Penalty Enforcement

PENALTY ENFORCEMENT
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General Penalty Mechanics Video

The SDCFOA takes great pride in accurate and efficient penalty enforcement. However, only through study, discussion, and practice can we demonstrate our best penalty enforcement.

Officials must study and master their responsibilities when it comes to penalty enforcement.  It is the responsibility of the CREW assigned to each game to ensure that all penalties are enforced timely and correctly.  This is an ongoing process that requires a thorough discussion, led by the assigned crew chief, to iron out any particular preferences and establish clear expectations for the crew.  This is an ongoing process for crews that work together throughout the year, starting with their pre-season meeting(s) and continuing each week.  Regardless of the level, all officials are responsible to their crew to communicate correctly and get it right.

The following is a collection of necessary penalty enforcement actions:

1. Throw flag to the spot of the foul for fouls that will be enforced from that spot.

2. Throw flag high into the air for all other fouls.

3. Continue to officiate if live ball foul.

4. Kill clock immediately, using a staccato whistle, if dead ball foul.

5. Kill clock after the play, using a staccato whistle, if a live ball foul.

6. The staccato whistle alerts all other officials that we have a penalty.

7. Check the status of the clock to confirm it has indeed stopped.

8. If the foul is a line of scrimmage/administrative foul or DPI or OPI foul:

a. Hustle toward the REFEREE and give the preliminary signal.

b. Verbally report the number of the offending player (use of radio to report the number of the player is permitted)

c. Flank officials will assist their coaches with information and penalty options to assist the referee in obtaining the coach’s choice of penalty options (as necessary)

d. Referee reports foul, yardage of penalty, and the direction the umpire is to go, to the umpire.

e. The UMPIRE goes to the previous spot and makes visual contact with HEAD LINESMAN and marches penalty off with the HEAD LINESMANLINE JUDGE holds the enforcement spot until LINE JUDGE and UMPIRE visually confirm correct administration.

f. The REFEREE gives penalty signal and correct down signal to the press box.

g. All crew members (especially the BACK JUDGE/LINE JUDGE) provide the appropriate signal to the referee to either hack the ball ready (if the 25-second play clock is required by rule) for play or wind the clock.

h. Flank officials provide penalty information to their respective coaches.

i. The REFEREE moves to his new pre-snap position spot and checks the readiness of the crew and teams before giving any required signals (ready for play, winding the clock with whistle or silent)

9. If the foul is any other foul:

a. Adjust your flag if it is a spot foul.

b. Communicate your foul to other officials if there is more information available or to confirm you have the same or different fouls.

c. Hustle to the referee and report:

1. Type of play;

2. Status of the ball when the foul occurred;

3. Foul;

4. Offending team;

5. Number; and

6. The spot of the foul.

d. The REFEREE will ask clarifying questions if needed then immediately give the preliminary signal to the press box.

e. Flank officials will assist their coaches with information and penalty options to assist the referee in obtaining the coach’s choice of penalty options (as necessary)

f. The umpire will listen to the report by the flank official.

g. REFEREE reports foul, yardage of penalty, enforcement spot, and the direction the umpire is to go, to the umpire.

h. The UMPIRE goes to the correct enforcement spot and makes visual contact with HEAD LINESMAN and marches penalty off with the HEAD LINESMANLINE JUDGE holds the enforcement spot until LINE JUDGE and umpire visually confirm correct administration.

i. All crew members (especially the BJ) provide the appropriate signal to the referee to either hack the ball ready for play or wind the clock.

j. Flank officials provide penalty information to their respective coaches.

k. The REFEREE moves to his new pre-snap spot and checks crew and teams before giving the ready-to-play or winding the clock signal and whistle.

In the end, statistics prove that, on average, there are one to three times per game where the enforcement of penalties interrupts the game tempo.  Usually, it is due to multiple penalty flags being thrown and multiple officials gathering to report information to the referee.  Other times it is to correct, or second guess, completed enforcement. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to these infrequent stumbles, but a great crew learns from each situation and never repeats the same problem.