ID Organization Name Type
105775 aso Other

Chain Crew Procedures

Friday, August 3, 2012
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Chain Crew Procedures

Thank you for being involved in your child’s game as a member of the chain crew!  Chain crew members are off-field officials of the game, and need to maintain an attentive, alert presence at all times.  You should avoid cheering for teams or players as much as possible, and use a proper voice level to avoid calling unwanted attention to yourself.  This is especially important if you are working on the opponent’s sideline.  You also need to avoid distractions like cell phones, taking pictures, talking to the teams, and facing away from the field of play.  These things take your attention away from the game, putting you at risk of injury and possibly losing the spot of the ball.

The chain crew has four members:

  1. Forward stick holder
  2. Back stick holder
  3. Down box operator
  4. Head Linesman

The team must move quickly to help keep the game moving.  However, no member of the team changes position after a play until instructed to do so by the Head Linesman.  Penalties could bring the ball back to the previous spot, so we need to keep that spot marked as long as necessary.

Setting the chains on First Down

Back stick official sets the stick 2 yards behind the Head Linesman’s foot at the forward spot of the ball, then steps on the chain where it connects to the post and tells the forward stick official “STRETCH IT!”

Forward stick official pulls the stick taut and places it at the new line-to-gain.

Down box operator then sets the box in front of the back stick and sets the indicator to “1.” He should then let the back stick official hold the down box while he resets the 5-yard clip on the chain link that rests at the front of the 5 yard line closest to the ball, and then retrieve the down box.

The down box operator is the only team member to move before a new first down is gained.  When that happens, the crew should not move until the Head Linesman or Referee signals the first down.

On-field measurement

When the ball is near the line-to-gain, but too close to visually determine if a first down has been gained, the Referee may need to measure by bringing the chain crew onto the field.

  1. The Head Linesman will secure the chain by holding the 5 yard clip.
  2. The Head Linesman will instruct the stick holders to move onto the field with him, quickly, as a team.  (The down box operator remains on the sideline.)
  3. The Head Linesman will set the chain on the appropriate yard line.
  4. The Umpire will take the front stick from the forward stick holder and extend it fully.
  5. The Referee will determine and signal whether or not the line-to-gain has been reached.
  6. The front stick holder will take back the stick.
  7. If the line-to-gain has not been reached, the Umpire will hold the link where the ball rests and move to the sideline with the chain crew.  The down box operator will set the box at the Umpire’s mark and change the down.
  8. If the line-to-gain has been reached (first down) the entire crew will move forward and set the new line-to-gain.


When the new first down is inside the 10 yard line of the defense (“first and goal”), the stick holders will set the sticks on the ground.  Only the down box operator will continue to mark the downs.


If the play comes to the sideline, simply drop your stick to the ground, away from the field as you back away from the players.  Don’t take it with you, don’t toss it as you retreat, and definitely don’t try to hold your ground.

Thank you again for being involved in the game.  Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy your role!

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