What Are Football Referees And Their Responsibilities?

Football referees perform the essential role of enabling our players to compete within rules and regulations. They are one of the most important people on a football pitch and many people wonder how to become professional referees. Don’t worry, this article is here to answer this.

You can see more Positions in American Football

How many referees are in NFL football?

Each NFL game has an officiating crew with seven different football referees. They are the referee, umpire, field judge, line judge, side judge, down judge, back judge, and replay official. 

The crew chief is another name for the referee. That official, who you see making the decisions on the field, will supervise all the other officials. They always wear white caps. The duties of the other officials vary, although they can be searching for pass interference, offsides, game delays, or other offenses.

The responsibilities of football referees



This is the lead official in charge of the match and typically the final arbiter of all decisions. They announced all penalties. The captain and coach of the team that committed the foul are informed of the penalties by the referee, along with the name of the guilty player. Before the play begins, they set up in the backfield, roughly 10 yards behind the quarterback.



On the defensive side of the ball, the umpire is the official who positions himself about five yards off the line of scrimmage. When making decisions regarding ball possession, the umpire supports the referee. They keep an eye on the fairness of play at the line of scrimmage. Also, he must pay particular attention to offensive holding and illegal linemen downfield. The umpire monitors the legality of the players’ equipment and ensures that the offense has no more than 11 players on the field. Inclement weather requires the umpire to wipe the ball dry between plays and record all scores, timeouts, and coin flip results.

Line judge

The next position in football referees is the line judge. In making decisions about illegal motions, illegal shifts, offsides, and encroachment, the line judge aids the chief linesman. When it comes to holding and illegal use of hand calls, the line judge supports the umpire, while the referee receives assistance from the line judge.

The line judge oversees the timing of the game and the team’s substitutions on the side of the field where they are positioned. They also look for offensive linemen coming downfield too early on punts. Then, they have to make sure the quarterback does not cross the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball.

Back judge

Back judge

The referee who positions themselves 20 yards into the defensive backfield on the wide receiver side of the field is the back judge. Making sure the defense team has no more than 11 players is one of the back judge’s responsibilities. On the wide receiver side of the field, the back judge keeps an eye on each eligible receiver. The region between the umpire and the field judge must be kept under observation by the back judge.


Field judge

Among the football referees, the one who stands 25 yards into the defensive backfield on the tight end side is the field judge. This judge is in charge of monitoring the play clock and signaling a delay of the game if it runs out. The field judge, like the back judge, ensures that the defensive team’s lineup does not exceed 11 players.

Side judge

Side judge

In the defensive backfield, 20 yards deep, on the sideline next to the head linesman, is the side judge. The duties of a side judge are very similar to those of a back judge. The side judge oversees all eligible receivers from that side of the field. Also, they make sure the defensive team has no more than 11 men on the field. The side judge oversees the region between the field judge and the umpire and assists in determining the legality of kicks during kickoffs. He additionally makes decisions on the validity of catches and passes interference penalties.

Head linesman

The head linesman is a sideline official who crosses the line of scrimmage to look for penalties including illegal motion, illegal shifts, illegal use of hands, and illegal man downfield as well as scrimmage offenses like offsides or encroachment.

Every out-of-bounds play along the sideline is decided by the head linesman. The head linesman monitors the chain team and attaches the chain to a yard marker as a point of reference for a measurement on the field.

How can I become a good referee?

referees in football

Becoming a good football referee for the National Football League is not simple. You must be committed, have experience, and put in a lot of practice. In the NFL, you must be precise because millions of people will be watching you. Their decisions have an impact on the clubs, viewers, and the NFL’s reputation.

All in all, football referees get different responsibilities to maintain the stability of gameplay. In addition, there is more wonderful information about American football, just visit American football terms and explore right now.

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