Rules, changes & interpretations

Rules are constantly evolving. For the current official rulebooks, consult the appropriate federation website.

National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) http://www.nfhs.org/track.aspx

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rules



An excellent resource for rules books can be found at http://www.usatf.org/groups/officials/resources/rules/. Included are USATF, IAAF, NCAA and NFHS.

(Patrick Bendzick photo/MileSplitMass.com)

NCAA released rules changes, rationales

posted Sep 5, 2016, 8:38 AM by Paul Williams   [ updated Sep 5, 2016, 8:38 AM ]

NCAA has released Rules Changes for the coming year. They are posted below or can be access at http://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/2016DIMTF_Rules_Changes_20160727.pdf.


2017 track and field rules changes and rationales released by NFHS

posted Aug 11, 2016, 9:10 AM by Paul Williams   [ updated Aug 11, 2016, 9:11 AM ]

 

NFHS has released the 2017 track and field rules changes and rationales. 

The NFHS 2017 Rule changes are also available at http://nfhs.org/media/1017125/2017-major-rules-changes-with-rationales-final.pdf 



2017 Track and Field Rules Changes

3-2-4u New

 

Places the responsibility of providing liquids during competition on the games committee, not the individual coaches.

Rationale: The games committee should have responsibility for providing liquids during the race and not leave up to each coach. 

3-6-1

3-4-7

The signal at the beginning of the last lap in individual races now occurs in race distances of two laps or more.

Rationale: Signifying with a bell with one lap remaining in the 800 alerts timers, place judges and FAT operators on notice, builds excitement for spectators and is a positive signal for the competitors. Updates to current trends in the sport.

3-6-1

Clarifies that a runner is disqualified by the starter when charged with a false start.

Rationale: The authority to disqualify a runner for a false start should be extended by rule to the starter as well as the referee.

3-10-7

 

Clarifies the mechanics used to confirm the result of an attempt when flags are not utilized by calling “fair” or “foul”.

Rationale: Clarifies field event judge’s protocol for signifying the performance result when flags are not being utilized.

4-3-1b(5)

9-6-1b(4)

 

Allows the placement of one American flag on each item of uniform apparel and deletes NOTE restricting flag placement.

Rationale: Remove NOTE limiting the placement of the American flag to one piece of uniform apparel as this is contradictory to the rule.

4-6-5g New

 

Adds receiving physical aid by any other person during a race to the list of unfair acts of assisting a competitor.

Rationale: The rule should include coverage of the actions of competitors and nonparticipating team members as well as assistance/aid from other parties.

4-6-5d, New e

9-7

 

A participant assisting an injured/ill competitor when an appropriate health-care professional is not available is no longer disqualified.

Rationale: Although uncommon that appropriate health-care professionals are not available to assist an injured/ill competitor, there may be occasions when a competitor is needing assistance to confirm his/her health status or to arrive to a location for health care. Should another competitor assist, such competitor shall not be disqualified, only the assisted competitor shall be disqualified for not completing the race unassisted. Reorganize rule to indicate why competitor is disqualified.

5-1-3

 

Establishes the location and spacing of cones, when used, in the absence of a curb.  

Rationale: In the absence of a curb, the placement of cones ensures the competitors run the prescribed race distance.

5-6-4

 

Deletes the requirement of separating competitors from the same team if they were to be in the same heat in the first round of competition.

Rationale: The results of running events are based on head-to-head competition and all contestants should have the opportunity to compete in the heat earned by the athlete’s place and/or qualifying times. Consistent with current trends in the sport.


5-7-3

 

Competitors in distance races (800m and greater distances) use only a standing start, remaining motionless for the start without their hand(s) touching the ground.

Rationale: Consistent with current trends in the sport. Reinforces the concept that distance races (800, 1600 or 3200) only use a standing start.

Rules 6 and 7

 

Reorganizes rules 6 and 7 into one rule “Field Events” to avoid duplicity in the rules, remove unnecessary language, be more concise in the presentation of the events rules and create a section on general rules for all field events.

Rationale: To combine all of the field event rules into one rule thereby eliminating the possibility of making a change in the throws and missing it in the jumps. Also eliminates duplication of definitions in the rules and unnecessary language.

