Aug 07

Full explanation of new 40-second play clock

With relatively few rule changes for the 2016 season, there will be a new wrinkle in the game management side of things.

Indiana has been asked to serve as a guinea pig by the NFHS for a new 40-second play clock that will be utilized for at least the next three years.

The hope is that this will standardize the time that the offense has to put the ball into play. Previously, officials would start the 25-second play clock when the ball was marked ready-for-play. Now, with a few exceptions, the play clock will start when the ball is downed and the offense will have 40 seconds to snap the ball.

In the Courier & Press’ recent article about the trial rule change, Reitz head coach Andy Hape said he was a little skeptical. “Anytime you try something new there are going to be hiccups. I hope the hiccups are as smooth as possible.”

Here is the the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s memo on the new rule:

25 Second clock

  1. Following a touchback.
  2. Following a charged time out by either team.
  3. Following a penalty assessment and/or enforcement.
  4. Following an official’s timeout for an injury to a player the play clock WILL reset. **
  5. At the start of a period or overtime.
  6. Following a change of possession.
  7. Following a media timeout.
  8. Following an official’s timeout for a measurement.
  9. Following an official’s timeout.
  10. Try for point after touchdown.

40 Second clock

  1. End of a running play at the end of the run, in bounds or out of bounds.
  2. End of a pass play, complete or incomplete.
  3. Following an official’s timeout for an injury to a player the play clock WILL reset. **

The 40 second clock shall start as soon as the play ends and the ball is dead. The covering official raises his arm straight up indicating that the ball is dead and signaling for the start of the 40-second play clock. The clock operator will immediately start the 40 second clock, unless something else occurs that requires the 25-second play clock to reset. (see above) The 40-second play clock should be the most used reset following a play.

If the play is ruled out of bounds the covering official will signal to stop the game clock and then signal to start the 40-second play clock.

If at the end of play a change of possession occurs, covering official will not signal to start 40-second play clock.

On an incomplete pass, the covering official will signal incomplete pass and then signal to start the 40-second play clock. If incomplete pass is on fourth down covering official will not signal start of 40-second play clock.

Signal to reset clock to 25 seconds is one arm pumped in the air by the referee or back judge.
Signal to reset clock to 40 seconds is both arms pumped in the air by the referee or back judge.

It is going to be necessary to have well trained ball personnel on both sides of the field. It is recommended that at least three ball boys be on each sideline. TWO game balls from each team will be RECOMMENDED for each sideline. Ball boys should be easily identifiable with vests, t-shirts, etc. that contrast with the team uniforms on their sideline.

The “box” man on the chain crew must hustle (RUN) to the next spot because once the ball is placed, the ball can be snapped because the 40 second clock will be running. As soon as the first down is signaled the “box” man must hustle (RUN) to the next spot. The chain crew is an extension of the officiating crew. Sideline rules will apply to the chain crew as well. Team personnel must avoid interfering with the chain crew and its operations. Stopping the game clock to signal first down will not cause the play clock to reset at 25 seconds.

It is expected that the ball will be marked ready for play within 8-10 seconds of the end of the play. The umpire will stand over the ball until the box is set following Team A reaching the line to gain. Once the box is set, the umpire will step away from the ball and the ball may be snapped.

Additionally, if the 40-second play clock is used at the sub-varsity level, a 5-man crew must be used. The mechanics are inoperable with less than 5 crew members.

-** Referee discretion

Four states will use a 40-second clock in 2016. Along with Indiana, Colorado and Michigan will also try out the new timing system. Texas has also used it since 2014, but they follow NCAA rules, not National Federation.

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