23. MECHANICS FOR 3-MAN CREWS
The fewer officials there are the more likely it is that some play
action or foul is going to go unobserved.
The key to 3-man officiating is to
what duties are of highest priority and be prepared to omit lower
priority ones when time is short.
23.1 – General
The officials must decide among themselves who is going to be
responsible for briefing stadium
clock operators, commentators, chain crew,
alternate crew and ball persons.
The officials should agree clock operation duties.
Normally the Line Judge will run the game clock and the Referee the
play clock and timeouts.
All officials must be prepared to adapt to play circumstances.
The crucial aim is to keep the play boxed in so that it can be observed
from more than one angle.
On measurements, the Line Judge must take the front stake and the Linesman
position the clip.
The Referee must ensure the ball is not moved, before moving to rule on
23.2 – Free kicks
The Line Judge should be on the press box sideline on Team A's restraining
The Linesman should be on the opposite sideline on Team B's restraining
These two have responsibility for their respective sideline, and for
marking forward progress on the return.
The Referee should be downfield in the
of the field covering the goal line.
23.3 – Scrimmage downs
This formation has the advantage that it incorporates the normal
positioning adopted by officials on a 4-man crew, except that it omits
one of those officials (usually the Umpire).
The Linesman and Line Judge begin in their normal positions.
They are jointly responsible for the line of scrimmage.
They are responsible for their sideline on both running and pass
and must move to either goal line if that is threatened.
plays they may go downfield to observe receivers and whether
the pass is complete or not on their side of the field.
The Referee begins in his normal position, except that he may choose to
begin in the Umpire's normal position if it is necessary to observe
interior line play from the defensive side of the neutral zone.
On running plays he should observe blocking from the inside out.
plays he is entirely responsible for action in the vicinity
of the passer.
After the ball is thrown he is responsible for the protection of the
passer and must not turn to observe the pass (even if in the Umpire
23.4 – Goal line plays
On goal line plays, the Linesman and the Line Judge
should be in position to move to the goal line at the sideline,
officiating the play from the outside in.
The Referee should observe the play from the inside out.
23.5 – Punts
The Linesman begins in his normal position and performs his normal
The Line Judge must drop deep downfield to the position normally adopted
on a punt play on a 4-man crew.
He must be prepared to rule on the end of the kick and the ensuing
The Referee should
the press box side of the field and observe action against the snapper
and then the kicker.
23.6 – Field goal & try attempts
One official, normally the Line Judge, should be behind the goal and is
entirely responsible for ruling on the success or failure of the field
The Referee must
the press box side of the field and be responsible for that sideline
should a run or pass develop.
He should observe action against the kicker and holder.
The Linesman is responsible for action against the snapper and may
after the ball is snapped to better observe this.
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Editor: Jim Briggs, Editor, IAFOA Manual of Football Officiating
Generated: 10/2/2019, 1627