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Fall 2017 rules changes, points of emphasis for GHSA football, softball, and volleyball

The National Federation of High Schools, which governs high school sports and activities across the nation — including the Georgia High School Association — has released its rules changes and points of emphasis for game officials for the Fall 2017 seasons.


Football Rules Changes - 2017


1-3-1h (NEW): Added that commercial advertising is not permitted on the ball.

Rationale: The ball cannot have commercial advertising added to the surface. The only permissible items on the ball are the ball manufacturer’s name and/or logo; school name, logo and/or mascot; conference name and/or logo; state association name and/or logos; and NFHS name and/or logos.

1-5-1b(3): Further clarifies that the jersey of the home team shall be a dark color clearly contrasting to the white jersey required for the visiting team.

Rationale: Home game jersey specifications were further revised to provide schools and manufacturers additional clarification regarding the current trend of utilizing lighter gray shades. The implementation date of 2021 affords schools and manufacturers the opportunity to ensure that newer dark-colored jerseys will clearly contrast with white jerseys. The requirement for contrasting colors to white is not a new rule, and this new clarification will allow changes to be made during normal replacement cycles.

1-5-1a(2) NOTE, 1-5-4: This change now permits any of the game officials to accompany the referee to meet with the head coach for equipment verification.

Rationale: Member state associations may determine the game official who is to accompany the referee during the required pre-game meeting with each head coach.

2-3-10 (NEW), 9-4-3n (NEW), 9-4 PENALTY: Added a new definition for a blindside block and specifies a penalty for an illegal blindside block.

Rationale: Continuing with the focus on risk minimization, the committee created a definition for a blindside block. This block involves contact by a blocker against an opponent who, because of physical positioning and focus of concentration, is vulnerable to injury. Unless initiated with open hands, it is a foul for excessive and unnecessary contact when the block is forceful and outside of the free-blocking zone.

2-16-2h: Clarified that illegal participation fouls by the receiving team occurring during the kick are now enforced under post-scrimmage kick fouls.

Rationale: Illegal participation fouls by the receiving team occurring during the kick are now enforced under post-scrimmage kick fouls. Illegal substitution and illegal participation fouls by the receiving team occurring at the snap continue to be enforced from the previous spot.

2-24-10 (NEW), 6-1-11 (NEW), 6-1 PENALTY: Added a new definition for a pop-up kick and specifies a penalty for a pop-up kick.

Rationale: Continuing with the committee’s efforts to minimize risk, a pop-up kickoff has been defined. A pop-up kick is a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

2-32-16: Expands the definition of a defenseless player by incorporating specific examples.

Rationale: The committee adopted specific examples of a defenseless player. By adding these examples, the committee continues to focus on risk minimization and responded to requests on the annual NFHS football rules questionnaire from participating coaches, game officials and state association representatives.

3-4-7 (NEW): Added a new option to the offended team to start the clock on the snap for an accepted penalty inside the last two minutes of either half.

Rationale: The committee added an option for the offended team on an accepted penalty inside the last two minutes of either half. The referee continues to have the authority to start or stop the clock if a team attempts to conserve or consume time illegally.

4-2-2l (NEW): Specifies that the ball is declared dead if a prosthetic limb comes completely off the runner.

Rationale: With this change, the ball becomes dead when a prosthetic limb comes completely off the runner.

7-1-6: Now stipulates that it is encroachment to strike the ball or the snapper’s hand/arm prior to the snapper releasing the ball.

Rationale: Defensive players are restricted from contacting the ball or the snapper’s hand(s) or arm(s) until the snapper has released the ball.

7-5-10: Removes non-contact face guarding from the pass interference restrictions.

Rationale: This change eliminates the previous foul for non-contact face guarding forward-pass interference.


Facilities Statement; 1-3-2; 1-5-1a(1); 1-5-1a(2) NOTE; 1-5-2b; 1-5-3b(6); 1-5-3c(2); 1-5-5; 1-6-1; 1-6-2; 2-5-3; 2-41-3; 2-41-5; 3-4-8; 3-5-7f; 3-5-8b(2); 3-5-10b; 3-5-10c; 4-2-2k; 7-5-6a; 9-3 PENALTY; 9-4-3k; 9-8-1h; 10-5-1c; FOOTBALL FUNDAMENTALS – VI-2; PENALTY SUMMARY; INDEX.


