Fall 2018 NFHS rules revisions for football, softball, volleyball, and cross country

The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) has released its revisions, rationales, clarifications, editorial changes, and points of emphasis for officials for the Fall 2018 GHSA seasons in football, softball, volleyball, and cross country.

The NFHS has been the national high school sports and activities governing body since 1920 with offices in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The NFHS serves its 50 member state high school athletic/activity associations plus the District of Columbia and publishes playing rules in 16 sports for boys and girls competition. NFHS also administers fine arts programs in speech, theater, debate, and music. The NFHS serves over 11 million students each year. Rules revisions, rationales, clarifications, and points of emphasis:



1-5-4, 1-5-5, 3-5-10e (NEW) 3-6-2, 9-9: Improperly equipped player shall be replaced for at least one down.

Rationale: Prior to the game, the head coach is responsible for verifying that the players are legally equipped and will not use illegal equipment. The penalty for a player who is not properly equipped has changed from a distance penalty against the team to removal of that player for at least one down. The penalty provisions for any use of illegal equipment remain unchanged and result in an unsportsmanlike conduct foul charged to the head coach.

2-32-16a: Defenseless player provisions for passer clarified.

Rationale: The committee clarified that defenseless player provisions do not apply to a passer until a legal forward pass is thrown. The passer continues to be a defenseless player until the pass ends or the passer moves to participate in the play.

6-1-3b PENALTY, 6-1-4 PENALTY: Signal change for free kick infractions.

Rationale: The signal for free kick infractions, other than encroachment of the neutral zone, has been changed from signal 18 to signal 19.

6-1-9b (NEW), 6-1-9b PENALTY (NEW), 10-4-2 EXCEPTION (NEW), 10-5-1j (NEW): New penalty option adopted for fouls by kicking team.

Rationale: In an effort to reduce re-kicks, further minimize risk and ensure that appropriate penalties are in place for all fouls, the committee has added an option for fouls committed by the kicking team during free and scrimmage kicks. The change would allow the receiving team all of the previous options as well as accepting the distance penalty at the end of the down.

SIX-PLAYER FOOTBALL (RULE 3): Length of time between periods revised.

Rationale: The timing rule between periods and intermission for six-player football has been standardized to match the current NFHS 8-, 9- and 11-player football rules.


Field Diagrams, 1-3-7, Table 1-7 (9.), 3-4-2c, 3-5-2b, 3-5-5b, 3-6 PENALTY, 5-1-2a, 7-2-5b EXCEPTION (1), Table 7-5-4, 7-5-5, 9-4 PENALTY, 9-5-1h, 9-7-2 EXCEPTION, 9-8-1j, 10-4-7, Resolving Tied Games, Penalty Summary, NFHS Official Football Signals, Index.


Proper Wearing and Use of Required Equipment

Blindside Blocks and Defenseless Player

Application of Personal Fouls and Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Time Management



1-1-7, 2-22-4, Table 5-1, 5-1-1o: The media shall be prohibited from being in live-ball area. The home team or game management may designate an area for the media in dead ball territory.

Rationale: Clarifies that game management may designate a media area in dead ball territory.

1-5-2a: The knob may be molded, lathed, welded or adjustable, but must be permanently fastened.

Rationale: Clarifies that an adjustable knob is permissible, provided the knob is permanently fastened by the manufacturer.

1-8-4: Defensive players are permitted to wear a shield on their face/head protection in the field but it must be constructed of a molded, rigid material that is clear and permits 100 percent (no tint) allowable light transmission.

Rationale: In an effort to promote risk minimization, tinted eye shields are prohibited for defensive face/head protection.

6-1-1 PENALTY, 6-1-2 Thru 4 PENALTY, 6-2-1 PENALTY, 6-2-7 PENALTY: in the case of an illegal pitch, the batter is awarded a ball. The penalty that permitted base runners to be awarded one base without liability to be put out is removed.

Rationale: The new language creates more balance between offense and defense. The batter should receive the award rather than runners already on base.


2-65-2: Clarifies there can be no appeal of the play that occurred prior to the umpire awarding an intentional walk.

6-1-2a, b: Clarifies what motion constitutes the start of the pitch and when the step back of the non-pivot foot may be taken.