6-2-14

7-2-5

 

Warm-ups in a field event shall not take place until the venue is declared open by the meet director and required supervision is in place. Once competition begins, except as scheduled, competitors shall not use venues or implements associated with the competition for warm-ups.

Rationale: For purposes of risk management, warm-ups in a field event may not take place until the venue is declared open and required supervision is in place. For further risk minimization for athletes, spectators, and officials involved in the event, athletes should be prohibited from picking up an implement and doing turns while other competitors are completing their throws or using the runway during the competition unless they have been called for their attempt.

6-2-17

 

Includes how trials are recorded when a legal implement breaks during competition within the rule and deletes as a NOTE.

Rationale: Clarifies how trials are recorded when a legal implement breaks during competition. More appropriate to list within rule rather than a NOTE.

6-5-9e

 

Clarifies that it is a foul if a competitor touches the top or end of the stopboard before leaving the circle.

Rationale: The top or sides of the stopboard are outside of the ring and touching outside of the ring is not compliant with leaving from the back half of the circle and is a foul.

8-2-1

 

Special events which may be included in the order of competition shall be conducted under USATF Youth event rules unless state association policy determines otherwise.

Rationale: The NFHS rules allow several special events to be added to the order of events but no specific event rules are written. By utilizing USATF Youth event rules there are standard rules which are age appropriate. However, state associations may already have appropriate rules in place and this should be an option stated in the rules.


9-1-3b

 

Clarifies that directional sign posts can be used with or in place of directional flags in cross country.

Rationale: Clarifies that either directional flags and/or sign posts shall be used in cross country.

10-2-2
3-17-2

 

Clarifies where to place the wind gauge in the horizontal jumps when there are

multiple takeoff boards used in the competition.

Rationale: Officials need guidance as to where to place the wind gauge when there are multiple takeoff boards. As the rule is currently written, it implies either having to move the wind gauge between jumps or having a second gauge. As the better jumpers will most likely use the farther board, it is logical to have the wind gauge at the location furthest from the pit.

 

 

 

2017 Major Editorial Changes

3-4-4

 

Clarifies the referee has the sole authority for ruling on irregularities not covered within the rules.

7-4-8

 

Clarifies the three consecutive passed heights must take place before the competitor attempts a jump.

7-5-15

 

Clarifies when the two minutes of warm-up jumps are permitted when a competitor has passed three consecutive heights with no attempted jump.

 

 

 

2017 Editorial Changes

4-6-1 NOTE 1, 4-6-1 NOTE 2, 5-10-9, 5-10-11, 7-5-11, 7-6-10f

 

 

 

2017 Points of Emphasis

1. Sportsmanship
2. Heat Acclimatization and Preventing Heat Illness 3. Use of Rubber Discus in Practice and Competition 4. NFHS Track and Field Uniform Regulations


Track & field/cross country rules changes include assisting injured competitor

posted Jul 15, 2016, 6:02 AM by Paul Williams

Effective with the 2017 high school track and field season, a participant who assists an injured/ill competitor shall not be disqualified if an appropriate health-care professional is not available. 

The NFHS Board of Directors recently approved all rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field Rules Committee at its June 13-15 meeting in Indianapolis.

Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee, said the committee determined that this act of sportsmanship extended to an injured/ill competitor when a health-care professional is not readily available should not result in a penalty. 

“The committee wanted to recognize the importance of appropriate healthcare of an ill/injured competitor as well as recognize that at times there may be fellow competitors who may need to assist others who cannot continue,” Oakes said. “Therefore, the committee felt that disqualification shouldn’t be the result of a sportsmanship act.”

To be consistent with current sport trends, the committee revised Rule 5-7-3, which reinforces the concept that competitors in distance races only use a standing start and shall remain motionless for the start without their hand(s) touching the ground.

The rules committee voted to combine Rule 6 (Throwing Events) and Rule 7 (Jumping Events) into one rule titled “Field Events” to eliminate duplication of definitions and unnecessary language and the possibility of making a change in the throws and missing it in the jumps.

“The last couple of rules cycles the committee has been trying to eliminate unnecessary and repetitive language. This is the last phase of the clean-up – creating one rule that covers multiple events,” Oakes said.

