Most youth football leagues use the base NFHS High School rules as their base rule book and then amend those rules with a handful of special league rules such as weight limits, minimum play rules and special teams accommodations. In all but Texas and Massachusetts, the NFHS base rules apply. This year the NFHS made a few important rules, that will affect many youth coaches.
You can no longer be in-between the sidelines and the team box at the snap.
The NFHS made a significant change in Rule 9-8-3 in an effort to reduce the risk of injury along the sidelines. A maximum of three coaches may be in the restricted area to communicate with players during dead-ball situations. Before the ball becomes live, however, the coaches must retreat into the team box an area bounded by the 25 yard lines and 6 feet outside the sidelines.
Bob Colgate, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Football Rules Committee, said this rule change results in a 2-yard belt that is clear of team personnel and helps eliminate sideline congestion while helping to minimize the risk for participating players, coaches and officials during live-ball situations.
“There no longer will be an allowance for three coaches to remain in an area adjacent to the sideline when the ball is live,” Colgate said. “The results of a three-year experiment were favorable, which led to the committee’s support for this rule change in 2009.”
Some youth football leagues and referees adhere closely to the rules, others do not. The League we play in has almost all High School referees and many of them adhere very closely to the NFHS rule book. Be aware, this is now the rule and don’t be surprised or upset if referees hold you accountable to this one in 2009.
When coaching youth football, in the end it doesn’t really matter if we agree a rule has merit or not, we have to abide by them regardless.