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1)      Take your officiating roles seriously.  The players work hard in preparing for games, officials must also.

2)      Officials should aim to assist teams to avoid penalties. Cautions and teaching points are appropriate at most times.

3)      Prior to a snap, officials can require and warn players to adjust their flags to their proper alignment. Repeated warnings of this nature can result in an Unsportsmanlike penalty.

4)      Officials can perform random checks of flags to test for tampering.

5)      Officials are there to administer the rules of this league not the NFL, NCAA, etc.

6)      Officials must highly endeavor to announce down and distance before any snap.  While it always the team captain’s responsibility to be game aware, the officiating crew should always endeavor to keep captains informed.

7)      No penalty or penalty flag stops a live play.

8)      When an official throws a penalty flag it should be left on the ground until the ball becomes dead and penalty enforcement is complete.  It is permissible for the covering official to pick up and move the flag to a more accurate spot, if needed. 

9)  It is not the mission of the game officials to flag every small, nuanced infraction of traditional football unless it produces a significant or unfair advantage.  

10)  Officials are encouraged to use the “preventive style” of officiating which allows officials to talk to, remind and help players avoid violations whenever feasible.

11) Our officials are instructed to be good listeners and acknowledge complaints and concerns of players and coaches. 

12)  When throwing the ball to another official use short under-handed tosses. 

13) Officials do not have to call everything they see but they must see everything they call.

14) Officials must not tolerate taunting, baiting, and unsportsmanlike acts.  They often lead to more problems during the game.

Head Official

1)      Before the game, the head official will address the officiating crew and set expectations for the crew.  She will address safety, areas of responsibility, keys at the snap, defenseless players, whistle discipline, spotting the ball, supplemental signals, clock mechanics, sideline management, and any other items she sees fit.

2)      It is the head official’s responsibility to certify that the field of play is safe, clear of hazards, and marked correctly.

3)      The head official has authority to rule promptly, and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, on any situation not specifically covered in the rules. 

4)      The head official’s decisions are final in all matters pertaining to the game.

Official’s Uniform

1)      All officials are to dress alike and look professional. 

2)      Do not perform your duties in unsanctioned clothes (logoed hats, sweat pants, colorful shoes, do-rag, ponchos, etc.)  Look and act the part!   

3)      All officials must come equipped with a black-and-white striped shirt, black cap with white piping, Fox-40 type whistle, two yellow penalty flags, down-counter, timing device, ball marker, bean bag, note pad with writing device, and coin. 

4)      Shirts will be worn tucked in.

5)      Only black under-garments will be worn.

6)      Black officiating shorts may be worn in lieu of long black pants with white stripe.  The shorts must be worn with a black belt.  No draw string or elastic-type waistbands are allowed.

7)      Black shoes and socks will be worn.

8)    A black cap with white pipping will be worn by all officials except the head official.

9)  The head referee will wear a white hat.

10)  During tournament play:  All officials will wear two-inch varsity football jerseys with collars and dress in accordance with the National Federation of State High School Associations rules.

Marking the Spot

1)   Often during league play the fields have very few fixed markings and there are no video replay capabilities.  Therefore, on extremely close calls the officials will generally give the benefit of the doubt to the offense (first downs, scores, sacks, etc.).

2)   The ball will be spotted wherever the ball was at the time of a flag pull or the ball left the field-of-play.

3)   A ball spotter or ball marker shall be used to mark the line-of-scrimmage.  We recommend a non-trip hazard object like a soft, pliable indoor hockey puck or similar item.  The marker will be placed on the line-of-scrimmage as near as possible to the spot of the next snap.

4)   The ball spotter is a courtesy used by the officiating crew to assist teams.  While the clock is running during the final two minutes of the second half the use of a ball spotting device will stop and becomes irrelevant.  In this situation the line judge will take her position and announce, “I am the line, line up on me”. 

5)   After a safety, the kicking team (the team giving up the safety) must kick from its own 20-yard line.  

Neutral Zone Awareness

Officials, when feasible, will endeavor to, but are not required to, give teams a courtesy neutral zone notification to allow their players to readjust before the snap.


Penalty Enforcement

1)      Penalties are assessed for live balls before dead balls.

2)      Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal.

3)      An official shall have the authority to rectify an error and correct a down until the series has ended.

4)      Games may not end on a defensive penalty unless it is declined by the offense.

5)      Penalties associated with automatic first downs: An offended team may accept the 
automatic first down portion of a penalty but decline the yardage portion of the penalty enforcement or they may accept both the yardage and the automatic first down.  


