NEW BASKETBALL---WRESTLING RULES UPDATE---NFHS SPRING SPORTS RULES FOR 2021....MULTI SPORT PATRICK MAHOMES.....FALL SECTION CHAMPIONS.....OVER USE OF ATHLETES--Too much, too soon injures young bodies By Kay Lazar Globe Staff,September 6, 2019, 8:44 p.m.

Game Forfeiture Process Clarified in 2020-21 High School Basketball Rules Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 11, 2020) — Beginning next year, high school basketball rules will further clarify when a contest is to be forfeited, including if a qualified individual is not present to coach.

A proposal for a national rule mandating a shot clock as well as a proposal to allow a shot clock by state adoption were not approved.

“Information was given to the Basketball Rules Committee that shared the votes in individual states on how coaches and officials voted in support of or non-support of the shot clock rule,” said Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Basketball Rules Committee. “The conversation among the committee members explored the pros and cons of enacting the proposal as a rule for all states and likewise for state adoption. The committee will continue to explore the shot clock issue.”

These were among the topics discussed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Basketball Rules Committee at its annual meeting April 14-16. The rules meeting was held in an online format to comply with current health safety guidelines. All recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. 

Rule 5-4-1 was one of three rules updated by the committee. It now states that a game is declared a forfeit if a coach is removed from the contest for unsporting conduct and no authorized school personnel are present to assume responsibility of the team.

“Most states have bylaws to cover the instance when no adult school staff is on the bench to attend to the team. Officials are not likely to read those bylaws and consequently not know that rule,” Wynns said. “Having the basketball rules cover such a situation helps the contest officials and coaches alike if such a situation were to arise.”

Rule 10-6-1 Penalty was also amended to clarify that an official is not required to provide a warning to a coach before a technical foul is given.

“This amends an existing rule that gave the impression that a warning was a prerequisite to ruling a technical foul,” Wynns. “Using the word ‘may’ helps one to understand that a warning is only an option.”

A timer’s responsibilities were addressed in Rule 2-12-5 when a player is disqualified or injured. A warning signal is sounded to begin a 15-second interval to replace a disqualified or injured player. A second warning signal was added when the 15 seconds expires to prepare teams for the resumption of play.

A complete listing of the basketball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Basketball.”




INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 1, 2020) — A total of 16 rules changes were approved in high school water polo for the next two years with a focus on risk minimization, improving the pace of play and providing more scoring options on offense.

All rules revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Water Polo Rules Committee at its April 1 meeting held virtually were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. All changes will be a part of the 2020-22 NFHS Water Polo Rules Book which will be available in late August.

As a means of creating more scoring opportunities, a 6-meter line will be in place next year, allowing offensive players more space in the front court and giving the center forward more room to receive the ball. The 5-meter line will continue to be used for penalty throws.

A number of changes were approved in Rule 4-21 regarding how goals are scored, including that a goal can be scored on a direct shot on goal from a corner throw.

In Rule 4-21-1, at least two players must intentionally touch the ball after a free throw or restart of play inside 6 meters. If the foul is inside of 6 meters, the player must pass the ball to another player before a goal can be scored.

In Rule 4-21-2, if both the foul and the ball are outside of 6 meters, a player may put the ball into play and then shoot.

“This change also allows players to put the ball into play and shoot directly from a corner throw, creating a faster, simpler game with more scoring opportunity,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and staff liaison to the NFHS Water Polo Rules Committee.

 Other changes in Rule 4-21 include altering the signal for awarding a free throw outside but within one meter of the 6-meter line (4-21-3), clarifying that both the foul and the ball must be outside the 6-meter line for a player to take a direct shot (4-21-4) and removing the corner throw from a list of situations in which a direct goal cannot be scored after a restart (4-21-5).

In another change aimed at improving scoring opportunities, the committee altered Rule 4-20 regarding goalkeeper privileges, which now states that “the goalkeeper may move beyond and touch the ball past the half-distance line. The goalkeeper may shoot from anywhere in the pool and may take a penalty shot and/or participate in a shootout.”

“In addition to following the national trends of the sport, this change creates consistency to benefit players, coaches and referees, and it provides more scoring options for teams,” Searcy said.

In another change in Rule 5-10-1 designed to address pace of play, a free throw now will be taken at the spot of the ball except if the foul is committed by a defending player within the defender’s 2-meter area, the free throw shall be taken on or outside the 2-meter line.

“This speeds up the game by playing the ball where it lies,” Searcy said. “Previously, when the foul occurred behind the ball, the referee had to blow multiple whistles and interject himself or herself in the game by making the player throw the ball backward where the foul occurred, which slowed the flow of the game.”

  With risk minimization in mind, the committee added a new Rule 1-26, which permits players to wear a soft-padded cap, but it must meet the requirements of Rules 1-20 through 1-24 and Rule 2-4.
The committee noted that coaches, athletes and parents/guardians should review the manufacturers’ warnings about proper usage and performance limits of such products.

In another change affecting several rules, interval time has been defined as any time the ball is removed from the water by the referee.

Several new rules were added to Rule 7 – Exclusion Fouls. In Rule 7-3-13, if a player voluntarily leaves the field of play, under the sideline or goal line other than his or her own re-entry area, the player shall be permitted to re-enter the field of play from the re-entry area nearest to that player’s goal line or from anywhere after one of the following: a goal scored, a time-out or end of the period.

