Be the Referee: 40-Second Play Clock
Be the Referee: 40-Second Play Clock
Football, Officials
Posted Thursday, August 29, 2019

This week, MHSAA Assistant Director Brent Rice explains the change in football to a 40-second play clock.

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment - 40-Second Play Clock - Listen

One of the rules changes in high school football this year involves timing between downs.

All varsity games will be played with a 40-second play clock that begins after the conclusion of the previous play, with exceptions for things like timeouts, penalties, measurements and at the start of a period – when a 25-second count will be used.

In experiments in Michigan over the past few seasons, the 40-second play clock proved to improve the pace of play and consistency between plays because it is not dependent on the referee’s subjective signal. And while some schools may choose to purchase visible play clocks for their fields, it is not required. The Back Judge, who has the primary responsibility for the play clock, will signal at 10 seconds and count the last five seconds.


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