Football Referee Hand Signals


What’s on the photo is futsal, not football. That’s the time when our block had our finals in our PE course which is all about the game we are playing there. If you still don’t know what that is, then you’re lucky you’re here because a new sport will be added to your knowledge. Well, futsal is just an indoor version of football. According to our PE professor, futsal and football are just similar except for the area where it is played. That means that both sports has the same rules, fouls and violations. That also means that they have the same way of communication, or what we call, hand signals for the officials. Yes, that’s what we will be discussing today. Let me share the football referee hand signals that I learned from my class.


Ball ready for play

ball ready for play

At the beginning of the game, you will see the referee raising his right hand while his index finger his pointing upward and moving it in a circular motion. This is the signal that the ball is ready for play.




If the players request for timeout, either discretionary or injury timeout, the referee will raise his both hands in a cross position, moving it to his side down to his shoulder level and repeating the steps. This is followed by tapping his hands on his chest.


Start Clock

start clock

When the time stopped due to timeouts and such and the referee has to start the clock again, you will see the referee circling his right arm with closed hand on the same side.




When a ball carrier is tackled in his own end zone after bringing the ball there under his own power, this will lead to the football term, safety. The referee will put his both hands together touching the palms on the top of his head.


Fist Down

fist down

The first chance out of 4 that a team on offense has to advance 10 yards down the field. As soon as it gains those yards, it earns a new first down. When this happen, the referee will move his right hand down in front leveling on his shoulder from the top.




Touchdown is when a team crosses the opponent’s goal line with the ball, catches a pass in the opponent’s end zone, or recovers a loose ball in the opponent’s end zone. It is also when the referee raises both his hands with palms facing each other.


Sideline Warning

sideline warning

This signal is done by completely extending both hands to each side and parallel to the ground. From this position the referee will move his both hands to his front. This is used to warn the sideline personnel that they are spilling out of the team area and getting in the official’s way.




If a player, beside the center, is in the neutral zone and contact occurs prior to the snap, enroachment will occur, a foul punishable by a 5-yard penalty. you will see the referee having a pose with his both hands on his waist.


Touch Back

touch back

This is when a player who gains possession of a ball in his own end zone kneels to the ground and automatically starts the next play at his own 20-yard line. The referee will raise his right hand with palms facing forward and moving it side to side. This is also the signal for dead ball foul.


Delay of Game

delay of game

An offensive team is penalized five yards for delay of game if it fails to put the ball in play by either snap or free kick before the play clock expires. The referee will cross both his arms with palms touching the opposite side of the chest.

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