A new Rule 7-22 addresses a tactical foul and states that “it shall be an exclusion foul if a player on defense commits an ordinary foul outside of 6 meters and does one of the following (but not limited to) as a “tactical foul” to prevent the player from shooting a direct shot: a) knocks the ball inside 6 meters, b) knocks the ball farther away from the goal or c) throws the ball away. If the tactical foul is committed in the final minute of the game to prevent a goal, it is a penalty foul.”

In Rule 8 – Penalty Fouls, a new Rule 8-9 addresses an attacking player from behind within 6 meters, which states that it is a penalty foul for a defending player to foul or impede an attacking player from behind within the 6-meter area in a probable goal situation regardless of whether he or she is holding the ball.

A complete listing of the water polo rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Water Polo.”


2020-21 High School Wrestling Rules Changes Address Weigh-In Procedures, Hair-Length Restrictions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Contact: Elliot Hopkins

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 28, 2020) — As the result of a concerted effort to accommodate the growing number of female wrestlers, the 2020-21 high school wrestling rules changes are headlined by significant adjustments to weigh-in protocol and appropriate hair-length requirements.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee met April 5-6 and recommended 11 rules changes to take effect next school year. In accordance with current health safety guidelines, the rules meeting was held in an online format. All rules revisions recommended by the Wrestling Rules Committee were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“These rule changes are some of the most prolific modifications in the history of high school wrestling,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee. “The rules committee made necessary, drastic changes to attract more young people to our sport without sacrificing the health and safety of the participants.”

The weigh-in procedure was altered through a combination of changes to Rule 4-5 (Weighing-In) of the Wrestling Rule Book. Following an amendment to the legal uniform laid out in Rule 4-1-1c, which now permits female wrestlers to wear a form-fitted compression shirt that completely covers their breasts in addition to a one-piece singlet and a suitable undergarment, Rule 4-5-7 was rewritten to require that a legal uniform be worn during weigh-in and that no additional weight allowance be granted. An additional clause prohibiting shoes and ear guards during weigh-in was also written into 4-5-7.

Weighing-in with a legal uniform allowed the committee to break down more gender barriers with subsequent changes to Rules 4-5-1, 4-5-2 and 4-5-4. Previously, weigh-ins consisted of shoulder-to-shoulder lineups of each contestant that were separated by gender (4-5-2), took place a maximum of one hour prior to competition (4-5-1) and required supervision by a referee of each respective gender (4-5-4).

With the institution of the legal uniform (one-piece singlet or two-piece), male and female wrestlers are now able to weigh-in together in the same lineup, allowing gender-specific language to be removed from all three rules. Additionally, the form-fitted compression shirt offers females a more suitable uniform for post-weigh-in skin checks, which are typically done by male officials.

“The change to the weighing-in process is remarkably timely, as schools have struggled in the past to identify adult females to weigh-in the female wrestlers,” Hopkins said. “This action accommodates transgender children as well; it respects their rights and dignity and addresses any modesty concerns for any affected children. We anticipate that the entire weigh-in process will be expedited and more efficient.”

Significant changes to the hair-length rule (Rule 4-2-1) were also linked to the committee’s focus on inclusion. Previously, a wrestler’s hair could not “extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar” in the back, below earlobe level on the sides or below the eyebrows in the front. Those confinements, along with the requirement that a hair cover be used for hair that exceeded said limitations, were deleted. Considerable support for this rule change from coaches and officials was generated by an initiative of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, which successfully experimented with relaxed hair restrictions this past winter.

“Removing the hair-length rule is a monumental change,” Hopkins said. “It is important to embrace the current culture of young boys and girls who are expressing themselves through their appearance, making this the perfect opportunity to extend wrestling to young people who otherwise would not be attracted to our sport. While the hair-length restriction has been removed, the requirement that hair-control devices/treatment items cannot be hard, abrasive or sharp remains. If a hair cover is used, it shall be attached to the ear guards. Additionally, the barring of oils, or greasy substances on or in the hair is still in effect.”

Another modification to the wrestling uniform came through Rule 4-1-3. In order to curtail participants from intentionally lacing their shoes too loosely to cause a stoppage in the action and potentially thwart an opponent’s scoring opportunity, a technical violation will be assessed in any instance where a shoe comes off, and the injury clock will be started to correct the situation. This change is made under the assumption that a wrestler is, in fact, properly equipped to wrestle when the match begins, as a wrestling shoe that is properly laced and secured will not typically come off.

Technical violations were the subject of change in Rule 7-3-1 as well. To avoid penalizing a participant twice for the same sequence of events, wording was added to 7-3-1 declaring that points will not be awarded to a wrestler whose opponent has fled the mat if that wrestler has already scored for a near-fall or takedown.

Under Rule 8-1-4, a match will now automatically be stopped and restarted in the event a wrestler commits a fourth stalling violation. Previously, if the offender was called for a fourth stall of the match while in the defensive or neutral position, there was no guarantee his or her opponent would be awarded choice of position through a restart if the violation occurred during the third period.

“This rule remedies that if the fourth stall occurs in the third period there might not be an opportunity to restart before the end of the match,” Hopkins said. “This rule change assures that the offending wrestler is held accountable and subsequent points are awarded to the opponent.”

Based on the hair-length changes, Rule 5-29-1, which addresses unnecessary roughness, was edited to include “pulling an opponent’s hair” as an additional example of the offense.

Finally, a new article was added to Rule 8-2 dealing with participant injuries. Rule 8-2-9 has been designed to discourage wrestlers from requesting injury time from the official as an attempt to stop an opponent from scoring. If the referee determines a wrestler would have scored had the injury time-out not taken place, the injured contestant will be charged an injury time-out and applicable points will be awarded to the non-injured party.

