complete stop for one second prior to the snap or shifting. The official, in front of his chest with his hands parallel to the ground, will extend his hands and forearms forward two times. The result is a five-yard penalty from the previous spot.
  • illegal touching
    Touching of a free kick by a member of the kicking team when no Team B player has touched the kick or the kick has traveled 10-yards. On a scrimmage kick (punt), no in-bounds player of the kicking team shall touch a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone before it touches an opponent. This is not a penalty but deemed a violation that gives Team B the option to take the ball at this illegal touching spot if not trumped by an accepted penalty. The official touches his shoulders with two or three taps using both hands. Illegal touching of a forward pass by an ineligible Team A player results in a five-Yard penalty from the previous spot.
  • inadvertent whistle
    An inadvertent whistle is a whistle blown by an official in error while the ball is still alive. An inadvertent whistle causes a live ball to become dead. The official extends his right arm, with a closed fist, directly in front of his chest.
  • incomplete pass
    The official crosses both arms across his chest and extends them back open, repeating this a second time.
  • ineligible downfield
    An ineligible player is generally an interior lineman, center, guard, tackle or a covered receiver. Ineligibles are restricted from being more than three-yards down field prior to the pass being thrown. The official, using one hand, will tap the top of his head/hat. The result is a five-yard penalty from the previous spot.
  • intentional grounding
    A pass thrown into an area not occupied by an eligible receiver; generally the passer is under duress of being sacked for a loss. Using both hands/arms, the official will make a forward motion from his shoulder toward the ground and slightly across his body. The result is a five-yard penalty from the spot of the foul and a loss of down.
  • interception
    A pass caught in the air by a defensive player that immediately changes possession.
  • invalid or illegal fair catch signal
    A valid fair-catch signal is the extending and lateral waving of one arm at full arm’s length above the head by any member of the receiving team. An invalid fair-catch signal is any signal by a receiver before the kick is caught or recovered that does not meet the requirements of a valid signal; made after the kick has touched an R player; or made after the kick has touched the ground. An illegal fair-catch signal is any signal by a runner after the kick has been caught or after the kick has been recovered. The official will hold his hand and forearm up in a "stop sign" type signal. Hold this position for at least two seconds. The result is a dead ball with a five-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
  • kick-catch interference
    While any free kick is in flight in or beyond the neutral zone to the receiver’s goal line or any scrimmage kick is in flight beyond the neutral zone to the receiver’s goal line, the kicking team players shall not touch the ball or the receiver in position to make the catch, unless blocked into the ball or the receiver or to ward off a blocker, nor obstruct receiver’s path to the ball. That prohibition applies even when no fair-catch signal is given, but it does not apply after a free kick has been touched by a receiving team player or after a scrimmage kick has been touched by a receiving team player who was clearly beyond the neutral zone at the time of touching. The result is a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot, accept the penalty only at the spot of the foul, or accept the results of the play.
  • kicker
    A kicker is a player who legally punts, drop kicks or place kicks. He continues to be a kicker until he has reasonable opportunity to regain his balance.
  • kicker
    The term most often used for the player who kicks off or attempts field goals. It also can be a generic term for punter.
  • kickoff signal
    To make the ball ready for play, the official [referee] will blow his whistle and give a one or two arm beckoning signal toward the kicker.
  • lateral
    A backward pass. Players may lateral the football as many times as they want in a play, but the ball is live when it is thrown or pitched backward and any player may recover it.
  • legal touching of forward pass or scrimmage kick
    The official, raising both hands above his head holds one arm still and with his other hand makes a "tip" type movement across his extended hand.
  • linebacker
    Defensive players positioned behind the defensive line, often three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Linebackers often are the primary tacklers on defense but also are responsible in pass coverage.
  • line judge
    [4-5-6-7] The line judge is a sideline official at the line of scrimmage, responsible for determining forward progress and passing calls.
  • line of scrimmage
    The line of scrimmage is a line drawn sideline to sideline marking the spot where the ball will be put in play.
  • line to gain
    The line to gain is the spot that the offense needs to reach to be awarded a first down.
  • live ball
    A live ball is a ball in play. This occurs after the ball is legally snapped or free kicked.
  • long snapper
    The player who snaps the ball to a punter or a holder on a field goal try.
  • loose ball
    A loose ball is a pass, fumble or kick. A loose ball continues to be loose until a player gains possession of the ball or it becomes dead by rule.
  • loss of down
    The official places both of his hands directly behind his head, holding it for at least two seconds.
  • man-to-man coverage
    A defensive alignment in which linebackers and defensive backs are responsible for covering certain receivers from the offensive side.
  • midfield
    The 50-yard line on a 100-yard football field.
  • midfield
    The 50-yard line on a 100-yard football field or whatever point is midway between the end zones.
  • momentum
    Momentum is when, on a pass interception, fumble or kick inside the five-yard line, the player's original momentum carries him into the end zone and the ball is declared dead in team possession or it goes out of bounds in the end zone. This is not a safety.
  • motion
    Motion is the legal movement of one offensive player, who after being set moves either parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage as the ball is snapped.