For purposes of risk management, the committee revised Rules 6-2-14 and 7-2-5, which state that all warm-ups in a field event may not take place until the venue is declared open and required supervision is in place. 

In Rule 5-6, the committee moved the Note in Rule 5-6-4 to the new Article 4. Oakes said the results of running events are based on head-to-head competition and all contestants should have the opportunity to compete in the heat earned by the competitor’s place and/or qualifying times. 

The committee also approved a change to Rule 3-6-1, which now grants authority to disqualify a runner for a false start to the starter as well as the referee. Also, the starter will now give a signal at the beginning of the last lap in individual races of two laps or more (previously three).

Another change was made in Rule 3-2-4u, which states that the games committee – not the coach – should have the responsibility of providing liquids during the competition.

In Rule 3-10-7, when flags are not utilized, the head event judge utilizes the mechanics to call “fair” or “foul.”

Other changes approved by the committee include:

  •         The removal of the Note in 4-3-1b(5), which contradicts the rule by limiting the placement of the American flag to one piece of uniform apparel.
  •         Rule 4-6-5g, which states that it is an unfair act when a competitor receives physical aid from any other person during a race or trial, except as provided in Rules 4-6-5 and 9-7.
  •         Rule 5-1-3, which notes that, in absence of a curb, if cones are used, they should just touch the inside of the line and be placed about 5 feet apart around the curve.
  •         Rule 6-2-17, which clarifies how trials are recorded when a legal implement breaks during competition.
  •         Rule 6-5-9e, which notes that if a shot put competitor touches the top or end of the stopboard before leaving the circle, it is a foul.
  •         Rule 9-1-3b for cross country states that the race course should include either directional flags and/or directional sign posts.
  •         Rule 10-2-2, which notes that when multiple takeoff boards are used in the long jump and triple jump, the 20-meter distance shall be from the foul line farthest from the pit.

A complete listing of the track and field rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “track and field.”

According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 578,632 boys participating in outdoor Track and Field at 16,358 schools and 478,726 girls at 16,309 schools. 

Rules changes approved for high school track and field, XC

posted Jul 14, 2015, 10:03 AM by Paul Williams

Beginning with the 2016 high school track and field season, the head starter (or designee), rather than the implement inspector, shall inspect all starting blocks used in the running events.

The addition of Article 4 to Rule 3-6 was one of eight changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field Rules Committee at its June 15-17 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The committee did significant work in cleaning up some confusion regarding trials and passes by expanding terms contained in definitions,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee. “Likewise, changes were made to include the use of flags in field events and update cross country rules to reflect the current trends in the sport.”

Rules 6-1-1 through 5 were amended to expand and clarify the definitions for trials/attempts in throwing events. Rule 6-2-9 concerning a competitor’s initiation of a trial was consequently affected by the change. Similar revisions were made to Rules 7-1-1 through 7 and Rule 7-2-12 so the same clarification and expansion of definitions apply.

Other significant track and field rules changes included the revision of Rule 3-10-7. The rule now states that “the head event judge may be equipped with both a white and red flag” to signal whether a throwing attempt is fair or foul. The change will allow for more efficient administration of field events and for improved communication between officials, coaches and fans, Oakes said.

In cross country, Rule 9-3-3 was revised to recommend the use of a video or photograph to verify the order of finish in races in which the timing system indicates a differential of one-tenth of a second or less. Having the video as a back-up and a process in place for problems that may arise from the use of a computerized transponder/chip system is a good solution, Oakes said.

Added to Rule 9-3 is the recommendation of a finish corral at cross country meets where transponders are used for the order of finish.

Other changes to cross country included an addition to Rule 9-1-3, which now allows the use of double painted boundary lines and/or natural or artificial boundary markers as an alternative method to mark the course for both runners and spectators.

The remaining changes to track and field concern equipment standards. Rule 6-5-2 was added, specifying the maximum allowed diameter for indoor shot put to account for the synthetic cover that is not present on the outdoor implement. Rule 6-6-1 was revised to allow for the use of newer javelin materials such as carbon fiber. Finally, Rule 7-6-3 was altered to recommend that the takeoff board for long jump and triple jump be eight inches wide, but still allow for larger boards.