NFHS to Halt Printing of Spring Sports Rules Publications;

2020 Rules to be Used in 2021 Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Contact: Davis Whitfield

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 24, 2020) — Due to the cancellation of spring sports at high schools across the country, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will not be publishing new rules (both print and digital) for 2021 in the sports of baseball, softball, track and field, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse.

Because very few schools were able to compete in these sports prior to the March shutdown of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, competition in these sports in 2021 will be conducted under 2020 NFHS rules for baseball, softball, track and field, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse.

“Since most schools were not able to practice or play a game in these sports, we thought it was best to carry the 2020 rules publications forward to next year,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “Our rules committees in these sports will conduct virtual meetings this summer but will not be approving any additional rules changes.”

Among the five aforementioned sports, a total of eight 2020 NFHS publications will be used for the 2021 season, including the Baseball Rules Book, Baseball Case Book, Softball Rules Book, Softball Case Book, Track and Field/Cross Country Rules Book, Track and Field/Cross Country Case Book, Girls Lacrosse Rules Book and Boys Lacrosse Rules Book. In addition, the 2020 NFHS Simplified and Illustrated Rules and 2020 Rules by Topic books for baseball and softball produced in concert with Referee Enterprises Inc. (REI) will be used in 2021 as well.

The NFHS Baseball Umpires Manual and the NFHS Track and Field/Cross Country Officials Manual will be published this year as scheduled since these are two-year publications.

As a result of this change, the NFHS will be working with its member state associations to fulfill needs for additional 2020 spring sports rules publications in advance of the 2021 season.

Playing Multiple Sports in High School

Paves Way for Mahomes’ Success 


Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director



On football’s grandest stage this past weekend, its latest star attraction not only delivered another virtuoso performance but demonstrated the best career path to success.

In leading the Kansas City Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV, quarterback Patrick Mahomes brought to an end another tremendous year of football at all levels and became the latest – and perhaps best – example of the benefits of playing multiple sports during high school. 

In the week prior to the Super Bowl, Mahomes talked about his ascension to the top of the football world. Despite the opportunity to focus solely on baseball as his father had done, Mahomes rejected sport specialization. Instead, he spoke about how playing multiple sports in high school paved the way for his success.  

The top performer on the grandest stage of the sport, Mahomes made it to the top of the football mountain by NOT playing football year-round. Had he chosen to specialize in one sport during his high school days in east Texas, Mahomes might never had made it to NFL since as he noted in the week prior to the Super Bowl he was “a baseball player that was playing football.”

            Mahomes believes the skills he learned as a shortstop in baseball and as a point guard in basketball helped him more as a quarterback on the football field than if he had chosen to devote his entire energies to football.

His uncanny ability to throw passes from various angles unlike any of today’s perfect-form pocket quarterbacks? He gained those skills on the baseball field. His ability to throw lasers to his intended receivers without looking? He learned those skills on the basketball court at Whitehouse High School in Texas.

His trek to the top of the football world supports our belief that playing multiple sports within the education-based structure – as opposed to a single-sport focus in a non-school program – is the best route to future success.

Mahomes experienced the benefits of playing multiple sports – better leadership and teamwork skills from cross-training, reduced risk of burnout in one sport, a variety of experiences from involvement with different sports and teams, reduced risk of overuse injuries in one sport and exposure to a variety of coaching styles.

Many parents believe that in order for their son or daughter to earn a college scholarship and eventually play at the professional level, they have to specialize in one sport year-round. This pattern has led to the proliferation of non-school programs and coaches, many of which stray from the education-based focus of high school sports.

While there are a few who achieve elite status in a sport, the majority of people who participate do not. We believe the multiple-sport path demonstrated by Mahomes is the best route to attaining athletic success and lifelong enjoyment of sports.
























BOYS WATER POLO                                                            GIRLS WATER POLO

D-1  BUCHANAN                                                                   D-1  CLOVIS

D-2  EL DIAMANTE                                                              D-2  GARCES

D-3  TULARE WESTERN                                                     D-3  SAN JOAQUIN MEMORIAL



 BOYS                                                                                    GIRLS

D-1   CLOVIS NORTH                                                        D-1   BUCHANAN

D-2   RIDGEVIEW                                                               D-2   SAN LUIS OBISPO

D-3   CENTRAL                                                                    D-3   EDISON

D-4   PORTERVILLE                                                           D-4   NIPOMO

D-5   MAMMOTH                                                                D-5   MAMMOTH


















Haley Lewis’s injuries started the summer before seventh grade with a left ankle sprain. She’d been playing soccer nearly nonstop en route to the state finals with her local Newton team, while also competing for an intense soccer club.

Then came the fracture in her pelvis, from constant kicking. Now, the 16-year-old is rehabbing a cartilage tear in her left knee; it sidelined her the entire summer. She hopes to rejoin her soccer teams later this month.

“I’m in a very competitive environment,” Lewis said. “Usually I try to play through [injuries] and I’m not sure that’s the best thing, but I do.”

Lewis has plenty of company. The phenomenon of children’s specializing in one sport at increasingly higher intensities has continued unabated, despite more than a decade of warnings from physicians and physical therapists about the harm it does to young bodies. So too, have the fractures, tears, sprains, and worn-down young joints.

About 22 percent of soccer players 14 years old and younger are hobbled by overuse injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ OneSport Injury campaign, the academy’s latest initiative to reverse the trend of overuse injuries in children and teens. The percentages are even higher for young baseball (25 percent) and football players (28 percent).

