Overview Of 2012 Football Rules Changes

August 24, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football, News 

Review of the 2012 football rules changes.

Kickoff and touchback starting line
Most football fans have already heard the news that kickoffs have been moved from the 30 yard line up to the 35 yard line. Also the kicking team’s players cannot line up any further than five yards away from the 35 yard line at the kick. The NCAA rules committee adopted this change in order to limit the running start kicking teams have during the play. They also voted to move the starting yard line for a touchback to the 25 yard line instead of the 20 yard line, which had been the starting spot for a very, very long time. This rules change was adopted to encourage more touchbacks.

Loss of Helmet During Play
The rules committee voted to treat the loss of a helmet during play, unless it was the result of a foul by the opponent, like an injury. If a player loses their helmet during the game, they will not be allowed to participate for the next play. Also, if a player loses his helmet during a play, he must not continue to participate in the play.

Blocking below the waist
The NCAA rules committee made a change last season that was meant to allow blocking below the waist when the opposing player is likely to be prepared for thsi contact. However that was not the case. Their clarification changed blocking below the waist is only allowed by offensive players in the tackle box at the snap that are not in motion. All other players will be restricted from blocking below the waist with a few exceptions such as straight ahead blocking.

Shield Blocking on Punts
The Rules committee reviewed several examples of shield blocking from last season. This new scheme has become more popular for teams. Viewers may have seen teams have players on the line of scrimmage and usually a line of three players half-way between the line and the punter. In several cases, the receiving team player who attempts to rush or block the punt will attempt to jump over this type of scheme. In some cases, these players were contacted and ended up flipping in the air and landing on their head or shoulders. They decided to adopt a rule similar to the leaping rule on place kicks. That rule on place kicks does not allow the receiving team to jump over blockers unless the player jumps straight up or between two players.

Additional protection to kick returners
Officials will have to interpret the rule that provides a one yard cushion to field the catch before the kicking team is allowed to make contact. This one yard cushion will only extend in front of the returners.

Bounty Program Education
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports which is responsible for overseeing NCAA health and safety rules, along with the NCAA Committee of Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct, dicussed the issue at their summer meetings. They reaffirmed the rules prohibiting such activity. Specifically they strictly prohibit the targeting of opponents with intent to injure and will not be tolerated. Any programs proven to be in violation of these rules will be held accountable by existing NCAA rules. NCAA members, and student-athletes are encouraged to anonymously report potential violations involving bounty programs.

Health guidelines for the start of football practice
Preseason football practices begin with a five-day acclimatization period that applies to all student-athletes, including those who start practicing after the first day.  Here is how the process is conducted:

  • All incoming student-athletes must undergo a medical examination administered by a physician prior to participating in any preseason workouts.
  • During the acclimatization period, participants are not to engage in more than one on-field practice per day which can last no more than three hours.
  • During the first two days of that period, helmets are the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.  After that, only helmets and shoulder pads may be worn on the third and fourth days of acclimatization.  On the final day of that period, and on any days thereafter, student-athletes may practice in full pads.

The remaining preseason practice period follows these steps:

  • Teams can practice in full pads after the five-day period. However, an institution may not conduct multiple on-field practice sessions (e.g., two-a-days or three-a-days) on consecutive days.
  • Student-athletes can not participate in more than three hours of on-field practice activities on the days in which one practice is permitted.
  • Student-athletes may not participate in more than five hours of on-field practice activities on the days in which more than one practice is permitted.
  • On days that teams conduct multiple practice sessions, student-athletes must be provided with at least three continuous hours of recovery time between the end of the first practice and the start of the last practice that day.  During this time, student-athletes may not attend any meetings or engage in other athletically related activities (e.g., weightlifting). Time spent receiving medical treatment and eating meals may be included as part of the recovery time.

General Guidelines For All Fall Sports
The NCAA recommended additional procedures to be followed as a best practices for fall sports.

  • Plan for a heat acclimatization period where student-athletes gradually increase exposure to hot, humid summer weather for a minimum of 10-14 days at the beginning of preseason activities. Activity during each exposure to heat should gradually increase in intensity and duration until the exercise is comparable to the exposure likely to be experienced in competition. During periods of intense heat, it is recommended that practices be scheduled during cooler times of the day.
  • Walk-through sessions are not considered practices during the preseason, but just like multiple practice days, student athletes should also be given a rest period of at least three hours between practice and the walk-through. During the walk-through, student-athletes should not wear any equipment related to the sport or perform conditioning exercises.
  • Student-athletes should not participate in practice sessions for more than six consecutive days. This includes any organized physical activity related to the sport, such as warm-ups, stretching, scrimmaging, weight lifting, fitness testing, conditioning, pilates, cool downs and non-medically related rehabilitation or captain’s practices.


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