ID Organization Name Type
105775 aso Other

NFHS Rules Changes

Monday, September 3, 2012
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2012 NFHS Rules Changes

Hello coaches, officials, and administrators, and welcome to another season of the sport we love. The NFHS has made a few rules changes, almost all of which will affect the way coaches teach the game to their athletes, and how officials rule on game action. Please make yourself familiar with them and pass them on to assistants, players, and parents.


Rule 1-5-3c(8): Illegal equipment shall always include, but is not limited to play cards not worn on the wrist or arm.

Players using an armband with a list of plays must wear them as intended, on the wrist or forearm. This rule prohibits players from wearing them on their belts, to address the safety issues of being grabbed by the band during tackles, as well as opponents getting fingers caught in the band during action.  Officials are encouraged to correct this informally if observed during pre-game, or by sending the player out if observed when the player enters the game. This is a safety issue, so the official should kill the play immediately if observed when the team is coming to the line. Remove the player until it is corrected. DO NOT delay the game while a player unfastens his belt to remove and correctly replace an arm band.

Penalty: Unsportsmanlike Conduct - 15 yards


Rule 2-3-7: Contact with an opponent’s hand(s) below the waist that continues into the body below the waist is considered blocking below the waist.

A longstanding interpretation viewed that it was not illegal to block below the waist if the first point of contact was the opponent’s hands, even though the hands were below the waist at the time of contact. This revision now makes any initial contact below the waist a foul if it does not meet the requirements of the free blocking zone in Rule 2-17-2.

Penalty: Illegal Block - 10 yards


Rule 2-4-1: A catch is the act of establishing player possession of a live ball which is in flight, and first contacting the ground inbounds while maintaining possession of the ball.

Previously, the covering official could rule a catch for an airborne receiver who was prevented from landing inbounds due to an opponent pushing them from the field. This change requires the player to secure possession and first touch the ground inbounds, regardless of any action by an opponent. The receiver MUST maintain possession and contact the ground inbounds with at least one foot, or one hand, or any other part of the body.

No penalty enforcement


Rule 3-5-10d: The player shall be replaced for at least one down, unless halftime or an overtime intermission occurs when the helmet comes completely off during the down without being directly attributable to a foul by an opponent.

Simply put, if the lid pops off, you sit out a play. This change is designed to correct the dangerous tendency of some players to wear their chinstrap loosely, which causes the helmet to lose a great portion of its protective integrity. This rule applies to all players on the field during the time the ball is live. It is hoped this will also encourage players to more frequently check that all four points of their chinstrap are secure, since this cannot always be observed by officials. Officials are instructed to enforce this rule only if they observe the helmet coming off without being grasped by an opponent.

It is important to emphasize that this rule is for a live ball foul. Intentionally removing the helmet to demonstrate, argue, or call attention to oneself is still considered unsportsmanlike conduct (Rule 9-5-1) and penalized as a dead ball foul. It is not necessary to also remove the player in this case unless he is being disqualified for a flagrant act or a second unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Penalty: Removal for one down

Illegal Blocking

Rule 9-3-8: No member of the kicking team shall initiate contact (block) an opponent until [a.] the legal kick has traveled ten yards, or [b.] the kicking team is eligible to recover a free kicked ball.

This change makes it a foul for the kicking team to initiate a block before the free kick has crossed the receiving team’s restraining line, or the ball has been touched by a receiver forward of the restraining line. If a kicking team player is first blocked by a receiver, he is eligible to block at that point. The rule applies only to free kicks, not to punts, field goals, or PAT attempts.

Penalty: Illegal Block – 10 yards

Illegal Helmet Contact

Rule 9-4-3h: No player or non-player shall grasp an opponent’s face mask, any edge of a helmet opening, chin strap, or a tooth and mouth protector attached to the face mask.

This expands the definition of the helmet to include the mouth protector. Officials are always directed to penalize all instances of illegal helmet contact since it directly impacts player safety.

Penalty: Illegal Helmet Contact –incidental: 5 yards. Grasping, twisting, pulling: 15 yards

Horse-collar Tackle

Rule 9-4-3k: No player or non-player shall grab the inside back or side collar of the shoulder pads or jersey of the runner and subsequently pull (backward or sideward) that opponent to the ground, even if possession is lost. The horse-collar foul is enforced as a live ball foul.

Previously a horse-collar tackle required that the runner had to be pulled down from the rear. This expands the definition to include tackles taking the runner down to his side as illegal, as well as clarifying that even though the ball may have been fumbled, it was an illegal act that led to the fumble. Grabbing the body of the jersey near the collar remains legal.

Penalty: Horse-collar Tackle – 15 yards

The Field

Rule 1-2-3L: Advertising and/or commercial markings may not obstruct the yard lines, hash marks, or nine-yard marks.

Previously, advertising was only allowed in the end zones and outside the field. Removing the on-field restrictions for corporate advertising could affect the look of APS Stadium and Rangeview Field, but will have no impact on game play. If the Aurora Youth League pursues corporate sponsorship for on-field markings, the league must assure that the restrictions of 1-2-3L and 1-2-3h are respected.


Rule 1-5-2b: Beginning with the 2013 season, gloves, which may be anchored with athletic tape, even though modified, must meet the NOCSAE test standard at the time of manufacture, unless made of unaltered plain cloth.

Requiring NOCSAE certification on gloves had been planned for this season, but has been put off a year. Gloves that meet the NHFS standard are still acceptable this season.

If you have any questions about these changes, or about any rule application, please contact me directly. It is my intent to keep a free dialog going through the season with all coaches and officials, so that everyone is aware and properly informed about the rules, and how officials administer them.

Buck Bartolik

ASO Rules Interpreter

(720) 984-0467

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