“In middle school and high school kids, 50 percent of injuries we are seeing are preventable if these kids weren’t playing year-round,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Matzkin, chief of women’s sports medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

The lure of mastering a sport at a tender age to gain college scholarships or entree into the pros can be a big driver of these overuse injuries, said Matzkin. She advises children to play multiple sports throughout high school, rather than specializing in one.


“These kids and parents, they all live the dream,” Matzkin said. “I see it everyday in my clinic, and I get it. I have three kids and they all play sports. It’s their life. It’s their identity.”

Sports medicine specialists say they try to encourage enthusiasm for youth sports, which are beneficial for young bodies and minds. But they want to help kids avoid injuries and burnout, and to understand the reality: A small percentage of young athletes will be recruited to play at college, and a vanishingly small fraction make it to a professional level.

Fewer than 10 percent of high school athletes, with the exception of ice and field hockey, and lacrosse, will go on to play at college, according to the latest data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Fewer than 2 percent of college athletes will become professional basketball or football players, and less than 10 percent will make it to the majors in baseball and hockey.

Lewis received physical therapy for her knee: “I want to be a healthy person when I’m older and go to the gym,” she said.

Lewis received physical therapy for her knee: “I want to be a healthy person when I’m older and go to the gym,” she said.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF/GLOBE STAFF

Still, it’s often hard for some players and their parents to keep these statistics in perspective, said Haley’s father, Craig Lewis, who has coached youth soccer in Newton for more than a decade, including his three daughters’ teams. Over that time, he said, it’s been increasingly difficult to keep youngsters from playing their chosen sport constantly.

“If one kid hears another kid is doing it, then they all are doing it,” Lewis said. “We try in the summer to give our girls time off, but it’s very hard. The club team is non-negotiable. If you don’t come to 90 to 95 percent of practices, they won’t keep you on the team.”


Dr. Matthew Salzler, chief of sports medicine at Tufts Medical Center, said he has seen a fairly significant increase in hip, knee, and ankle injuries in young athletes, most typically in gymnastics and endurance running, such as cross country and track. He’s also seeing an increase in shoulder injuries in young baseball players.

“Their bodies are still developing, so stress fractures suggest that there is too much stress on the bone, and as their bodies grow, they can be at risk for stunted or abnormal growth,” he said.

Dr. Nancy Robnett Durban, a physical therapist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and a spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association, said areas around the growth plates — the places where the bone lengthens in still-growing young bodies — are often where she sees overuse injuries in young athletes.

“We see a lot of Sever’s Disease in the heel at the bottom of the foot, where they bear weight,” she said. “We see a lot of little soccer players with this.”

Sports medicine specialists say they worry that a generation of overly ambitious young athletes will face the agony of osteoarthritis, particularly in their knees, before they’re middle-aged. Of particular concern are knee injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

“ACLs, we can reconstruct them, and they will be out on the playing field again and do great,” said Matzkin, the Brigham and Women’s physician. “But 25 to 30 years from now, you will have degeneration in the knee.”


Just a couple of decades ago, it was rare to see ACL injuries in college athletes. Now, Matzkin said, it’s pretty common to see them in young teenagers, as young as 13, which means some may develop osteoarthritis in their knees in their early 30s.

Matzkin said the college athletes she sees tend to have coaches doing a better job of monitoring strength training and nutrition to help athletes adhere to proper techniques and avoid injuries. The problem, she said, is for younger athletes and their volunteer coaches, who may not have access to the same resources or information.

Matzkin and Salzler, the Tufts physician, recommend that young athletes take one day off a week from all sports to give their bodies a rest. They also suggest children try different sports to give overused parts of their bodies a break.

“Even if you are a runner or swimmer, find a day or two for another activity to build different muscles,” Salzler said.

Both specialists say proper strength training, such as squats or lunges, are fine for athletes as young as 7 or 8, but caution against weight lifting and resistance training until a child’s growth plates are closed, typically around age 13 or 14. Both physicians also advise youngsters to rest if they feel an injury coming on, and seek medical attention if the pain persists more than a week.


Haley Lewis, who is starting her junior year in Newton and wrapping up physical therapy for her knee injury, said her high school and club soccer teams are diligent about proper stretching and strength exercises before practices and games. Still, she has endured overuse injuries because, she said, she compensates when playing through her pain, placing more weight on the other side of her body and getting injured, again.

Her physical therapist has cautioned her to come back slowly, and has not cleared her to play soccer again for at least another two weeks. Lewis can’t imagine not playing soccer someday. But she realizes college competition is a long shot.

“I am just enjoying it for now, and I don’t want it to be ruined for me,” Lewis said. “I want to be a healthy person when I’m older and go to the gym.”



New Definition for Damaged Bats Highlights High School Softball Rules Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Contact: Sandy Searcy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (June 27, 2019) —A new definition for a damaged bat is one of three high school softball rules changes for the 2020 season.

The three rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee at its June 10-12 meeting in Indianapolis were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

A damaged bat will now be defined as a bat that was once legal, but is broken, cracked, dented, rattles or has sharp edges that might deface the ball (Rules 1-5-1, 7-4-2, 2-4-3).

Previously, a damaged bat was considered an illegal bat, with the penalty being an out when the batter entered the batter’s box. Now, damaged bats are simply removed from the game without penalty.

“This rule defines damaged bats and distinguishes them from non-approved and altered bats,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Softball Rules Committee. “The committee clarified the course of action that should be taken when a damaged bat is discovered in the game.”

