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Johnp2

Flag Guarding

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We are now 5-0, and have only given up one touchdown (in our game last night). I was starting to wonder if we could pitch the season shut-out, but now our goal is to only give up one TD. ;-)

The officiating in last night's game was simply ridiculous. The officials threw approximately 25 flags. These are new officials (two high school kids) and it got really ugly. The parents (both sides) were pretty furious as I'd say the majority of plays incurred a flag. Although we were winning, for the first time ever I considered packing it up and forfeiting the game because it was almost un-playable.

To that end, 90% of the penalties were flag-guarding. Out of those I would consider maybe one or two warranted. There were times where they called flag-guarding on our opponent, and I actually declined it, simply because it was not flag-guarding--but they would not let me decline it. Toward the end, I had my players run with their non-carrying arm raised to the sky. Crazy.

Anyway, flag-guarding in our league is a 10-yard penalty and loss of down. This got me thinking. Would it not be more appropriate to simply call the player down at the spot where he flag-guarded? Unlike holding, there is no ambiguity as to what "might" have unfolded with the play had the penalty not occured. Instead, just treat it as if the player had his flag-pulled. I'll recommend this to the league (and am sure I will get shot down), but I am curious as to your thoughts on this. I suspect I am in the minority, but it is food for thought...;-)

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Two thoughts. One is that flag guarding is a very common thing. It's a natural reaction and hard to stop yourself from doing. One of the best ways to stop the kids from doing it is to have them look downfield when they are running. When they focus in on the defender and try to avoid his pull, is when you instinctively lower your hand. My second thought is that you need to talk to the refs and the league. They should not be having that much of an influence on the game. The calls should only be made if they are relevant to the play. Maybe there has been a rash of flag guarding in your league and they have been instructed to crack down on it. You would think they would tell you that but who knows? I'd get it sorted out before the next game.

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Well to be honest I called a ton of these when I first started ref'n.Its an easy call that always happens with young kids.Its kind of like holding.As you ref more you allow it to happen unless its pretty blatant.But I usually just warn kids and see how they do.I still throw a few every game though unless its below 7 years old.Then I just talk to them about it

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Thanks for your replies. I was unaware that other leagues called it down on the spot (I thought I had a great idea). ;-)

I also agree it is an "easy" call. One time they called it and the official told me, "He dipped his shoulder. It kind of looked like his hand got down there--it was close." (But yet he still called it.) We are happy to accept our penalties and move on, and even when I disagree with the call, I still accept it and move on. It was a little frustrating though as my players worked HARD not to flag-guard, and they still kept calling it.

To me, flag-guarding is when a player purposely makes a move to prevent a defender from grabbing his flag. I think the officials were calling it anytime a ball-carrier's arm was in the vicinity of his own flag, which if you run properly will be with every other stride. The good news is that our head official is very good about improving his staff, so we'll see.

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Flag guarding is a big deal in our league, the refs talk about it before every game. They strongly suggest carrying the ball with both hands which makes sense. When our kids carried the ball with both hands, we never were called for flag guarding. Problem is, it slows down the runner.

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I also agree it is an "easy" call. One time they called it and the official told me, "He dipped his shoulder. It kind of looked like his hand got down there--it was close." (But yet he still called it.)

To me, flag-guarding is when a player purposely makes a move to prevent a defender from grabbing his flag. I think the officials were calling it anytime a ball-carrier's arm was in the vicinity of his own flag, which if you run properly will be with every other stride. The good news is that our head official is very good about improving his staff, so we'll see.

John, whenever a play dips his shoulder flag guarding should always be called.Flag guarding can be called even if its not intentional.With new officials its a hard thing to call.It also depends on how tightly the league wants it called.1 league I referee for wants it called with no if/and/but about it.Others I work for allow the kids to play.

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Rushbuster as you alluded, once you became more experienced with officiating you could more easily ascertain when it was really a hindrance to the defender, and when it wasn't. That's the spirit of the rule as I understand it. Else you can just cherry pick all game long---and no one wants that (except an overzealous official). It's much like "false starts". In your next game, check out how many players on the LOS make subtle moves that could easily be called. However, good officials realize it is not affecting the outcome of the play--so simply let the kids play football.

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Rushbuster as you alluded, once you became more experienced with officiating you could more easily ascertain when it was really a hindrance to the defender, and when it wasn't. That's the spirit of the rule as I understand it. Else you can just cherry pick all game long---and no one wants that (except an overzealous official). It's much like "false starts". In your next game, check out how many players on the LOS make subtle moves that could easily be called. However, good officials realize it is not affecting the outcome of the play--so simply let the kids play football.

correct you are sir...Its tough for new officials.lol that was the biggest rule I had a prob with when i started.With false starts any ages under 11 I dont even call it.If a player takes off before the snap I will simply blow the whistle and make them start again.easiest way to handle that lol.kids under that age tend to move to way too much so i make sure i address that with both coaches before the start of each game.

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