IFAF RULE 9 – Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules

SECTION 1. Personal Fouls


All fouls in this section (unless noted) and any other acts of unnecessary roughness are personal fouls. For flagrant personal fouls mandating IFAF review, see Rule 9-6. Except as otherwise noted, the penalties for all personal fouls are as follows:
PENALTY –
Personal foul. 15 yards. For dead-ball fouls, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Penalties for Team A live-ball personal fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the live-ball foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line. [S7, S24, S25, S34, S38, S39, S40, S41, S45 or S46]. Flagrant offenders shall be disqualified [S47].

For Team A fouls during free or scrimmage kick plays: Enforcement may be either at the previous spot or the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B (field goal plays exempted) (Rules 6-1-8 and 6-3-13).

For Team B personal fouls during a legal forward pass play (Rules 7-3-12 and 10-2-2-e): Enforcement is at the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. If the pass is incomplete or intercepted, or if there is a change of team possession during the down, the penalty is enforced at the previous spot.

ARTICLE 1. Flagrant Fouls


Before the game, during the game and between periods, all flagrant fouls (Rule 2-10-1) require disqualification. Team B disqualification personal fouls require first downs if not in conflict with other rules.

ARTICLE 2. Striking Fouls and Tripping


  1. No person subject to the rules shall strike an opponent with the knee; strike an opponent’s helmet (including the face mask), neck, face or any other part of the body with an extended forearm, elbow, locked hands, palm, fist or the heel, back or side of the open hand; or gouge an opponent. (A.R. 9-1-2:I)

  2. No person subject to the rules shall strike an opponent with his foot or any part of his leg that is below the knee.

  3. c. There shall be no tripping. Tripping is intentionally using the lower leg or foot to obstruct an opponent below the knee. (Rule 2-28)

Approved ruling 9-1-2


  1. A player (a) strikes an opponent with the knee or (b) projects the knee before contact with an opponent (most apt to occur when the player is meeting a blocker). RULING: (a) and (b) Personal foul, striking with the knee. Penalty — 15 yards. Enforce at the previous spot if foul by Team A occurs behind the neutral zone. Safety if the foul by Team A occurs behind Team A’s goal line. First down if foul is by Team B. Disqualify if flagrant. [Cited by 9-1-2-a]
  2. A1, a ball carrier, strikes tackler B6 with his extended forearm just before being tackled. RULING: Personal foul. Penalty — 15 yards. Enforce from the previous spot if foul occurs behind the neutral zone. Disqualification if flagrant. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line.
  3. A11 completes a forward pass to A88 who is tackled in the field of play. During the play defensive end B88 is flagged for a personal foul against A79. RULING: The 15-yard penalty is enforced at the spot where A88 is tackled (Rules 7-3-12 and 9-1 Penalty). [Cited by 10-2-2-e-1, 7-3-12]

ARTICLE 3. Targeting and Making Forcible Contact With the Crown of the Helmet


No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. The crown of the helmet is the portion of the helmet above the level of the top of the facemask. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (see Rule 2-35). When in question, it is a foul (Rule 9-6). (A.R. 9-1-3:I)
PENALTY –
In addition to the 15-yard penalty, automatic disqualification. The 15-yard penalty is not enforced if the Video Judge reverses the disqualification. [S38, S24 and S47]

Approved ruling 9-1-3

  1. Forward passer A12 inside the tackle box is looking for an open receiver. Before or just as he releases the ball, A12 is hit from the side at the ribs, thigh or knee by B79, who dives forward and leads with the crown (top) of his helmet. RULING: Foul by B79 for targeting his opponent and making forcible contact with the top of his helmet. 15 yards, first down. B79 is automatically disqualified. [Cited by 9-1-3]

ARTICLE 4. Targeting and Making Forcible Contact to Head or Neck Area of a Defenseless Player


No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (see Rule 2-35). When in question, it is a foul (Rule 2-27-14 and 9-6). (A.R. 9-1-4:I-VI)
PENALTY –
In addition to the 15-yard penalty, automatic disqualification. The 15-yard penalty is not enforced if the Video Judge reverses the disqualification. [S38, S24 and S47]