-- Responsibility on Players to Avoid Illegal Contact

-- Illegal Helmet Contact

-- Sideline Management and Control, Professional Communication Between Coaches and Game Officials

-- Proper Enforcement of Penalties for Violations of the Equipment Rules


Softball Rules Changes - 2017


1-5-2c: The taper is the transition area which connects the narrower handle to the wider barrel portion of the bat. The taper shall have a conical shape. Language requiring the taper to be of a solid surface has been removed.

Rationale: This change brings the NFHS in line with other rules codes concerning the surface of the taper.

3-2-1: While uniforms of team members shall be of the same color and style, state associations permit players to participate while wearing a different style uniform for various reasons, including inclement weather.

Rationale: There may be circumstances in which state associations make accommodations relative to inclement weather, religious exceptions, or other situations.

3-2-7: Exposed undergarments, if worn, are considered part of the official uniform. All exposed undergarments shall be a solid single color: black, white, gray or a school color.

a. For individual players, exposed upper-body undergarments do not have to be the same color as exposed lower-body undergarments.

b. For all team members, exposed upper-body undergarments shall be the same solid single color, and all exposed lower-body undergarments shall be the same solid single color.

c. Garments other than team uniforms such as arm sleeves, leg sleeves, and tights are permissible. Anything worn on the arm or leg is a sleeve, except a brace, and shall meet the color restrictions.

Rationale: Multi-color undergarments and sleeves are a distraction and create a possible safety concern. This rule establishes solid color requirements similar to other NFHS sport rules.

3-2-15 NEW: All equipment shall be inspected by the umpire, and is to be placed outside the dugout/bench prior to the start of the game.

Rationale: Placing all equipment in one location at one time is a more efficient method to conduct this inspection.

3-6-7 PENALTY: Players and substitutes shall not enter the contest unreported. The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender on that team shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game. The head coach is also restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game for a second violation.

Rationale: Language clarifies when the coach is restricted to the dugout/bench.

2017 Major Editorial Changes

6-2-2; 7-4-8 NOTE; 8-1-2; 8-2-4 EXCEPTION

2017 Points of Emphasis

-- Pitching

-- Uniforms

-- DP/FLEX Simplified


Volleyball Rules Changes 2017


5-5-3b(12): Outlines mechanics for the second referee to sound a warning whistle at 45 seconds or any other time when both teams take the court ready to play before the audio signal (horn) is sounded at 60 seconds. Clarifies all time-outs are officially ended with the audio signal (horn).

Rationale: The defining end of a time-out shall be the horn and the warning of the impending end of the time-out is the second referee’s whistle at 45 seconds or at any other time when both teams take the court ready to play before the audio horn is sounded at 60 seconds.

5-4-3c(17): On a time-out, the first referee shall whistle the warning if the second referee is still checking the scoresheet.

Rationale: A procedure is needed for the sounding of the warning whistle should the second referee still be involved with checking the scoresheet.

5-8-3a: Outlines the new procedures for the timer to give the audio signal (horn) only to officially end a time-out and no longer for the warning at 45 seconds into the time-out.

Rationale: Clarifies that the audio signal (horn) shall only be sounded to indicate the official end of a time-out.

9-8-2 New: A replay, is considered, to be a part of a single play action. Therefore, once a replay has been called, by the first referee, no requests, e.g., time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement, etc., may be recognized until after the rally is completed.

Rationale: A replay is a single action to repeat the start and completion of a rally that was interrupted under Rule 9-8-1. Clarifies when resuming play, all circumstances should be the same and no requests shall be recognized for, e.g. time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement etc.

Officials Signals: Omit the illegal substitution signal (Signal # 20) as the penalty is Unnecessary Delay if attempting to enter the set and illegal alignment if observed in the set.

Rationale: The penalty for illegal substitution is "unnecessary delay--administrative yellow or red card;" there is no longer a need to have two penalty signals, illegal substitution and unnecessary delay.


2-1-5: Clarifies the language regarding the attack line shall be solid and one clearly visible color.

5-2-1b: Clarifies when the second referee will indicate both the nature of the fault and the number of the player committing the net fault.

2017-2018 Volleyball Editorial Changes

4-1 Penalty 3, 4-2 Penalty 2, 10-3-3, 11-2 Penalties 1 and 2, Sample Sets

2017-18 Volleyball Points of Emphasis

1. Conduct and Privileges of Assistant Coaches

2. Court Boundary Lines and Attack Lines

3. Second Referee-Handling of Request for Third Time-Out

4. Letters of Authorization

5. Mechanics of Signals and Communication

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