Track and field is the second-most popular sport for boys with 580,321 participants in 16,271 schools and is the No. 1 sport for girls with 478,885 participants in 16,217 schools during the 2013-14 season, according to the NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. Cross country is the seventh-most popular sport for boys with 252,547 participants in 14,473 schools and is the sixth-most popular sport for girls with 218,121 participants in 14,267 schools.

NCAA clarifies pole vault box padding rule

posted Oct 21, 2013, 8:21 AM by Paul Williams   [ updated Oct 21, 2013, 8:21 AM ]

The NCAA has issued a memorandum to provide clarification to NCAA members that the NCAA’s pole vault box padding rule requires all pole vault box collars to contain padding in and around the pole vault box collar, as required by the applicable ASTM specification standard (designation F2949-12), including on the part of the box collar arm that extends down the inner sidewall of the pole vault box (referred to in the ASTM specification as a “box collar wing”). Doing so will give effect to the NCAA’s purpose in adopting the rule – to reduce the risk of injury to student-athletes caused by impact in and around the pole vault box.

To read the complete memorandum, visit the NCAA website.

NFHS rule change allows pole vault box padding

posted Apr 8, 2013, 9:56 AM by Paul Williams

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has added language to its rule concerning the pole vault planting box that allows padding to collar the box. The padding, if used, must meet the new ASTM standard that has already been adopted by the NCAA.

A pole vault box collar is a protective device that covers the hard unpadded surfaces surrounding a pole vault box and may also cover the top edges and side walls of a pole vault box. The new specification establishes requirements for the dimensions and minimum impact attenuation performance of pole vault box collars, according to Vaulter magazine.

The NFHS memorandum follows:

Memorandum from NFHS

To:                          State Association Executive Directors and Track and Field Administrators

From:                    Jim Tenopir/Becky Oakes

Subject:               Pole Vault Planting Box Padding

Date:                     April 4, 2013

The Track and Field Rules Committee recommended and the NFHS Board of Directors approved an immediate rule change to Track and Field Rule 7-5-24 pertaining to padding for the pole vault planting box. Rule 7-5-24 now permits the use of planting box padding that meets the new ASTM Specification Standard.

Rule 7-5-24…The planting box shall not contain any foreign materials except planting box padding. Such padding, if used, shall meet the applicable ASTM Specification Standard, and can be incorporated into the design of the planting box or can be a padding addition to an existing planting box. NOTE: Padding meeting the ASTM Standard may be used immediately, subject to rejection or conditional approval by state association action.

Rationale: For the purpose of minimizing risk of injury to a pole vaulter, allow planting box padding that meets the applicable ASTM Specification Standard.

The Track and Field Rules Committee recommended the rule change for the purpose of risk minimization with release of the ASTM standard and new product availability. In addition, with the NCAA requiring such planting box padding by December 1, 2013, there is a growing number of facilities utilizing the padding this outdoor season. Thus, high schools may encounter padding meeting the new standard. Unless determined otherwise by the respective state association, it is now permissible to use pole vault planting box padding meeting the ASTM standard.

All current rules requirements for padding are still in effect. For additional information regarding NFHS pole vault equipment requirements, please refer to the 2013 NFHS Track and Field Rules, 7-5.

2013-14 NCAA rules book available online

posted Dec 8, 2012, 1:33 PM by Paul Williams

As reported by secretary-treasurer Don Kirkland II at the Dec. 6 membership meeting, NCAA rules books have only just been printed and shipped. If you're eager to dive into the changes (who isn't?), you can find a PDF of the book at http://www.usatf.org/groups/officials/resources/rules/. This link gives access to rules books for USATF, IAAF, NCAA and NFHS. You can go directly to the NCAA book at http://www.usatf.org/groups/officials/files/resources/rules/2013-2014-NCAA-Rule-Book.pdf. You can then Save As... from the File menu.

2013 rules changes detailed

posted Sep 5, 2012, 8:34 AM by Paul Williams   [ updated Sep 5, 2012, 8:37 AM ]

Attached is a PDF that details the rules changes and rationales for 2013. Please see also the July 17 press release and posting from NFHS. 