APPENDIX H: An Appendix regarding DP/FLEX rules was added for quick reference.


2-65-2, 3-5-1 NOTE, 5-1 Table, 5-1-1k, 6-2-5, 7-1-2 PENALTY 3, 8-2-4 PENALTY, 8-4-3, 10-1-1



2-4-1b: A referee shall stop play when any player gains an illegal advantage by contacting any team member while playing the ball.

Rationale: Clarifies that no team member may assist a player during an attempt to play the ball.

5-5-3b(10) (NEW): The second referee has the responsibility to ensure that the head coach remains in the replacement zone no closer than 6 feet to the sideline, when standing during play.

Rationale:Supports the second referee’s responsibilities as outlined in the Officials Manual.

5-5-3b(13), 5-5-3b(20), 5-8-3a NOTE (NEW): When multiple courts are in use, the second referee may end a time-out or interval between sets with a long whistle in place of the timer sounding an audio signal (horn).

Rationale:Clarifies timer and second referee responsibilities during time-outs/intervals when multiple courts are in use.

9-8-2 EXCEPTION (NEW), 11-4-1b (NEW): When a replay is signaled due to an injury/illness and the injured/ill player cannot continue play, the head coach may request a substitute or complete a legal libero replacement for the injured/ill player or take a team time-out(s) if the team has remaining time-outs.

Rationale: Clarifies the procedures for a replay due to an injured/ill player and adds the option of a legal libero replacement.

10-2 PENALTIES 2: After a team is charged with an unnecessary delay, the coach may request no further substitutions until the next completed rally.

Rationale: Eliminates further delay of the set by removing the option to request additional substitutions after a team is charged with an unnecessary delay.

11-5-3 (NEW): Between sets, teams may warm up in their playing area, but may not hit volleyballs over the net into the opponents playing area.

Rationale: Establishes parameters for warming up between sets that minimize the risk of injury.

SIGNAL #21: To signal unnecessary delay, raise the hand on the side of the offending team beside head, palm facing shoulder, hold the appropriate card on the wrist of the raised hand.

Rationale:Simplifies mechanics for unnecessary delay signal and clarifies side at fault.


1-5-2c (NEW), 1-7-2 thru 4: Provides consistency by listing all reasons why a match shall be declared a forfeit and clarifies that a forfeit is considered a termination of a match and not a suspension.

5-4-1c: Clarifies that the inspection of net antennas is a prematch responsibility of the first referee.

5-5-3b (13) & (20): Clarifies that the second referee shall use a double whistle to indicate the warning during a time-out and when an intermission is used.

6-4-5 NOTE (NEW): Clarifies that when a team is playing with fewer than six players, the vacant position remains open when rotating to the front row.

2018-2019 Volleyball Editorial Changes

2-1-4, 5-2-1b, 5-4-4d(1) & (4), 10-4-3c, 12-2 Procedures for Unsporting Conduct Violations 4 and 5, How to Use the Signals #20

2018-19 Volleyball Points of Emphasis

Safety of Referee Stands

Warm-Up Safety

Treatment of Line Judges

Net Fault Signal Mechanics



4-3-1: Eliminates redundant language and expands definition of foundation garments.

Rationale: This change expands the current interpretation of foundation garment to include any item worn under the uniform top and/or bottom as well as eliminate duplicate language in same rule.

4-3-2: Clarifies uniform language for relay and cross country team members.

Rationale: Slight differences in design of uniform do not negatively impact the identification of a relay or cross country team. The expectation of this rule is that all relay and cross country team members can be clearly identified as representing the same school.

8-1-1 thru 3: Clarifies legal course layout.

Rationale: Clarification of course markings.

8-3-2 thru 5: Clarifies order of finish based on torso.

Rationale: Clarifies that no matter the system used, the order of finish is based on when the torso crosses the finish line.

2019 Editorial Changes

6-2-20: Provides consistent language in the rules book, case book and officials manual.

Rationale: Consistency with wording in the rules books.

2019 Editorial Changes

4-6-5 Notes, 5-1-3, 8-6-1 thru 3, 5-2-3, 5-3-6, 6-5-1, 6-9-1

2019 Points of Emphasis


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