All-But-One Principle

1)      All fouls committed by the offense are penalized from the basic spot unless the foul is
      committed behind the line-of-scrimmage, then it is assessed from the spot of the foul.

2)    Any foul committed by the offense in its end zone is a safety.

3)    Any time the original “force” of the offense causes the ball to become dead behind the
      goal line it will result in a safety.

Establishing Zone-Line-to-Gain

1)      For live ball fouls, the penalty yardage will be marked off first, then the next line-to-gain (first-down marker) will be established.

2)      To determine if a first down was achieved, the official will mark off any un-administered live-ball penalty yards before making the determination. 

3)      If a penalty awards an automatic first down (e.g., roughing the passer) and the original line-to-gain was not achieved after the yardage was resolved, the original line-to-gain will remain in effect.

Pace of Play

1)      Officials are taught to hustle, not hurry.  They must control the game and not let an anxious team set the pace. 

2)      If a snap occurs before the officials are ready, ready-to-play whistle or announcement, the ball will be blown dead and the quarterback issued a warning for the first offense.  For the second offense a delay of game penalty will be incurred.

Official’s Options for Excessive Contact between Players 


While this is a contact league, officials have six options for excessive contact:

1)      Make no call if they think the contact was accidental

2)      Issue cautions or warnings to the team captain in lieu of assessing penalties

3)      Penalize the defense if they feel the defender is the aggressor

4)      Penalize the offense if they feel the offensive player is the aggressor

5)      Call off-setting penalties which means the officials could not determine who was the aggressor

6)      Eject a player if the official feels the contact was intentional or egregious.  Note: Normally the player who “drops her shoulder” first is deemed the aggressor.


1)      Protecting the passer is one of the head official’s main jobs.  If there is any question whether the action on the passer is a foul, lean to the side of protection and call roughing.  

2)      To assist defensive players to avoid unnecessary contact with the passer the covering official should endeavor to announce “balls away” when the ball has left the passer’s hand.

Contact Above the Shoulders

Safe play is our upmost concern.  Officials will penalize any noteworthy contact above the shoulders (head, neck, or face) between players, even if accidental.

Cool Down Period

Before or in lieu of disqualification or ejection an official may offer a player a “cool down” period of her choosing. Players should think of this “cool down” as a warning before being ejected and be thankful for it.  This period will consist of five plays or five minutes, whichever occurs first.

Disqualifications and Ejections

1)      If a player is disqualified rather than ejected she may be allowed to remain at the facility at the head official’s discretion.

2)      If a player or spectator is ejected that person must leave the facility immediately.  If she fails to comply within a reasonable time and manner the head official may decide to forfeit the game.  Note: The WFFN and the W.I.T.C. rent the facilities so they are not considered public spaces during games and the head official may require anyone to leave. 

3)      Ejections or disqualifications may occur for:

a.       A second unsportsmanlike or personal foul on a single player

b.      Any act deemed egregious by the head official

c.       Disrespectfully addressing or intentionally touching a game official

d.      Four unsportsmanlike and /or personal fouls by one team (forfeiture)

e.       Fighting


1)      Any player who comes off the sideline during a fight will be ejected, will sit out the next game and will pay a reinstatement fee as per the league director’s decision.

2)      If either team leaves the bench during a fight the game will be forfeited immediately.

Bench Fouls

Teams may incur bench fouls for a variety of reasons to include but not limited to:

1)      Players on the sidelines or spectators interfering with play or an official

2)      Disrespect toward officials or other players or non-players

3)      Players or non-players in the designated restricted zone during a live play

4)      Non-players on the field of play

5)      Teams not remaining in the designated team box

Challenge Procedure

1)      Only the team captain or head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations.

2)      Generally, officials are happy to answer quick response and general questions during the game if they do not impede the game.  The priority is to spot the ball then address questions without impeding the play clock.

3)      If a captain or head coach believes an official has made a procedural error she may call for a timeout.  If the head official agrees that there has been a procedural error (e.g., wrong down, incorrect penalty yardage, etc.) the procedural error will be addressed and the timeout will not be charged. 

4)      In the event the captain or head coach loses a procedural challenge and her team did not possess a legal team timeout a five-yard penalty will be assessed.

5)      Only procedural issues may be addressed, not an official’s judgment call or no-call.

Shared Responsibility of Officials

All officials will respect the calls of other officials.  However, it is purely acceptable for an official to “come over the top” of another official if the official had a better angle or saw something the other official did not.  It is the head official’s responsibility to equitably solve judgment conflicts between officials in accordance with the rules