  • muff
    A muff is when a player touches a loose ball [either incidentally or intentionally].
  • neutral zone
    The area between the offense and defense at the start of the play. Only the center is allowed in the neutral zone until after the ball is snapped.
  • neutral zone
    The neutral zone is the area between the two lines of scrimmage (i.e. the width of the football) during a scrimmage down.
  • nickle defense
    A defensive alignment in which there are five defensive backs.
  • nose guard
    The defensive player who lines up directly across from the center.
  • offensive line
    The five players - the center, two guards and two tackles - who line up on the middle of the offensive side within a yard of the line of scrimmage. These players are not eligible to catch a forward pass unless the ball is first touched by an eligible receiver.
  • offside defense or free kick encroachment
    The official will place both hands on the side of his hips [at the belt] and hold this position for two seconds.
  • pass interference
    Any player of Team A or Team B who is beyond the neutral zone and interferes with an eligible's opportunity to move toward or catch a pass. Examples include: Early contact, playing through the back, an arm bar, a cutoff, face guarding with or without contact, hook and turn. Foot entanglement is not pass interference if you are playing the ball. The result is a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot or, if by Team B, an automatic first down.
  • pass pattern
    A predetermined path that receivers take to help quarterbacks quickly locate them.
  • pass rush
    A defender’s attempt to tackle or hurry a member of the offensive team attempting to pass the football.
  • personal foul
    The official, with one arm extend in front of his body, will take his other hand in a striking motion against the extended arm's wrist.
  • pitch
    The act when the quarterback tosses the football on a lob trajectory, most often to a running back.
  • place kick
    An action in which the ball is kicked from a tee or from the hold of a member of the kicking team. It is used for field goals and kickoffs.
  • play-action pass
    A play in which a fake hand-off precedes a pass attempt. This fake is designed to draw in the linebackers and defensive backs and to slow the pass rush by making the defense think the play is a run.
  • player disqualification
    The official using one hand with his fist closed, will make a movement from in front of his chest to over his shoulder, indicating the disqualification of the player.
  • player possession
    A player gains possession when he is firmly holding or controlling a live ball or a ball to be free kicked.
  • pocket
    The area behind the offensive line where the quarterback is protected by his blockers.
  • possession
    Having control of the ball.
  • post scrimmage
    Post scrimmage is the spot, other than an attempted or successful field goal, where the scrimmage kick ends.
  • previous spot
    The previous spot is the spot where the previous snap occurred.
  • punt
    Kicking the ball after dropping it and before it reaches the ground. Offensive teams that have failed to cover 10 yards in their first three attempts often punt on the fourth down.
  • punt coverage
    The action of the players of the punting team running downfield when the ball is punted in an attempt to tackle the opponent who has fielded the punted ball, down an unfielded ball by touch or secure against a fumbled fair catch attempt.
  • punter
    The kicker who punts the ball, primarily on fourth down when an offense is not in position to kick a field goal or attempt another play to try for a first down.
  • pylon
    A short orange cone or marker at each of the end zone's four corners.
  • quarterback
    The player who receives the snap from center to start each play. The quarterback can run with the ball, throw it, hand it off to a teammate or lateral the ball to a teammate.
  • quarterback sneak
    A play in which a quarterback runs or dives over the line of scrimmage.
  • quarter defense
    A defensive alignment in which there are seven defensive backs.
  • receiver
    Any offensive player who catches a forward pass.
  • red zone
    The area between the defense's 20-yard line and the goal line.
  • referee
    [2-3-4-5-6-7] Also known as the "White hat", the referee is the official responsible for the quarterback and penalty enforcement, as well as game administration.
  • roll out
    The act of a quarterback running parallel to the line of scrimmage looking to pass.
  • roughing the kicker/holder
    First using the personal foul signal, the official will then extend his leg in a slow kicking motion forward and back.
  • roughing the passer
    An infraction that occurs when a defensive player hits the quarterback after the ball has been released. The official must decide whether the defensive player had time to stop after the ball’s release. It is a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down. The official using one hand/arm will make a forward motion from his shoulder toward the ground and slightly across his body.
  • running back
    An offensive player lined up in the backfield whose main job is to carry the football. These eligible receivers also block for each other and on pass plays.
  • running into kicker/holder
    The official will extend his leg in a slow kicking motion forward and back.
  • sack
    The action of a defender tackling the quarterback on an attempted pass play behind the line of scrimmage.
  • safety
    A safety occurs when the defending team is responsible for a ball becoming dead behind his own goal line. The official extends both arms above his head, both hands should be palm to palm, holding the signal for at least three seconds.
  • Safety
    Defensive players furthest from the ball and often positioned in the middle of the field. Safeties are the last line of defense but often line up closer to the linebackers to help protect against running plays.
  • scrambling
    The act of a quarterback running around in the backfield during a pass play trying not to get sacked with the football.
  • screen
    A short pass behind the line of scrimmage in which offensive linemen let defenders past in order to get out in front of the receiver.
