British American Football Association BAFA Rules Committee

BAFA Rules Committee

Frequently asked questions

The following points are intended to clarify interpretation of the temproary rule changes introduced due to COVID-19.

How can my team legally "huddle"?

The rule prohibiting intentional breaches of social distancing guidelines is not intended to prohibit teams from clustering together to give signals or "call the play". Its primary purpose is to prohibit players, coaches and others confronting opponents or officials in an unsafe way.

However, we do expect teams to organise their huddles in a COVID-safe way, for example by:

  • the players keeping a social distance (>2m) from each other, or if they do come closer,
  • doing so for no more than a few seconds

We appreciate that offensive huddles are normally close-knit so that the play caller does not have to raise their voice to a volume that the defense can hear. If players are socially distanced, and the caller's voice consequently has to be louder, it should normally be possible to hold the huddle slightly further from the line of scrimmage to reduce the risk of being overheard. Having the play caller face away from the defense would also help.

A possible arrangement for a huddle that maintains social distancing is:

      Q
x           x
   x  x  x  
x           x
  x  x  x  x

The change to the field markings recommends moving the coaching box and team are line further back from the sideline.

Does that apply to the limit lines as well?

Yes it does. The limit lines should be a further 6-18 feet beyond the back of the team areas, if space permits.

Away from the team areas, the limit lines should be 36 feet (rather than the normal 18) outside the sidelines and end lines.

If space is restricted, do your best, but try to ensure spectators are not closer to the field of play or end zones than 36 feet (12 yards). As always, spectators must be kept well clear of the team areas and areas occupied by the officials, chain crew or ball persons.

Do personnel in the team area and on the sidelines need to wear a face covering?

On 19th June 2021 we revised our guidance to make face coverings "recommended" rather than required. This reflects current government guidance.

A face covering is recommended to be worn whenever close to other people for a prolonged time, or in crowded outside areas and other situations where 2-metre physical distancing is not always possible (unless you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering as per government guidance).

This also applies to officials' assistants (chain crew and ball persons).

Because of the distance between them, it should not be an issue if one team chooses to have its personnel wear face coverings and the other does not. Team area personnel should always remain socially distanced from officials and officials' assistants.