Relay exchange zone, penalty for illegal uniform among 16 rules changes

posted Jul 18, 2012, 9:07 AM by Paul Williams

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 17, 2012) — New requirements for passing the baton in the exchange zone, and the penalty for wearing an illegal uniform highlight changes in high school track and field rules for next season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field Rules Committee approved 16 rules changes at its June 6-8 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Rule 5-10-7 will now state that the baton shall be handed from the incoming runner to the outgoing runner within the exchange zone. In addition, a new note will state that “the incoming and outgoing runners shall not simultaneously touch the baton outside of the 20-meter exchange zone.”

“This change will provide consistency in enforcement and will minimize a judgment call,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and staff liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee. “The new language fits the current technique of exchange method in high school track.”

Beginning next season, a competitor wearing an illegal uniform will first be issued a warning and will be required the make the uniform legal prior to further competition. A subsequent violation during the competition would result in disqualification from the event. Previously, the competitor was automatically disqualified for an illegal uniform.

“This adjustment of the penalty for an illegal uniform is more appropriate for the severity of the actual violation,” Oakes said. “The rule has been loosely enforced during the regular season and more strictly enforced at state tournament time. The responsibility remains with the coach to have his or her athletes in legal uniforms for competition.”

Among the changes in rules for field events, the most significant perhaps is a revision in the pole vault. The standards or uprights shall be set to position the crossbar from 18 inches beyond the vertical plane of the top of the stopboard, instead of the previous distance of 15.5 inches. The maximum distance remains 31.5 inches.

“This change will help vaulters land more in the center of the pad, providing a better range of placement of the standards and positioning the crossbar for risk minimization,” Oakes said.

Two additional changes approved by the rules committee focus on reducing the risk of injury. Rules 3-19-2 and 6-2-16 will be revised to state that only legal implements used in throwing events will be allowed in warm-ups. Also, a new article in Rule 5-1 will recommend, when feasible, an obstacle-free zone on the inside and outside of the track at least 1 meter in width.

Five other changes in throwing events were approved by the committee:

·            Rule 6-2-2 requires the three preliminary trials to be taken in fights of no less than five in the order in which the competitors are listed for competition.

·            In Rule 6-2-3, with no action from the games committee, one more competitor than places scored will advance to the finals.

·            In Rule 6-4-2, a range of ¼-inch will be allowed in the rim thickness of the discus (.472 inches to .512 inches).

·            In Rule 6-5-9j, it is a foul if the competitor uses the “cartwheel” technique in the shot put.

·            In Rule 6-6-9, if the javelin breaks during the throw or in the air, it shall not count as a trial provided the throw is in accordance with the rules. A replacement throw shall be awarded.

           Among the most significant changes in Rule 7 (jumping events), the committee approved the following revision to Rule 7-4-6 in the high jump: “In addition to the commonly used four-sided flat crossbar ends, the use of a crossbar fitted with alternative ends (semicircular) is permitted.”

           In addition, the rules committee added time limits for consecutive attempts in field events which had not been addressed previously.

          A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS website.

        Outdoor track and field is the second-most popular sport for boys, with 579,302 participants, and most popular sport for girls, with 475,265 participants, at the high school level, according to the 2011-12 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. The sport ranks second in school sponsorship with 15,954 schools sponsoring the sport for boys and 16,030 sponsoring the sport for girls.

Minor corrections for NFHS rules book

posted Feb 13, 2012, 9:48 AM by Paul Williams

Corrections to Rules Book: 

Page 8, Rule 1-1-1 should read “A track and field meet...”; 

Page 8, Rule 1-1-2 should read “A track and field/cross country team...”; 

Page 41, Rule 6-2-4, 3rd line should read “...taken in flights of no less than 5”; 

Page 55, Rule 7-4-10, last sentence in Example should read “..., with five the mini- mum number to begin...”; 

Page 57, Rule 7-5-5, 6th line should read “...and the proper binding of adhe- sive tape of uniform thickness when used.”; 

Page 64, Rule 7-6-14b, (3-2-4c) should be (3-2-4b)

Corrections to Case Book and Manual: None.

1-10 of 20