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18 Forward Progress

Forward Progress – Procedure

Chapter 18. Forward Progress
Pg. 88

The wing officials are primarily
responsible for forward progress.
Progress should be indicated by using
the downfield foot. Keep your head up
and observe players while marking a
spot. Do not go around or jump over
players to mark progress. Move into the
field until you approach players, then
stop. If a spot is close to the line-to-gain,
the covering official must come all the
way to the spot where the play ended.
The primary official responsible for
determining the forward progress spot
is the wing official who can actually see
the ball when the play is declared dead,
not based on what side of the field the
play ends.
When possible, the spotting official
should place the ball at his foot on all
plays that end outside the numbers
toward the sidelines. When possible,
leave the ball on the ground and retrieve
a new ball for the Umpire to spot the
new ball at the hash mark.
When you read “run,” hold your spot
then trail the runner while outside the
sideline. As you move down field trail
the try to avoid hopping. Controlled
casual movement provides the
impression of a composed confident
official until the runner breaks loose.
Get to the yard line of the progress spot
observing action on around the runner.
Square up at the progress spot by
making a ninety degree turn and move
into a position that puts you about five
to six yards from the dead ball spot if
the ball is between the numbers and the
hash marks. Stand with your feet about
shoulder width apart. Your eyes should
always be looking at the players and
not at the ground, as you square up and
move in. From that position you will be
able to observe all the play around the
pile while marking the progress spot.
On plays involving the sideline you
must be outside of the sideline trailing
the play. Face down the sideline
while your head turns to view the out
of bounds players. The Referee and
Umpire or Back Judge will assist you
with the clean up around the play. On
those plays, the clock stops when the
runner or the ball goes out of bounds,
not when you arrive at the spot. Sound
your whistle and signal timeout as you
move to the out of bounds spot. Keep
your eyes on the players at all times, not
on the spot at the sideline. You should
avoid leaving the progress spot until the
spot has been picked up by the Umpire
or Referee and they have indicated that
to you.
When you are certain of your forward
progress spot, do not allow the ball to be
spotted incorrectly.
If a spot is close to a first down, the
spotting official must come all the way to
the spot where the play ended indicating
to the Umpire that “It’s close” or “Let’s
take a look.” Wait for players to clear
your path and then continue to spot the
ball. The Umpire shall hand (not toss)
the ball to an official that has crashed
into the field for a critical spot. Umpires
appreciate a wing official that verbalizes
confidence in their spot. This avoids
confusion when the Umpire looks for a
wing official with the best spot.
The Line Judge has primary
responsibility for determining if a first
down has been achieved. If the ball is
clearly beyond the stake, he will stop
the clock and signal the first down
to the Referee (crew signal O). If the
ball is clearly short, he will announce
the number of the next down. If it is
questionable, he will stop the clock and
signal for the Referee to come forward
and look at it. He may recommend a
measurement to the Referee. Wing
officials should include the details of the
required line to gain such as, “The line to
gain is right on the 43 yard line.”