General Instructions for Football Line-to-Gain Crews – 2018
The typical line-to-gain crew consists of at least three individuals – a down-marker indicator operator and two to hold the rods.
Unless otherwise possible by use of a fourth crew member, the down-marker indicator operator will attach the clip as specified.
In some cases where a fourth crew member is present, that member may also be requested to record penalties on a chart provided by the game officials.
It is recommended that the members of the crew wear distinctive vests or jackets furnished by home or game management.
Remind crew members that they are assistant officials, not fans.
1. The line-to-gain crew shall meet the HEAD LINESMAN on the sideline opposite the press box at least 15 minutes before game
time and also five minutes prior to the second-half kickoff. If an auxiliary down-marker indicator is used, the operator shall
meet the LINE JUDGE on the press-box side at the same time.
2. The HEAD LINESMAN shall make certain that the official line-to-gain and down-marker indicators have been placed opposite
the press box or on the designated sideline and that all are in good working order and conform to the rules. The LINE JUDGE
shall make certain that the auxiliary down-marker indicator is in good working order and is placed on the opposite side of the
field from the line-to-gain crew.
3. The complete concentration of the crew is absolutely necessary if crew members are to discharge their duties efficiently. The
crew must refrain from showing any partisan reaction to the events taking place on the playing field. The crew must be
prepared to act immediately on instructions from the HEAD LINESMAN so that teams and all concerned will know the exact
situation concerning the down and yards to be gained. The crew shall not move or change the number of the down until
signaled to do so by the HEAD LINESMAN. The auxiliary down-marker indicator operator shall act only on instructions from the
LINE JUDGE. The crew must remain impartial and may not communicate down and distance information to members of the
coaching staff or team.
4. While serving on the line-to-gain crew, the crew should refrain from using items that would distract them from their
responsibility (i.e. using electronic devices).
1. On the HEAD LINESMAN’S signal, the crew shall move as quickly as possible to the next position.
2. When a runner or pass receiver is going out of bounds in the immediate vicinity, the involved crew member is to quickly and
carefully drop the marker and move away from the sideline, keeping his/her eye on the spot of the marker. The crew members
away from the play should hold their positions if possible.
3. The HEAD LINESMAN will set the spot of all first downs by going to the sidelines and marking, while facing the field, the exact
spot where the rear stake will be set. The front crew member will then be sure the chain is fully extended before setting his/her
4. The DOWN-MARKER INDICATOR OPERATOR, on every new series of downs, will set the down-marker indicator at the spot
marked by the HEAD linesman. When the line-to-gain equipment is moved, the rear rod is to be set behind the down-marker indicator and then the clip shall be placed at the back edge of the 5-yard line nearest the rear rod. The down-marker indicator
must be held at all times in an upright position with the down correctly shown.
5. The DOWN-MARKER INDICATOR OPERATOR is to show the number of the down just completed and shall not indicate the new
down until so notified by the HEAD LINESMAN. On instruction from the HEAD LINESMAN, the DOWN-MARKER INDICATOR
OPERATOR will move the down-marker indicator to a new position with the marker indicator placed at the forward point of the
ball and change the marker indicator to the correct down.
6. On all measurements for first down when the chain is moved onto the field, the DOWN-MARKER INDICATOR OPERATOR is to
place his/her marker indicator at the spot of the front rod until a new series of downs is declared or the chain is returned to its
7. The chain is not extended if it is a first-and-goal situation. The HEAD LINESMAN should provide the DOWN-MARKER
INDICATOR OPERATOR a bean bag in this situation to mark location of the box in case it is moved during the down.
8. The DOWN-MARKER INDICATOR OPERATOR should place the marker indicator on the line of scrimmage on all try situations.
This will aid players and officials in determining the line of scrimmage on all plays toward the sideline. The chain will not be placed on a try.
9. If the sidelines become crowded and the crew does not have room to efficiently discharge its duties, the crew is to notify the
HEAD LINESMAN immediately so that a time-out may be called and sidelines cleared before the game will be allowed to proceed.
10. If the game is delayed for any reason, the crew will stay with the game officials.
11. The official line-to-gain and down-marker indicators shall be operated approximately 2 yards outside the sideline opposite
the press box, except in stadiums where the total playing enclosure does not permit. Unofficial auxiliary line-to-gain and downmarker
indicators may be used on the sideline opposite the official line-to-gain and down-marker indicators, and shall be
operated approximately 2 yards outside the sideline, except in stadiums where the total playing enclosure does not permit. All
indicators shall be operated as far off the sideline (up to 2 yards) as facilities permit and as directed by the HEAD LINESMAN
and LINE JUDGE.