1. If you are in doubt whether the line to gain has been reached at the end of a play from scrimmage, blow your whistle, signal timeout [S3] and notify the Referee.
  2. [REFEREE] It is your decision as to whether a measurement is necessary or not. Do not be influenced by requests from either team, but take into account the field and field marking conditions. A measurement is more likely when the ball becomes dead some distance from a hash mark because it is more difficult to accurately judge the relationship of the ball to the line to gain.
  3. Because of the importance of the situation after a 4th down play, a measurement should be arranged unless there is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind as to whether or not the line to gain has been reached. After a 3rd down play, it may be almost as important.
  4. A measurement may change the tempo of the game. Avoid measurements when the clock is running during the last 2 minutes of a half unless you are genuinely unsure of whether a first down has been gained.
  5. For a measurement, the Coverer must place the ball at the precise dead-ball spot - not a spot level with that. The ball must never be moved from the dead-ball spot until after the measurement is made, in particular the ball must not be moved if it becomes dead in a side zone. If it becomes dead out of bounds it shall be placed in the correct spot on the sideline.
  6. [IN xx0 FORMATION (4-MAN CREW)] [REFEREE] or [IN xx1/xx3 FORMATION (5/6C/7/8-MAN CREW)] [BACK JUDGE] or [IN xx2 FORMATION (6D-MAN CREW)] [FIELD JUDGE] Ensure that the ball is at the correct dead-ball spot, and hold it there if necessary. Mark the nose of the ball with a bean bag only if there is a serious risk of it being moved.
  7. [IN xx0/xx1/xx2 FORMATION (4/5/6D-MAN CREW)] [REFEREE] [IN 3x1 FORMATION (6C-MAN CREW)] [CENTRE JUDGE] or [IN xx3 FORMATION (7/8-MAN CREW)] [FIELD JUDGE] Ensure that the press box has a clear view of the measurement.
  8. [LINE JUDGE] Move quickly to a position on the appropriate yard line to indicate where the Linesman should place the clip in order to make an accurate measurement (i.e. in a precise north-south line with the ball).
  9. [IN xx0/xx1/xx2 FORMATION (4/5/6D-MAN CREW)] [LINE JUDGE] or [IN 2x3 FORMATION (7-MAN CREW)] [FIELD JUDGE] [IN 3xx FORMATION (6C/8-MAN CREW)] [CENTRE JUDGE] If the measurement is in a side zone, obtain a new ball from a ball person and hold it ready for use.
  10. [SIDE JUDGE] Remain with the down box on the sideline at the front stake and adjust its position once the outcome of the measurement is known.
  11. [LINESMAN] Unless there is a flag on the play, instruct the down box operator to place the down box exactly at the position of the front stake. The down number should not be changed. Grasp the chain at the point where the clip is set and direct the stake operators to bring the chain to the required position on the field. Place the chain so that its position corresponds exactly to that which it occupied on the sideline, and then call "ready". [LINE JUDGE] There is no need to put your foot on the chain.
  12. [UMPIRE] Take the front stake from the operator and, when the Linesman calls "ready", gently pull the chain taut.
  13. [REFEREE] Determine whether the line to gain has been reached and announce your ruling. Remember that a first down is made if any part of the ball is level with or beyond any part of the front stake.
  14. [REFEREE] If the ball is short of the first down and outside the hash marks, grasp the chain at the forward point of the ball and position a new ball at the hash mark, using the chain as a guide to placement.
  15. [UMPIRE] Once the measurement is completed, return the front stake to the stake operator.
  16. [LINESMAN]
    1. If a first down has been achieved, instruct the chain crew to set up for a new first down. There is no need to return the clip to its previous position.
    2. If a first down has not been achieved, return the clip to its correct position on the chain clip reference mark and ensure that the chain crew returns the chain to its previous position.
  17. [REFEREE] Signal the ball ready for play when the Linesman ensures that the chain is reset in the correct location.

Next chapter (callfoul)

Back to index

Editor: Jim Briggs, Editor, IAFOA Manual of Football Officiating

Generated: 10/2/2019, 1627