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Football Officiating Tools

Those things beyond the uniform, flag, and whistle used by football officials.

    1. Watch / Timer

    At least one official maintains a backup of the scoreboard game clock.

    2. Play Clock / Time Out Timer

    Several types available. Worn on the belt, has a toggle switch for 40 second and 25 second play clock options, with a reset. Vibrations at 10 seconds and 5 seconds before the time expires. Also used for timing time outs - 1 minute in high school football.

    3. Down Indicator

    Usually worn on the wrist, ranging from a rubber band to a fancy wrist strap or built into a sweat band. For keeping track of downs.

    4. Ball position indicator

    For the umpire, to return the ball to its original lateral position between the hash marks when there's an incomplete pass, or if necessary, there is a declined penalty.

    5. Game card

    Tracking score, timeouts used, coin toss winner, any ejected players or coaches, fouls called. Lots of options - to purchase, or design your own. I have my own.

    6. "O to O"

    Walkie talkies for communicating during the game. Not as sophisticated as the NFL, but helps save time in relaying information to coaches and one another.

    7. Tape

    To put in the middle of the chains at 5 yards. If the ball is over the tape, a 5 yard penalty on the defense gives a first down to the offense, without having to do a measurement. If the ball is behind the tape, then it is next down and inches for a first.

    8. Clip

    To put on the back of the yard line (5,10, etc.). First, to correctly replace the chains if the chain gang has to drop them to get out of the way of a play coming in their direction. Second, if a measurement is needed the chains can be properly placed on the field before the measurement.

    9. Beanbags

    Used to mark the end of a scrimmage kick (punt), the spot of a fumble beyond the line of scrimmage, to mark the first touching of a kick (by the kickers), the end of a run out of bounds if you need to go in to break up a tussle, and to mark possession of a pass or kick for the momentum exception rule. Deep officials carry two different color bags, one for the end of a scrimmage kick, one for other instances.

    10. Extras

    Depending on the official, they may have on them... coin (in case the referee forgets), flag(s) if you need more than one on a play (I did, once), zip ties or wires to fix broken chains for the first down indicators, ball position indicator (I carry one if I need to move into the umpire position during a game - happened twice)

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