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Is This Officiating Crew Any Good?


Bobref
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So, you go to your local school’s game Friday night. You see the officiating crew, but it’s unlikely you know anything about them. Are they good? Mid-pack? Novices thrown together for the occasion due to the shortage of officials? Here are some things to look for that observers see a lot, unfortunately. There are lots of little nuances that someone trained in officiating can spot, but you’re not going to appreciate. But here are 10 things you can notice from the sidelines, the stands, or perhaps even on TV or streaming, that will tell you whether this is a good crew that pays attention to detail or not. They are, in no particular order of priority or frequency:

1. Do the wing officials “square off” their forward progress spots? Proper technique, other than in goal line situations, is to trail the play up the sideline to the forward progress spot, and then move in perpendicular to the sideline. If that wing official’s route to the spot looks like a banana, that’s a sign of lack of attention to detail that doesn’t bode well for other calls.

2. Does the crew make timeouts look like a local officials’ association meeting? Everyone on the crew has a specific job to do during a dead ball interval. That is not the right time for the crew to all get together and chew the fat.

3. Is the sideline clean? IHSAA officials are under a very clear mandate to properly manage the sidelines. This means no coaches on the field itself at any time, except during charged or injury timeouts, and no one in the 6 ft. “restricted area” when the ball is alive. All coaches are fully aware of this. If the crew is lax in its enforcement of this directive, it’ll likely be lax in other areas as well.

4. Is the goal line covered? Goal line officiating is probably the greatest challenge for a 5-person crew. There is a complex set of mechanics associated with goal line officiating, but they all boil down to one thing: having someone on the goal line in a position to rule on a TD. It’s not easy, and it’s not always possible. But if a kid scores on an off tackle run from the 4 yd. line, and the wing official signaling the TD is at the 2, that’s a real problem.

5. Watch the two officials under the crossbar on a scoring kick (try or field goal). Are they talking to one another before the snap (they are supposed to be identifying eligible receivers and communicating that to one another)? Do they have to look at one another before signaling the kick? They shouldn’t. If the kick threatens an upright, and is above the top of the goalposts, does only the official on that side signal the kick? When both officials signal, do they do it in unison? Attention to details like these spills over into other areas of officiating.

6. Proper use of the beanbag is another such detail. Does the back judge use a beanbag to mark the spot where every punt ends, even if there’s a fair catch, or the ball is downed by the kickers? When the ball is fumbled, do the officials mark the spot of the fumble with a beanbag? Do they refrain from using the bag for marking the spot of a fumble behind the LOS? If a kick was “first touched,” did they mark that spot?

7. What happens during penalty enforcements? All 5 crew members have specific duties during the administration of penalties. Are all the officials moving with purpose? Or is administration left to the Referee and Umpire, while the other 3 crew members just sort of wander around?

8. Does the crew hustle? I see a lot of walking around some Friday nights. That sort of body language can be interpreted as lack of engagement, which can be fatal to your credibility. Good officials avoid it like the plague.

9. How many whistles blow at the end of the play? On most plays, two are plenty. One is better. Too many whistles means too many officials watching the ball … and not paying attention to other responsibilities.

10. How does the crew handle the ball? Proficient crews use well-established ball handling procedures designed to get the ball back in play as efficiently as possible. It’s done with a minimum of delay, and the ball doesn’t spend any time on the ground.

Realistically, you cannot evaluate the crew’s performance in many areas without formal training and a better vantage point. But these 10 things to watch for will give you a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with as a crew.

Edited by Bobref
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1 hour ago, Bobref said:

So, you go to your local school’s game Friday night. You see the officiating crew, but it’s unlikely you know anything about them. Are they good? Mid-pack? Novices thrown together for the occasion due to the shortage of officials? Here are some things to look for that observers see a lot, unfortunately. There are lots of little nuances that someone trained in officiating can spot, but you’re not going to appreciate. But here are 10 things you can notice from the sidelines, the stands, or perhaps even on TV or streaming, that will tell you whether this is a good crew that pays attention to detail or not. They are, in no particular order of priority or frequency:

1. Do the wing officials “square off” their forward progress spots? Proper technique, other than in goal line situations, is to trail the play up the sideline to the forward progress spot, and then move in perpendicular to the sideline. If that wing official’s route to the spot looks like a banana, that’s a sign of lack of attention to detail that doesn’t bode well for other calls.

2. Does the crew make timeouts look like a local officials’ association meeting? Everyone on the crew has a specific job to do during a dead ball interval. That is not the right time for the crew to all get together and chew the fat.

3. Is the sideline clean? IHSAA officials are under a very clear mandate to properly manage the sidelines. This means no coaches on the field itself at any time, except during charged or injury timeouts, and no one in the 6 ft. “restricted area” when the ball is alive. All coaches are fully aware of this. If the crew is lax in its enforcement of this directive, it’ll likely be lax in other areas as well.

4. Is the goal line covered? Goal line officiating is probably the greatest challenge for a 5-person crew. There is a complex set of mechanics associated with goal line officiating, but they all boil down to one thing: having someone on the goal line in a position to rule on a TD. It’s not easy, and it’s not always possible. But if a kid scores on an off tackle run from the 4 yd. line, and the wing official signaling the TD is at the 2, that’s a real problem.