  • secondary
    A synonym for defensive backs (cornerbacks, safeties). Also a term used to describe the general medium-to-deep area where defensive backs normally line up.
  • set
    To hold in place in the final pre-snap stance.
  • shift
    A shift is the action of one or more offensive players who, after taking their positions, move to a new set position before the snap.
  • shotgun
    An offensive formation in which the quarterback is lined up in the backfield 4 to 6 yards behind the center.
  • shovel pass
    A short forward pass usually to a receiver still in the offensive backfield or at the line of scrimmage.
  • side judge
    [6-7] A side judge is a sideline official positioned deep down the field, primary on passing and scrimmage kicks.
  • sideline interference
    The official will place both hands behind his back at his belt/waist, holding this position for at least two seconds. The official should be facing the press box sideline during this signal.
  • sideline warning
    Facing the press box, the official extends both arms directly out at shoulder height and then brings both arms in front of his body two times.
  • snap
    The quick exchange of the football from the center to the quarterback to put the ball into play.
  • special teams
    The term used to describe any football play that includes kicking - including kickoffs, punts and field goal tries.
  • start the clock
    The official extends his right arm toward the ground and then rotates it two times clockwise.
  • substitution infraction
    The official will cross his right hand and arm across his body so his right hand touches the front of his left shoulder. Hold this position for at least two seconds.
  • succeeding spot
    The succeeding spot is the spot where the play ends.
  • sweep
    Any offensive running play designed to take the ball-carrier outside the tackles.
  • tackle
    The act of stopping an opposing player carrying the football, specifically by forcing the ball-carrier to the ground where any part of of the body but the feet or hands touch the ground. The offensive lineman who is positioned to the outside of the guard or a defensive player who lined up across from an offensive tackle or guard.
  • Team A & B
    Team A is the team which put the ball in play. Team B is the opponent. Team designations remain the same throughout the entire down.
  • Team K & R
    Team K is the kicking team. Team R is the receiving team. Team designations remain the same throughout the entire down.
  • team possession
    Team possession is when one of the players on a team is in possession of the ball, or attempting to punt, drop kick or place kick. A forward pass is considered in possession of that team during flight. During a loose ball, team possession is determined by the last player to have possession of the ball.
  • T-formation
    An offensive formation in which the fullback is positioned 2 to 4 yards behind a quarterback, who is positioned immediately behind the center. One halfback is on either side of the fullback, and the fullback and the two halfbacks are in a line parallel to the line of scrimmage.
  • three-point stance
    The position a lineman takes prior to snap in which one hand is on the ground.
  • tight end
    The offensive player that lines up outside the tackle. A tight end often acts as an extra offensive lineman but is an eligible receiver as long as no teammate is lined up outside of him and on the line of scrimmage.
  • time out
    An event in which the clock is stopped at the request of a player or coach from either team. In general, each team is allowed three requests during each half of a game. The official raises both arms crossed above his head and then extends/waves both arms to the side three times.
  • touchback
    A situation in which the ball is kicked through the end zone or downed in the receiving team’s end zone. Play restarts on the receiving team’s 20-yard line. The official raises his right arm directly above his shoulder and brings it down to his side two times.
  • touchback
    A ball that becomes dead in the end zone following a punt or kickoff as well as an interception or fumble recovery by the defense in its own end zone. The ball is spotted on the 20-yard line.
  • touchdown
    A touchdown occurs when a team is in possession of the ball in its opponent's end zone.
  • touchdown, field goal, score after touchdown
    The official extends both arms straight above his shoulders, fingers extended, holding the signal for at least three seconds.
  • trap block
    A technique in which offensive linemen pull laterally from their original position on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage and block an unsuspecting defender elsewhere down the line or in the defensive backfield.
  • tripping
    The official will take one foot and touch it behind the ankle of his other foot.
  • turnover
    When, with either a fumble or an interception, one team loses possession of the football to the other team.
  • TV/radio timeout
    The official, in front of his chest, creates a "T" sign with both hands, holding it for at least three seconds.
  • two-point conversion
    A play following a touchdown in which the offense successfully runs or passes the ball into the end zone from the 3-yard line.
  • two-point stance
    The pre-snap position taken by an offensive player - including a quarterback in shotgun formation - in which neither hand is touching the ground.
  • umpire
    [2-3-4-5-6-7] The umpire is the official in the middle of the play, positioned on the defensive side of the ball. He controls the line play and the players.
  • uncatchable forward pass
    The official will extend one arm backward and forward over the front top of his hat/head.
  • unsportsmanlike conduct
    The official will extend both arms out to the side, parallel to the ground and hold this position for at least two seconds.
  • wide receiver
    Offensive players lined up on or near the line of scrimmage but separated from the offensive linemen. These eligible receivers also are called split ends if lined up on the line of scrimmage or flankers behind the line.
  • wishbone
    An offensive formation in which the quarterback is under center for a direct snap, a fullback is directly behind the quarterback, and two halfbacks are behind and to the sides of the fullback.
  • zone coverage
    A defensive pass coverage in which defenders are assigned specific areas of the field to prevent pass completions.

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