Additionally, in Rule 1-5-1, the USA Softball All Games certification mark is now acceptable on bats. The new mark is in addition to the current ASA 2000 and ASA 2004 certification marks. Bats must bear one of these three marks and must not be listed on USA Softball’s Non-Approved Bats With Certification Marks, a list that is available on

“Bats bearing the 2000 and 2004 certification marks are still permissible, provided they meet specifications in Rule 1-5-1 and do not appear on USA Softball’s Non-Approved Bats with Certification Marks list,” Searcy said.

Another rules change is an adjustment to Rule 6-1-1 regarding fast-pitch pitching regulations. Pitchers must now take a position with the pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate. Previously, pitchers were required to have the pivot foot on or partially on the top surface of the pitcher’s plate.

“The change allows for different styles of pitching and permits them to place their feet where pitchers feel most comfortable,” Searcy said. “The rule now clarifies that part of the foot must simply be in contact with the pitcher’s plate.”

The final change is a tweak to Rule 9-1-1 involving the scoring of runs. Under Exception “C,” a run is not scored when the third out is obtained by a preceding runner who is declared out on an appeal play. Previously, the rule only covered runners who were declared out for failing to touch one of the bases.

“There are two types of appeal plays that can be affected in this exception: failing to touch one of the bases and leaving the base too soon on a fly ball that is caught,” Searcy said. “The previous rule did not include both scenarios. The use of the phrase ‘a runner who is declared out on an appeal play’ addresses both situations.”


INDIANAPOLIS, IN (June 27, 2019) — The expansion of exchange zones in short relay events, which does not require tracks to be repainted/resurfaced, as well as assisting injured athletes, are among the rules changes for high school track and field and cross country.

Seven rules changes were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee at its June 10-12 meeting in Indianapolis, and all changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The first change amends notes in Rule 4 (Competitors and Competition) and Rule 8 (Cross Country) which reads, “A competitor who provides assistance to an injured or ill competitor should not be disqualified if neither the individual competitor providing the assistance nor his/her team gains an advantage as a result of providing the assistance.”

“Previous changes to the NFHS rules created the exception that allows a competitor to assist an injured or ill competitor without being disqualified when medical staff is not present,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field/Cross Country Rules Committee. “In a clear majority of these types of situations, the action is intended to be an act of good sportsmanship and not an attempt to circumvent the rules or gain an advantage.”

While the injured or ill competitor is disqualified for receiving help, the competitor helping will not be disqualified, unless that competitor – or his/her team – gains an advantage. In all cases, the final decision rests with the meet referee, who has the sole authority to rule on infractions, irregularities and disqualifications in a meet.

Changes to Rules 5-3-3 and 5-3-4 expand the exchange zone in relays with legs of 200 meters or less from 20 to 30 meters. All exchange zones for races with legs longer than 200 meters will remain at 20 meters.

“The acceleration zone is now incorporated into the existing exchange zone, thus a 30-meter exchange zone for relay races with legs of 200 meters or less,” Cochran said. “The rule change does not require that tracks be repainted or resurfaced in order to follow the new NFHS rules. Existing acceleration zone markings, such as triangles, squares or colored tape, placed at that location may be used to denote the beginning of the exchange zones on a track.”

Rule 6-2-6 has been amended to prohibit athletes from running backwards or in the opposite direction (non-legal direction) during warm-ups on horizontal jumps, pole vault and javelin runways.

“This change promotes a more organized and efficient warm-up period,” Cochran said. “Competitors should now be more aware of their surroundings.”

Two changes to Rule 6 provide equivalent metric increments for tiebreaking jump-offs in vertical jumps, as well as clarify distance requirements for long jump and triple jump pits. For long jump and triple jump pits constructed after 2019, the length of the pit shall be at least 23 feet (seven meters).

In cross country, Rule 8-1-1 has been reorganized to clarify that a cross country course may be marked with any or all methods listed in the rule.

An additional change to cross country rules adds language to Rule 8-1-3 regarding straightaways at the start of a course. The change provides a recommended minimum distance of 100 meters for beginning straightaways, and states that no narrow section of a course should be longer than 10 feet (three meters) long. Small cones of the appropriate color, at least 12 inches (30 centimeters) high, are also now permitted to be used in lieu of painted lines or survey chalk.




INDIANAPOLIS, IN (June 27, 2019) — The role of the designated hitter in high school baseball has been expanded to give coaches an additional option for the 2020 season.

The revision to Rule 3-1-4 was the only change recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. The change was subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The game is in the best shape it has ever been in the history of high school baseball,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee. “This has allowed coaches to coach, players to play and umpires to umpire. This change, which was organic and intuitive, expands the role of the designated hitter and meets the desires of the high school baseball community.”

There are now two scenarios in which a designated hitter may be used.

The first scenario is the traditional use where the designated hitter may be a 10th starter who hits for any one of the nine starting defensive players. The team begins the game with 10 starters: nine defensive players and nine hitters in the batting order, one of whom is the designated hitter hitting for a defensive player.

“The traditional designated hitter role remains intact,” Hopkins said. “However, the committee felt it was necessary to make an additional option available to coaches that could be strategic but also maximize participation.”

The change to Rule 3-1-4 now allows the starting designated hitter to also be a starting defensive player. Utilizing this option, the player has two positions: defensive player and designated hitter. The team would begin the game with nine starters -- nine defensive players -- one of whom also assumes the role of the designated hitter.

“With the change adding pitch-count restrictions to high school baseball, this will allow pitchers to remain in the game as a hitter while removing them from pitching,” Hopkins said. “Typically, pitchers are stronger hitters as well. However, the intent of the rule is not for it to become strictly a pitcher-designated hitter role. The rule provides additional avenues for other position players as well. The change allows coaches to strategize how to keep players in the game to contribute offensively while allowing another player a chance to participate on defense.”