5. Watch the two officials under the crossbar on a scoring kick (try or field goal). Are they talking to one another before the snap (they are supposed to be identifying eligible receivers and communicating that to one another)? Do they have to look at one another before signaling the kick? They shouldn’t. If the kick threatens an upright, and is above the top of the goalposts, does only the official on that side signal the kick? When both officials signal, do they do it in unison? Attention to details like these spills over into other areas of officiating.

6. Proper use of the beanbag is another such detail. Does the back judge use a beanbag to mark the spot where every punt ends, even if there’s a fair catch, or the ball is downed by the kickers? When the ball is fumbled, do the officials mark the spot of the fumble with a beanbag? Do they refrain from using the bag for marking the spot of a fumble behind the LOS? If a kick was “first touched,” did they mark that spot?

7. What happens during penalty enforcements? All 5 crew members have specific duties during the administration of penalties. Are all the officials moving with purpose? Or is administration left to the Referee and Umpire, while the other 3 crew members just sort of wander around?

8. Does the crew hustle? I see a lot of walking around some Friday nights. That sort of body language can be interpreted as lack of engagement, which can be fatal to your credibility. Good officials avoid it like the plague.

9. How many whistles blow at the end of the play? On most plays, two are plenty. One is better. Too many whistles means too many officials watching the ball … and not paying attention to other responsibilities.

10. How does the crew handle the ball? Proficient crews use well-established ball handling procedures designed to get the ball back in play as efficiently as possible. It’s done with a minimum of delay, and the ball doesn’t spend any time on the ground.

Realistically, you cannot evaluate the crew’s performance in many areas without formal training and a better vantage point. But these 10 things to watch for will give you a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with as a crew.

I watch crews for many of these things every game.    I’m almost 40 now, but officiated from when I got out of the Marine Corps (age 24) until I got a job that prevented it on Fridays (age 30).  I still miss it and keep telling myself when my youngest (10) is out of high school I’m getting back in to it.   

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On 9/22/2022 at 7:18 AM, Bobref said:

So, you go to your local school’s game Friday night. You see the officiating crew, but it’s unlikely you know anything about them. Are they good? Mid-pack? Novices thrown together for the occasion due to the shortage of officials? Here are some things to look for that observers see a lot, unfortunately. There are lots of little nuances that someone trained in officiating can spot, but you’re not going to appreciate. But here are 10 things you can notice from the sidelines, the stands, or perhaps even on TV or streaming, that will tell you whether this is a good crew that pays attention to detail or not. They are, in no particular order of priority or frequency:

1. Do the wing officials “square off” their forward progress spots? Proper technique, other than in goal line situations, is to trail the play up the sideline to the forward progress spot, and then move in perpendicular to the sideline. If that wing official’s route to the spot looks like a banana, that’s a sign of lack of attention to detail that doesn’t bode well for other calls.

2. Does the crew make timeouts look like a local officials’ association meeting? Everyone on the crew has a specific job to do during a dead ball interval. That is not the right time for the crew to all get together and chew the fat.

3. Is the sideline clean? IHSAA officials are under a very clear mandate to properly manage the sidelines. This means no coaches on the field itself at any time, except during charged or injury timeouts, and no one in the 6 ft. “restricted area” when the ball is alive. All coaches are fully aware of this. If the crew is lax in its enforcement of this directive, it’ll likely be lax in other areas as well.

4. Is the goal line covered? Goal line officiating is probably the greatest challenge for a 5-person crew. There is a complex set of mechanics associated with goal line officiating, but they all boil down to one thing: having someone on the goal line in a position to rule on a TD. It’s not easy, and it’s not always possible. But if a kid scores on an off tackle run from the 4 yd. line, and the wing official signaling the TD is at the 2, that’s a real problem.

5. Watch the two officials under the crossbar on a scoring kick (try or field goal). Are they talking to one another before the snap (they are supposed to be identifying eligible receivers and communicating that to one another)? Do they have to look at one another before signaling the kick? They shouldn’t. If the kick threatens an upright, and is above the top of the goalposts, does only the official on that side signal the kick? When both officials signal, do they do it in unison? Attention to details like these spills over into other areas of officiating.

6. Proper use of the beanbag is another such detail. Does the back judge use a beanbag to mark the spot where every punt ends, even if there’s a fair catch, or the ball is downed by the kickers? When the ball is fumbled, do the officials mark the spot of the fumble with a beanbag? Do they refrain from using the bag for marking the spot of a fumble behind the LOS? If a kick was “first touched,” did they mark that spot?

7. What happens during penalty enforcements? All 5 crew members have specific duties during the administration of penalties. Are all the officials moving with purpose? Or is administration left to the Referee and Umpire, while the other 3 crew members just sort of wander around?

8. Does the crew hustle? I see a lot of walking around some Friday nights. That sort of body language can be interpreted as lack of engagement, which can be fatal to your credibility. Good officials avoid it like the plague.

9. How many whistles blow at the end of the play? On most plays, two are plenty. One is better. Too many whistles means too many officials watching the ball … and not paying attention to other responsibilities.

10. How does the crew handle the ball? Proficient crews use well-established ball handling procedures designed to get the ball back in play as efficiently as possible. It’s done with a minimum of delay, and the ball doesn’t spend any time on the ground.

Realistically, you cannot evaluate the crew’s performance in many areas without formal training and a better vantage point. But these 10 things to watch for will give you a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with as a crew.

Thanks for all of that.
As a chain ganger I now know better how to judge a crew and how they do things.

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