We all think we know the rules of high school football.
How knowledgeable are you on the details of the rules? A football coach, whether the head coach or an assistant, should know all the details of the rules. Here are some important items to consider.
1) The rules are constantly changing. Many times, a basic rule may be the same, but some detail may be changed by the rules committee. Each year the NFHS lists changes to the rules for the upcoming season. There are also "points of emphasis" each year of which coaches need to be aware. This means that a rule that has not been emphasized in the past may get more attention by your officials association this season.
2) It is important that you be able to teach the rules to your staff and players. The rules surrounding formations, motions, and shifts are important to your offensive execution and your players must understand them. Defensive back coaches must make sure that players understand the pass interference rules. If you don't teach these, it may cost you a crucial penalty in a big game.
3) Rules concerning the starting and stopping of the clock have changed with the 40 second clock concept. Coaches really need detailed knowledge of the clock, especially when protecting a lead in the closing minutes. Put one of your coaches in charge of the 40 second clock details and make sure he has understanding of the clock rules.
4) The NFHS rules are different from the NCAA rules and NFL rules. It is easy to get them confused. Coaches need to know the difference because your fans, your players and even the officials may get them mixed up.
5) Have you ever had a game where the officials were confused about the rules? Sooner or later it happens to everyone. Sometimes an official thinks he knows the rule but the rule has changed. Your knowledge of the rules could prevent your team from losing a game due to a crucial penalty call.
6) Assign a staff member to be a "rules expert" and keep the head coach and staff apprised of all rules changes each season.
7) Get all football staff a copy of the NFHS Rules Book. If coaches sit down and read the book, they will be amazed at the things they learned that they did not know. Have a staff discussion of what they learned, or put each coach in charge of a section of the rule book. It doesn't take that long to read, but the experience will give everyone a different way of looking at the rules of high school football.