Additionally, a prior rules change involving baseballs and chest and body protectors will take effect on January 1, 2020. As of that date, all baseballs and chest and body protectors used in high school baseball competition shall meet the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standard at the time of manufacture.


Several Equipment Changes Highlight High School Basketball Rules Changes 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Contact: Theresia Wynns

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 15, 2019) — Five of the seven rules changes in high school basketball concern player equipment, including new uniform provisions that will be required in the 2024-25 season.

All seven rules revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Basketball Rules Committee at its April 23-25 meeting in Indianapolis were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. 

Effective with the 2024-25 season, the number on the jersey can no longer be the same color as the jersey itself. Currently, the number can be the same color as the jersey if it is bordered by a contrasting color. Despite the contrasting-color border, the committee said the number is still difficult to see in many cases. The other two options in Rule 3-4-3e regarding the color of the number remain in effect.

A five-year implementation date was approved to allow schools time to budget for purchasing new uniforms. 

Four other changes were approved in Rule 3 – Players, Substitutes and Equipment. A new rule, 3-5-8, provides recommendations for use of a mouthguard. Though not required, the committee noted that state associations may deem a tooth and mouth protector required equipment.

A note was added to Rule 3-5-5 to permit folding or rolling the shorts at the natural waistband seam. The new language does state that the shorts have to be in compliance with Rule 3-4-5, which restricts uniform pants/skirts to one visible manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference.

Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials and liaison to the Basketball Rules Committee, said this addition to Rule 3-5-5 modernizes the rule and allows players to adjust the shorts in a manner that serves no harm to the game or its integrity.

The other equipment changes deal with headbands and hair-control devices in Rule 3-5-4. The maximum width of the headband was expanded from 2 inches to 3 inches to be consistent with the rules for volleyball and accommodate athletes who play both sports. In addition, in 3-5-4d, hair-control devices are not required to meet color restrictions. Wynns noted that a hair-control device goes around the hair only, while a headband goes around the entire head.    

In another change, assistant coaches now will be able to go onto the court with the head coach in an effort to restore order when a fight breaks out among players.

“It can be difficult for officials to separate players involved in a fight on the court,” Wynns said. “This change will allow assistant coaches to enter the court with the head coach to assist officials in regaining control of the situation and restoring player safety.”

The final change approved by the Basketball Rules Committee is a change in the signal when a held ball occurs. Now, when a held ball occurs, the covering official(s) shall stop the clock using Signal #2 (straight arm, open palm extended) while simultaneously sounding the whistle.  

“This change should help to alleviate conflicting calls by officials when a held ball occurs,” Wynns said. “We currently raise one arm to stop the clock for everything except the jump/held ball.”



INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 22, 2019) — Effective with the 2019-20 high school season, a legal finish now requires the competitor to contact either the touchpad or the finish end coinciding with the individual stroke of the race. With this change, swimmers can legally complete a race by touching the finish end (end wall), regardless of whether the touchpad is activated.

            This rules revision, which affects the finish of all strokes used in swimming, was one of two swimming and four diving changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 24-26 meeting in Indianapolis. All recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. 

            Rule 8-1-7 now will require swimmers to contact the finish end in the manner prescribed by the individual strokes. Descriptions of the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle finishes in Rule 8-2 state that a legal finish requires contact with either the touchpad or the finish end.

            As a result of these changes, a swimmer will no longer be disqualified if the touchpad is not activated in races using automatic-timing systems.

            “This change allows for situations in which pools do not have touchpads that stretch the entire width of the lane, or in cases where the touchpad is not activated when the competitor finishes the race,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “In those cases, the competitor legally finishes the race by contacting the finish end.” 

            The other major swimming rules change involved the protocol for uniform violations, which involved reorganization of Rule 3-3 to specify the penalty protocol for uniform violations. While the penalties associated with an illegal uniform did not change, a new process for communicating any violations to the competitor was approved.

            Effective with the 2019-20 season, when an official discovers a competitor wearing illegal attire specifically dealing with suit coverage as described in Rule 3-3-2, the official shall notify the coach of the competitor to make the attire legal before he or she is eligible to compete – if the uniform violation is observed prior to the start of the heat/dive. If the competitor cannot comply without delaying the start of the heat/dive, the competitor is disqualified from the event/dive and is not eligible for further competition until the attire is made legal.

            Previously, the official notified the competitor directly when illegal attire was discovered; now the official will notify the coach of the competitor.        

             “The penalty associated with this rule was written to provide clear indication that the coach of the competitor should be notified when a violation of this nature has occurred,” Searcy said. “In the case of suit construction and cap violations, for practicality and concerns over delay of the meet, the officials may communicate with either the competitor or coach.”

            Among the four diving rules changes was a change in degree of difficulty in the diving table in Rule 9-4. In a risk-minimization change, the degree of difficulty for back and reverse double somersaults was lowered to match back and reverse 1½ somersaults. This change is consistent with the degree of difficulty assessed to back and reverse dives versus back and reverse somersaults.

            In Rule 9-5-6, descriptions of diving positions were adjusted to maintain consistency with national trends. Language has been updated to clarify requirements of the straight, pike, tuck and free positions.

            In Rule 9-7-4, the following Note was approved: “In a championship meet, the diving referee may consult with a designated member of the judging panel concerning a possible unsatisfactory dive.”

            “The addition of this Note is consistent with the diving referee’s capability of consulting with a designated member of the judging panel concerning a possible failed dive,” Searcy said. “Because of the severity of the penalty and the judging panels seated on opposite sides of the pool or spread out on one side covering 10-12 feet along the side of the pool, providing the option for the referee to consult with another member of the panel to determine if a dive is satisfactory is appropriate.”

