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Referee Signals

Pre-Snap Offensive Penalties

Delay Of Game

It occurs when the offense doesn’t snap the football before the play clock expires.

False Start

Called when an offensive player moves after they establish their set position.

Illegal Shift

Called when 2 players go in motion at the same time, after establishing their set position.

Illegal Substitution

Having 12 players on the field or illegally breaking the huddle with 12 players.

Post-Snap Offensive Penalties

Block In The Back

Blocking a player in the back to gain an advantage while a play is being run.

Chop Block

Blocking a player from the waist up, then a second player blocking from the waist down.


Blocking a player from behind and below the waist causing the player to fall.

Illegal Block Below The Waist

Illegally blocking a player below the waist in certain areas of the field.

Illegal Forward Pass

Throwing a forward pass, passed the line of scrimmage.

Illegal Hands To The Face

Putting the hands on the face mask without grabbing the face mask completely.

Ineligible Receiver

If a receiver steps out of bounds, they are ineligible to be the first receiver to touch the football in bounds.

Intentional Grounding

Called when the forward pass doesn’t reach the line of scrimmage or when a player isn’t in the area to catch the football.

Offensive Holding

Called when a player holds the jersey, shoulder pads, or body parts of a defensive player, restricting their movement.

Pass Interference

When an offensive player makes contact unfairly with a defensive player to play on a forward pass.


It is called when an offensive player deliberately sticks their legs out and trips a defensive player to gain an advantage.

Pre-Snap Defensive Penalties


Called when a player jumps offsides and touches another player.

Neutral Zone Infraction

Called when another player passes the neutral zone.


Called when a player lines up with a part of their body past the line of scrimmage

Post-Snap Defensive Penalties


Called when a player grasps another player’s face mask in any way.

Horse Collar

Called when a player tackles an offensive player by the back of their shoulder pads.

Defensive Pass Interference

Called when a player unfairly makes contact with an offensive player to catch the football.

Roughing The Passer

Called when the quarterback is hit after the ball is thrown.

Roughing The Kicker

Called when the kicker is hit after the ball is kicked.


Called when a player goes helmet to helmet with another player in a violent manner.


Called when a defensive player trips an offensive player to gain an advantage

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Called when a player does something unsportsmanlike to the game of football.

Other Penalties & Signals

Ball Ready

The referee signal for the ball is in play and ready for the offense to snap it.

Dead Ball

Called when a dead ball, also known as a penalty that occurs after the play occurs.


Called when a player or a coach is ejected from the game.

End Game

This referee signals the game is over. The referee will take off his hat or raise the ball in the air.

First Down

This referee signal indicates that the offense has gained enough yards for a first down.

Incomplete Pass

This referee signal indicates the offense did not complete a forward pass.

Injury Timeout

Called when the referee needs to stop the clock for an injury or a coach’s timeout.

No Good

Called by the referee standing under the field goal post, this signal indicates no good kick.

Personal Foul

Called when a player commits a penalty that’s done to hurt another player purposely.

Reset The Play Clock

Signaled to the game clock operator, this tells them to reset the play clock.


Signaled when the defense forces to offense to either down the ball or fumble out of their own zone

Sideline Warning

Called when a referee warns the sideline or coach about their conduct.

Stop The Clock

Signals to the game clock operator to stop the clock.


Signaled by the referee that a touchback has occurred from the kicking team.


Signaled when a player crossed the goal line successfully for 6 points.

Ball Is Not Catchable

Signaled when the ball that is thrown is uncatchable after a defensive player makes contact

Waiving Off The Flag

Signaled when the referee makes a mistake and needs to waive off the flag.

Wind The Clock

Signaled to the game clock operator to start the clock.