NFHS addresses risk minimization in swimming, volleyball

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2017

In an effort to minimize risk in high school sports, the National Federation of State High School Associations adjusted many rules within multiple sports to start the 2017-18 fall season on the right foot.


The NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee recommended seven rules be changed to address risk minimization and requirements for use of the championship meet format.

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In previous years, the swimming and diving championship format was different than other meets throughout the season. To help athletes familiarize themselves with the championship meet format, the NFHS adjusted a few rules.

To determine which meets should be considered culminating meets — and due to the variations in different conferences, leagues and postseason championships in Mississippi — the NFHS has implemented a new rule requiring state associations to identify culminating meets for the 2017-18 season, which requires the use of the championship format.

Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee said in an NFHS release that the championship format features preliminaries and final rounds. This format offers the best opportunity for athletes to excel in their individual and team-based events. Still, Searcy said the format also proposes specific rules associated with all entries, dual confirmation and applicable penalties for false starts.

“The committee agreed that state associations are in the best position to determine which competitions must adhere to the championship meet format. The language also allows non-championship meets to be conducted using the championship meet format,” Searcy said in the release.

A new addition to Rule 8-3-5c describes where a second, third and fourth swimmer’s feet must be during a relay exchange. According to the release, one foot must remain on the starting platform in front of the starting block wedge during takeoff. This change was made to minimize risk during relay exchanges.

Rule 3-6 was altered to simplify misconduct penalties during meets. Rules were modified to allow officials to easily compare and categorize appropriate penalties for offenses.

The change to Rule 9-5-2 explains what an intended hop, leap or jump is and how it now counts toward the three-step forward approach requirement.

The rule concerning dual confirmation during championship meets was modified to include the referee and the starter act as relay takeoff judges.

To permit flexibility for competitors, Rule 3-4 was changed to allow competitors to count either up or down with visual lap counters during 500-yard events.

Lastly, a rule was changed to provide consistency for all NFHS sports, regarding what school and competitor information is permitted on uniforms, suits and swim caps.


Rules were changed for high school volleyball to allow the game to progress more fluidly.

According to an NFHS release, the NFHS placed five points of emphasis to implement in the 2017-18 season, including conduct and privileges of assistant coaches; court boundary lines and attack lines; second referee-handling of requests for a third time-out; letters of authorization; and the mechanics of signals and communication.

Rule 5-5-3b(12) now defines the end of a time-out to be the horn and the warning of the impending end of a time-out to be the second official’s whistle 45 seconds into the break and the whistle for both teams to get back on the court ready to play before the horn sounds off at 60 seconds. Also the audio horn shall be the only indication that the time-out is officially over.

A new rule was added this year stating, “A replay is a single action to repeat the start and completion of a rally that was interrupted under Rule 9-8-1 clarifies when resuming play, all circumstances should be the same and no requests shall be recognized for, e.g. time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement, etc.,” according to the release.

Lastly, a rule for officials will omit the illegal substitution signal if a player is attempting to enter the set. Instead, it is an unnecessary delay penalty. This eliminates two penalty signals being made by officials.

Additional rule changes made to spirit competitions will be featured in the Item later this week as well as the powerlifting sites for 2018.