            Rule 9-1-3 regarding a fulcrum was updated to comply with industry standards. Searcy said the change aligns with current diving board manufacturers’ installation directions.


INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 26, 2019) — Rules related to improperly equipped players and procedures for dropping the ball are among eight rules changes in high school soccer for the 2019-20 season.

The rules changes were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee at its January 28-30 meeting and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“While there are not any substantial revisions to the rules this year, I believe coaches and players will be pleased with the changes we have made,” said Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education.

Rule 4-3 will now specify that an improperly equipped player will not require teams to play shorthanded. The improperly equipped player will be asked to leave the field when the ball is not in play if the issue cannot be resolved immediately on the field, and the player may be replaced.

Once the offending player is properly equipped, he or she can report to an official. If the player was not replaced, he or she may re-enter the game at a dead ball. Infringement of the rule will not cause the game to be stopped unless a referee determines the situation is dangerous.

The rule was changed because the penalty for an improperly equipped player was more severe than the punishment for illegal equipment. The rule change ensures both infractions are handled equally.

With regard to the dropping of the ball in Rule 9-2-3, any number of players, including the goalkeeper, may now contest a dropped ball, and the referee cannot decide who may contest a dropped ball or determine its outcome.

Two new articles were added to Rule 9-2 to further clarify a dropped ball. Article 5 states the ball should be dropped again if it touches a player before hitting the ground or if it leaves the field after hitting the ground without touching a player. Article 6 states that if a dropped ball enters the goal without touching at least two players, the play must be restarted with a goal kick if it entered the opponent’s goal or a corner kick if it entered the team’s own goal.

Rule 9-2-1c was amended to remove the provision that if a team is in clear possession of the ball, the game will not be restarted with a drop ball. The rule now states the only time a game will not be restarted with a drop ball following temporary suspension of a player, injury or unusual circumstances is when the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball.

A change to Rule 9-3 eliminates free kick opportunities by replacing an indirect free kick with a drop ball if the ball was not in the goal area and in possession of the goalkeeper during cases of temporary suspension due to injury or an unusual situation.

An addition was made in Rule 3-4-3 to state that the clock should be stopped when the leading team makes a substitution within the last five minutes of the second period. The new rule is meant to prevent coaches in the lead from wasting time and running the clock when no plays are being made.

The final change was to Rule 5-3-1d that now allows officials to call out “play on” with an underswing of one or both arms.

“Our game is in pretty good shape,” Wynns said. “There will be a few changes this particular year, but the rules revisions that have been made will not change the game for the most part.”

2019-20 High School Volleyball Rules Changes Impact Uniforms, Prematch Protocol



INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 11, 2019) — In an effort to establish a more consistent time period between downs in high school football, the play clock will start at 40 seconds instead of 25 seconds in many cases beginning with the 2019 season.

This change was one of seven rules revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 13-15 meeting in Indianapolis, which were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The play clock will continue to start at 25 seconds (a) prior to a try following a score, (b) to start a period or overtime series, (c) following administration of an inadvertent whistle, (d) following a charged time-out, (e) following an official’s time-out, with a few exceptions, and (f) following the stoppage of the play clock by the referee for any other reason. In all other cases, 40 seconds will be placed on the play clock and start when the ball is declared dead by a game official.

Previously, the ball was marked ready-for-play when, after it had been placed for a down, the referee gave the ready-for-play signal and the 25-second count began. Beginning next season, in addition to the above situations when the 25-second count is used, the ball will also be ready for play when, starting immediately after the ball has been ruled dead by a game official after a down, the ball has been placed on the ground by the game official and the game official has stepped away to position.

“The entire committee needs to be commended for its thorough discussion regarding the move to a 40-second play clock, except in specific situations that will still have a 25-second play clock to show play is ready to begin,” said Todd Tharp, assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee. “This is one of the most substantial game administration rules changes to be approved in the past 10 years, and without detailed experimentation from several state associations over the past three years, along with cooperation of the NFHS Football Game Officials Manual Committee, all the elements needed to approve this proposal would not have been in place. 

Another significant change approved by the committee was the addition of a note to Rule 1-3-7 to permit state associations to create instant-replay procedures for state postseason contests only. This revision would allow game or replay officials to use a replay monitor during state postseason contests to review decisions by the on-field game officials. Use of a replay monitor would be on a state-by-state adoption basis, and the methodology for reviewing calls would be determined by the applicable state association.  

 “The ultimate goal of each game official and each officiating crew is to get the call correct,” Tharp said. “Each state association, by individual adoption, can now use replay or video monitoring during its respective postseason contests to review decisions by the on-field game officials.  Each state association, if it adopts this rules revision, will also create the parameters and scope of the replay.”

With regard to uniforms, the NFHS Football Rules Committee clarified the size requirements for numbers on jerseys through the 2023 season and added a new requirement effective with the 2024 season. Clarifications to Rule 1-5-1c (in bold) that are in effect through the 2023 state that the numbers, inclusive of any border, shall be centered horizontally at least 8 inches and 10 inches high on front and back, respectively. In addition, the entire body of the number (the continuous horizontal bars and vertical strokes) exclusive of any border(s) shall be approximately 1½-inches wide. Finally, through the 2023 season, the body of the number (the continuous horizontal bars and vertical strokes) shall be either: (a) a continuous color(s) contrasting with the jersey color; or (b) the same color(s) as the jersey with a minimum of one border that is at least ¼-inch in width of a single solid contrasting color.

