The Officiating Dictionary

from Referee Magazine, April 2021


  • Bag the spot – Using a beanbag to mark a spot.
  • Ball spotter – An umpire who simply places the ball and does no actual officiating.
  • Car Crash – Describing player contact on an onside kick.
  • Chain gang – The chain crew.
  • “Clock is hot”/”On the ready”/”Wind, wind, wind” – Game clock will run on the referee’s signal. A term used to communicate with the referee.
  • Clock stopper/Clock killer – A fourth-down play in NFHS and NCAA. The clock will stop regardless of the result of the play.
  • Double stakes/sticks – More than 10 yards to go for a first down.
  • “Five will get you ten”/”More than 5/Less than 5” – Alert to the referee the line-to-gain is five yards or few from the line of scrimmage. Thus a five-yard penalty on the defense will result in a first down.
  • O2O – Official to official communication through the use of radios.
  • This isn’t Saturday/Sunday”/”That’s a Saturday/Sunday rule” – An official’s response when a coach asks for a NFL rule to be applied during a high school or youth game. Should only be said when appropriate.
  • Train Wreck – Describing player contact foulds during the play that shouldn’t be missed by the officials.
  • Tumbleweed – A football official who gets knocked to the ground. Mostly officials at the NFHS and NCAA umpire position but applies to all.
  • White hat/Have the whistle – The official working the referee position. The crew chief.
  • Working the chains – The wing official who works with and directs the chain crew during a period.