are the most important, concrete, method of self evaluation. They also demonstrate our poise, professionalism, and commitment
to the game. Both the Federation
and the NCAA have manuals which outline the best ways to ensure that we are in
proper position to make the correct calls a majority of the time and to sell our
judgment as sound. While there may
be some minor deviations the manuals MUST be adhered to if we are to adequately
enforce the rules of engagement.
probably noticed by now that my approach to the game is much like a spiders web.
I have ten points which appear separate and yet all weave together and
intertwine. Many of my individual preferences overlap into several of my points.
I break mechanics into unnamed categories.
The first is working on my mechanics as outlined in the manuals.
I look to the mechanics from a perspective of what will put me in the
best position to rule and create a comfort zone which creates the illusion of
concern is to have a good field of vision. I want to have an unobstructed view
of any action which may fall into my zone.
As a wing official I believe the sideline is the best place to
start...note, I said start. This
allows me to see all the action on the field without worrying about players
getting behind me. It also ensures
that the play is coming at me and I donít have to be preoccupied with backing
up and wondering if I can run backwards and remain on my feet!
Now if the ball is placed on the far hash I may come in to the numbers
but I never want to be closer than 10 yards to any player...obviously this is
not the case in NCAA as we have clear guidelines about starting on the
As a ref
I want to set up so that I can see tackle to tackle and be on the QBís
throwing arm side. I donít like
to get outside the tackles because if the action rolls away from me I am already
out of the play and unable to properly see the action as it develops.
field of vision is important I also want to move fluidly and with purpose. While
I start on the sidelines I want to close briskly to the end of the action AFTER
the action is over. Donít be to
quick to get in there as you may get caught up in fumble, an extraordinary
athletic move which keeps the runner on his feet, or miss dead ball fouls. I trail the play parallel to the sideline and then cut a 90
degree angle and move directly to the dead ball spot. I prefer this tactic because it keeps my field of vision
wide, enabling me to see more than if I am angling or sauntering.
I mentioned in earlier postings that being lackadaisical is like telling
everyone I donít care. Close with your head up and on a swivel. You have the
spot in your mind, donít focus so much on that small area that I also never
run by players to get to a spot, this is when we miss dead ball action away from
noted over the years that some officials seem to be overly close to the play.
They think that close means good mechanics and hustle.
I tend to subscribe to the philosophy that I want to be close enough to
rule but not so close that I am in the play itself.
Trail and rule. I like to be
about 5-8 yards behind the runner from the flank position.
This implies that I also have read the play situation properly...pass
versus run. We all have been taught
to read the tackles....if they fire out and downfield I think run; if they
retreat then I read pass. I also
factor in the situation; down, distance, time, and team tendencies. When I misread I adjust accordingly. If I read pass and they run, I slow down and let the play to
come to me. If I read run and they
pass I move my butt to get into the best position.
lines...inside the 7 I begin thinking about the goal line and I move to protect
it. I like to be on the goal about
2-3 yards outside the pylon as I feel this gives me the most advantageous
position to rule without being caught up in the players.
Again, we should be on the goal waiting for the play not trailing in this
situation. I want to be able to see
the relationship between the ball and the goal...it is the most important line
ball...an area in which many of us are remiss.
I toss the ball underhand when relaying and I don't worry about the new
ball until I am confident that all action has ceased. I also use this time to
check my sidelines. I want to make certain that I have the proper room in which
to work and that it is clear of everyone except those who are LEGALLY entitled
to be there. I talk to coaches and
then I administer warnings. My
personal feeling is that officials who are lax in this area are sending a
negative message. It erodes our
image of professionalism and control. Itís the little things which separate
the good officials from the average ones.
I jog to
new positions, never walk. I also note the time, distance and down as I feel
these items are all of our responsibilities and not left to just one official.
I want to be aware of the ball. Too
often we pretend that we are so focused on our area that we donít know status
of the ball. I want to know ball status.
I may not know if there is a fumble away from me but I want to know that
it is a run. Being wide gives me
the advantage of more total game awareness.
control is vital. The whistle does not kill the ball, unless it is inadvertent,
it merely indicates that action is now over.
The rules kill the ball.
when coaches scream that there was no whistle I ask them a simple
question. ďso if your player is laying on the ground and there is no whistle
itís okay for the defense punish him?Ē
Their silence affirms that they know what is right.
echo a whistle. I donít like to
call what I havenít seen. You run
the risk of echoing a phantom whistle from the stands and we know where that
leads. Also, donít be in a hurry
to rule. I never kill the play
until I see the runner down with the ball. If his back is turned, or I am
screened out I merely wait and let the action speak for itself.
Use discretion when marking the ball.
I donít like to extend a foot, I prefer to indicate with up-field foot
by subtlety extending it no more than a foot length in front of my other foot.
If the Umpire takes the spot of the other official I gently move to echo
that spot. This offering is dryer than others but then mechanics , after all,
are mechanical! Officials who
concentrate on rules or mechanics alone will never be excellent officials. We
need to emphasize both equally.
Here, then, is my check list for Mechanics:
Maintain a good field of vision start on sideline move with control,
authority, and purpose
Study the manual two-three hours a week during season one hour week
during off season observe other officials to support or change my method
Read game situation time down distance tendencies key off tackles
Dead ball - monitor sideline keep sideline clear of unnecessary traffic
talk with coaches requesting cooperation sideline warning donít wait until the
end of the fourth quarter-if they are there now it is because I let them entire
game begin on sideline check down indicator move hand down indicator AFTER box
has set keep eyes on field as much as possible
Goal line - start thinking about it when inside the ten move quickly to
goal at snap communicate with side officials to ensure we are all on the same
page. delay TD signal to allow mental process
Bean bag drop - do not toss. We need the yard line not the exact spot.
Body language keep head up keep head on swivel
Be aware of the ball know if pass or run adjust when necessary
Whistle control blow when certain ball is dead see the ball before ruling
do not echo another whistle unless absolutely needed.
Do not exaggerate movements mark spot indiscreetly adjust to crew