Effective with the 2024 season, the entire body of the number (the continuous horizontal bars and vertical strokes) of the number shall be a single solid color that clearly contrasts with the body color of the jersey.

“The purpose of numbers on jerseys is to provide clear identification of players,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine and staff liaison to the NFHS Football Rules Committee. “In order to enhance the ability to easily identify players, the committee has clarified the size requirements for jersey numbers through the 2023 season and added a new requirement for the 2024 season.”

Two changes were approved by the committee in an effort to reduce the risk of injury in high school football. First, tripping the runner is now prohibited. Beginning next season, it will be a foul to intentionally use the lower leg or foot to obstruct a runner below the knees. Previously, a runner was not included in the definition of tripping. Second, in Rule 9-4-3k, the “horse-collar” foul was expanded to include the name-plate area, which is directly below the back collar. Colgate said grabbing the name-plate area of the runner’s jersey, directly below the back collar, and pulling the runner to the ground is now an illegal personal contact foul.

A change in the definition of a legal scrimmage formation was approved. A legal scrimmage formation now requires at least five offensive players on their line of scrimmage (instead of seven) with no more than four backs. The committee noted that this change will make it easier to identify legal and illegal offensive formations.

The final change approved by the NFHS Football Rules Committee for the 2019 season was a reduction in the penalty for illegally kicking or batting the ball from 15 yards to 10 yards. 




INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 1, 2019) — An overhaul of uniform-related rules and an adjustment to team roster submissions were among the most notable rules changes identified for the 2019-20 high school volleyball season.

All rules changes were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Volleyball Rules Committee at its January 6-8 meeting in Indianapolis and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The sport of volleyball continues to be in a really good place,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee. “The rules committee focused its changes this year on improving the administration of the match by taking into account the feedback it received via the 2018 NFHS Volleyball Rules Questionnaire.”

The changes in uniform rules are a part of Rule 4-2, which reorganizes the uniform rule to improve understanding and eliminate solid-colored uniform requirements.

Rule 4-2-1, which permits teammates to wear like-colored uniform pieces, was expanded to include all uniforms and involves nine guidelines.

Rule 4-2-1a states that all uniform tops (with the exception of the libero, as noted in Rule 4-2-2) and bottoms shall be like-colored. Rule 4-2-1e permits the top and/or bottom of all uniforms to include the school’s name, nickname, logo, mascot and/or team member’s name. In doing so, a single mascot reference and/or school name may be placed on the sleeve(s), and shall not exceed either 4 inches by 4 inches or 3 inches by 5 inches.

“The rules committee was very deliberate and measured in their language choices to ensure that all currently compliant libero and team uniforms will be compliant under the new rule,” Atkinson said. “The committee believes that this new rule will, in fact, be easier to apply and require less policing by both officials and state associations.”

In Rule 4-2-2, the libero’s uniform must clearly contrast from the predominant color(s) of the team uniform top, excluding trim. The libero’s uniform top cannot be made up solely of the same predominant color(s) of the team’s uniform top, even if the like color(s) are placed differently on the uniform top. Furthermore, numbers shall meet all specifications in Rule 4-2-4, which removes the option for players to wear No. 00 to eliminate confusion surrounding the signaling of the number.

Beginning July 1, 2023, a plain, Arabic numeral of a solid, clearly contrasting color from the body of the uniform will be required. The change eliminates the use of a border to create the number contrast, therefore, allowing officials and scorers to easily identify uniforms numbers while aligning the rule with that of other rules codes.

In dealing with the submission of team rosters, sections of Rules 5-7 were modified to eliminate warmup interruptions by officials requesting rosters with 10 minutes remaining on the warmup clock. The change creates a smoother warmup process for coaches, players and officials.

Rules 5-5-1b, 5-6-1b and 7-1-1a clarified the specific duties of the second referee, official scorer and coach during the prematch setting. Before the match, the second referee shall assist the first referee by collecting each team roster during the timed prematch conference and supervise the placement of the officials’ table and team benches.

As part of Rule 5-6-1b, the official scorer shall now also receive each team’s roster from the second referee at the conclusion of the prematch conference. In Rule 7-1-1a, a coach from each team shall submit in writing to the second referee an accurate roster with names and uniform numbers of all players during the timed prematch conference. Roster changes may be made until 10 minutes remain on the pregame clock.

“The logistical change of when, and to whom, the roster shall be submitted was again the result of questionnaire feedback,” Atkinson said. “In an effort to improve the flow of the prematch requirements, the committee felt that the submission of the roster as a part of the prematch conference, with the ability to make changes until 10 minutes remaining on the clock, allowed for a more efficient process and alleviated the scorer of the responsibility to collect team rosters.”

The committee made additional changes that impact officials, including aligning rules regarding the treatment by officials of a ball striking either the cables and/or the diagonal poles used to retract ceiling-suspended net systems. This change in Rules 2-3j, 2-4-1e and 2-4 PENALTY 3 treats cables and diagonal poles as restricted play at which time officials must determine if the ball was playable. The committee’s change to Rule 5-9-2 NOTE places the line judge in a more appropriate position to watch for foot contact with the end line, as well as allowing him or her to quickly transition back into position for a view of the sideline.

The final change involved the removal of Rule 8-2-6d and adoption of new Rule 8-2-5g, which establishes that a serve is illegal, and the ball remains dead, if the server tosses the ball for serve and the ball touches any part of a backboard or its supports hanging in a vertical position over the serving area and not a service fault.

A complete listing of the volleyball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Volleyball.”


Fall Section Champions:



























D-4   CVC