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Coaches Corner
Safety Sideline Management - 07/09/2021

• The NFHS Football Rules Committee acknowledges that coaches and players alike are abusing the Coaches and Team Box restraining lines. They are also reviewing sideline control and game management issues as well. Anecdotal evidence from the nation’s playing fields suggests that sideline control has worsened over the past several years. Not only are coaches violating the rules, but officials are not enforcing the rules. Congestion by non-players on the sidelines is also a problem as the media, boosters and others crowd, not only the sideline, but the playing field as well.

• More and more coaches and non-players are encroaching on the playing field during play. Reports indicated that more confrontations between coaches and officials are occurring, as well as team member’s obstruction official’s space on the sideline. Certainly, this is a safety concern and a logistical problem for officials who must have free access to the sidelines to do an effective job.

• Rule 1-2-3 specifies the limits and parameters of the team and coaching box areas. Rule 9-8-3 clearly specifies that only three coaches are allowed in the coaching box, which is the two-yard belt between the 25-yard lines. Rule 2-6-2 outlines the process and dimensions for authorized conferences. Any violations of these rules must be enforced and officials must understand that they cannot continue to avoid these concerns.

• Consequences and penalties for box and sideline violations are prescribed in the penalty section of Rule 9-8. There is a progressive component to the penalties for these violations, but they must be consistently enforced to be effective. It seems that all too often, some officials look the other way and disregard these violations and that simply exacerbates the problem. Surely, officials want to be preventative and communicate with the coaches before the game and early in the contest, but sometimes flags must be thrown to stop and control the problem.

• Another related problem, as noted above, is the growing number of media, photographers, statisticians, and school boosters that are populating the sidelines. Refer to Rule 1-2-3d. This is a Game Management problem that game administrators should address, but one that officials must bring to their attention more often. Game administrators and school officials must place a 4-inch wide restraining line around the outside of the playing area that would aid the officials and assist in reducing the problem. Additionally, clearly marked and properly maintained lines are mandatory for the team box and coaches’ area along the sidelines.

• Coaches and players must recognize and be aware of team and coaching box rules that are in effect during the contest. The burden is on the head coach to remind coaches and players of these rules. Authorized conferences must be conducted properly and within the limits of the rule. Officials must be more vigilant and enforce the rules applicable to sideline maintenance and control. Game management must do its part to clearly mark and maintain the field throughout the season. These efforts will minimize risk, will lead to more effective officiating, and can prevent unfortunate incidents.

The Field and Markings
• Please refer to page 16, rule 1-2-1 in the NFHS Rule Book
• Re: NFHS Rule requires attention by all schools pertaining to their football fields.
• Rule 1-2-3d: A 4-inch wide broken restraining line shall be placed around the outside of the field, at least 2 yards from the sidelines and end lines, as an extension of the line limiting the team box area, except in stadiums where the total playing enclosure does not permit.
NOTE: Game administration may place 4-inch wide and 12-inch long bisecting marks along the restraining line at each 5-yard line between the goal lines.

• Rule 1-2-3k: A line, 4-inches wide and a minimum of 24 inches in length, shall be centered in the field of play, three yards from each goal line.
1. Proper field markings (include limit lines and 9-yard marks)
2. Respect all who are involved with the game.
•The playing field must be safe for players, coaches and game officials. Holes must be filled and the field must be properly marked. Other areas surrounding the playing field i.e. track pole vault pits, shot put rings and other areas must be securely covered with thick padding to protect the players, coaches and game officials.
3. For any reason the game officials deem the playing field is unsafe for players, coaches and the game officials for any of the reasons above or for other reasons not previously mentioned, they have authority to delay or stop the game until such action can be taken by the home team game administration to correct the problem.

Questions about any of the above Topics should be address to:
Spencer Crum
President and
High School Football Officials Assignor
David Brown
Youth Football Officials Assignor
Randy Merian
Membership Chairman
Charlie Hayes
Instructional Chairman
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Last modified: August 1, 2021