Football Penalties

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Penalties in football can be as nuanced as the game itself. Click below to learn about the most penalties in football.

What is holding in football?

Holding in football can mean two different things. When it’s holding on the offense, more times than not by a member of the offensive line who has latched on to a defensive player, it results in a 10-yard penalty. In the case of defensive holding, the penalty is just five yards but it results in a first down for the opposing offense. It’s also worth mentioning if a player is called for offensive holding in the end zone, the result is a safety (2 points) for the other team. And the team committing the penalty must perform a free kick (either a kickoff or punt).

What is a false start in football?

It’s been said that football is a game of inches. It’s also a game of timing. Before each offensive snap, all 11 players must be set for at least one second. If an offensive players moves or jumps that is considered a “false start” and the team is assessed a five-year penalty.

It’s worth noting that there is a difference between a “false start,” which falls on the offense, and “offsides” or “encroachment,” which is basically a defensive player jumping across the line and/or making contact with an offensive player. The better quarterbacks in the league are skilled at making the opposing defense jump early.

What is encroachment in football?

It depends on the game, be it college or pro, as to what the definition is regarding encroachment. In the National Football League, it is a defensive violation that carries a five-yard penalty. From the Official Playing Rules of the NFL: “A player is encroaching on the Neutral Zone when any part of his body is in it and he contacts an offensive player or the ball prior to the snap.”

When it comes to college football, it is an offensive violation that carries a five-yard penalty. From the NCAA Football Rules: “After the ball is ready for play, encroachment occurs when an offensive player is in or beyond the neutral zone after the snapper touches or simulates (hand(s) at or below his knees) touching the ball before the snap (Exception: When the ball is put in play, the snapper is not encroaching when he is in the neutral zone).

What is a flag in football?

A flag in the game of football can mean any number of things of things. More times than not, it’s a penalty flag thrown by the officials when there is a rules violation. There’s also a challenge flag – a red flag that can be thrown by the head coach of either team to challenge a call they feel is incorrect. There are also flags flying atop the goal posts in each end zone which helps when judging the wind – especially on field goal attempts. On November 25, 1951, the flags were really flying as the Cleveland Browns (21) and Chicago Bears (16) combined for a NFL single-game record of 27 penalties.

What is an illegal shift in football?

Paraphrasing from NFL Football Operations: The offensive team is permitted to have two or more players in motion multiple times before the snap. After the last shift, all players must come to a complete stop and be in a set position simultaneously for at least one full second. If any eligible backfield player goes in motion (one at a time) after the last shift and comes to a complete stop, there is no requirement for a full-second pause before a second player can legally go in motion. If the first player has not come to a complete stop when the second player goes in motion, it is another shift and requires another simultaneous stop for at least one full second by all players. If a player under or behind center goes in motion and fails to come to a complete stop for at least one full second before a second player goes in motion, that is also considered an illegal shift – which carries a five-yard penalty.

What is clipping in football?

Clipping is a penalty than carries a 15-yards penalty. It is a block from behind – primarily by the offense or by a member of the kickoff or punt return units – and it occurs from the waist down. It’s worth noting that a defensive player can also be flagged for clipping if he is blocking on an interception or fumble return by one of his teammates. Clipping is different from a “block in the back,” which is a penalty for blocking a player from behind above the waist. That infraction carries only a 10-yard penalty.

What is pass interference in football?

Once a pass-catcher is beyond five yards, he is free to run and make a reception without being impeded by an opposing player. There are two different types of penalties for defensive pass interference depending on which game you are talking about. In college, it’s a foul that carries a 15-yard penalty. In the National Football League, the ball is spotted where the infraction occurred. The latter has been the subject of controversy for many years because the penalty can be so harsh. Of course, there is also offensive pass interference in which a receiver, tight end or running back will push off a defender in an attempt to make the catch.