Approved ruling 9-1-4

  1. Receiver A83 has just leaped and received a forward pass. As A83 is about to regain his balance, B45 launches and drives into A83 above the shoulder area with his helmet or shoulder. RULING: Foul by B45 for targeting and making forcible contact with a defenseless opponent above the shoulders. 15 yards, first down. B45 is automatically disqualified. [Cited by 9-1-4]
  2. As ball carrier A20 sweeps around the end and heads upfield, he lowers his head and contacts defensive end B89 who is trying to tackle him. The players meet helmet to helmet. RULING: No foul. Neither A20 nor B89 is a defenseless player and neither has targeted his opponent in the sense of Rule 9-1-3. [Cited by 9-1-4]
  3. A44 is covering the kickoff that opens the second half. As A44 is running at the Team B 45-yard line, B66 targets and launches into A44 from the side, a blind-side block. B66 first makes contact with his forearm at A44’s (a) neck; (b) upper arm or shoulder. RULING: (a) Foul by B66 for targeting a defenseless player and making forcible contact at the head or neck area. 15-yard penalty at the end of the run. B66 is disqualified. (b) No foul. Although A44 is a defenseless player and B66 targets him, the contact by B66 is not to the head or neck area (Rule 2-27-14). [Cited by 9-1-4]
  4. A12 who normally plays quarterback is lined up as a wide receiver in the backfield and A33 is five yards behind the snapper in a shotgun formation. A33’s pass intended for A12 is intercepted. During the interception return B55 targets and launches at A33, striking him in the side of the helmet. RULING: Foul by B55 for targeting and making forcible contact at the head of a defenseless player. For the purposes of Rule 2-27-14, A33 is a defenseless player since he played the down in the role of the quarterback. [Cited by 9-1-4]
  5. End A81 is split far to the left of the formation, to the outside of defensive end B89. On a sweep play in his direction B89 moves to his left to focus on the ball carrier, losing sight of A81. A81 then cuts to the inside, takes aim and launches at B89, forcibly contacting him with his forearm to B89’s neck. RULING: Targeting foul under Rule 9-1-4, 15 yard penalty, A81 is disqualified. B89 is a defenseless player as he is subject to the blind-side block (Rule 2-27-14). [Cited by 9-1-4]
  6. Ball carrier A33 has gained several yards and is in the grasp of two defenders. His forward progress has been stopped but the ball has not been declared dead. Linebacker B55 crouches and thrusts himself forward, driving his forearm into the side of A33’s helmet. RULING: Targeting foul by B55. 15 yard penalty, B55 is disqualified. A33 is a defenseless player since he is in the grasp of the opponents and his forward progress has been stopped. (Rule 2-27-14) [Cited by 9-1-4]
  7. Pass receiver A88 has just caught the ball when defender B55 launches and drives his shoulder and forearm into his upper body. The back judge flags B55 for targeting to the head-neck area and he is disqualified. The referee makes his announcement of the targeting foul, and the play goes to review. RULING: After review, Instant Replay rules that there was not forcible contact to the head-neck area, overturning the disqualification of B55. The referee announces that B55 is not disqualified and that there will be no 15-yard penalty.
  8. Punt receiver B44 is in position to catch a punt. A88 races down the field and launches at B44, driving the side of his helmet and shoulder into B44’s upper body the instant before the ball arrives. The side judge and field judge throw their flags and report to the referee that A88 is charged with kick-catch interference and targeting to the head-neck area. The referee makes his announcement of kick-catch interference with targeting to the head-neck area. The play goes to review. RULING: After review, Instant Replay rules that A88 did not make forcible contact to the head-neck area, overturning his disqualification. The referee announces that A88 is not disqualified and that the 15-yard penalty for interference with the opportunity to catch a kick will be enforced.
  9. In a game without instant replay, the competition or teams have agreed to use the halftime review process for first-half targeting fouls. During the first quarter, pass receiver A88 has just caught the ball when defender B55 launches and drives his shoulder and forearm into his upper body. The back judge flags B55 for targeting to the head-neck area. The referee makes his announcement of the targeting foul and that B55 is disqualified. RULING: In the halftime review of the video, the referee and the crew determine that B55 did not make forcible contact to A88’s head-neck area, overturning the disqualification. The referee informs both head coaches that B55 may return to the game in the second half. Before the kickoff for the second half, the referee announces to the spectators that after review, the disqualification of B55 is overturned and he may return to the game for the second half.

ARTICLE 5. Clipping


There shall be no clipping (Rule 2-5).

Exceptions:

  1. Offensive players who are on the line of scrimmage at the snap within the free-blocking zone (Rule 2-3-6) legally may clip in the free-blocking zone, subject to the following restrictions:

    1. A player in the free-blocking zone may not block an opponent with the force of the initial contact from behind and at or below the knee.

    2. A player on the line of scrimmage within the free-blocking zone may not leave the zone and return and legally clip.

    3. The free-blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone (Rule 2-3-6).

  2. When a player turns his back to a potential blocker who has committed himself in intent and direction or movement.

  3. When a player attempts to reach a ball carrier or simulated ball carrier or legally attempts to recover or catch a fumble, a backward pass, a kick or a touched forward pass, he may push an opponent below the waist at or to the buttocks (Rule 9-3-6 Exception 3).

  4. When an eligible player behind the neutral zone pushes an opponent below the waist at or to the buttocks to get to a forward pass (Rule 9-3-6 Exception 5).

  5. Clipping is allowed against the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier.

ARTICLE 6. Blocking Below the Waist


Block below waist decision tree – courtesy of LegacyZebra

  1. Team A prior to a change of team possession:

    1. The following Team A players may legally block below the waist inside the tackle box until they leave the tackle box or until the ball has left the tackle box:

      1. players on the line of scrimmage completely inside the tackle box; and

      2. backs who at the snap were stationary and at least partially inside the tackle box and at least partially inside the frame of the body of the second lineman from the snapper. (A.R. 9-1-6:V)



    2. Except as in paragraph 3 (below),Players not covered in paragraph 1 (above) while the ball is still in the tackle box, and all players after the ball has left the tackle box, are allowed to block below the waist only if the force of the initial contact is from the front, but they may not block below the waist if the force of the initial contact is from the side or back. “From the front” is understood to mean within the clock-face region between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock forward of the player being blocked. (A.R. 9-1-6:I-II, IV, VII-VIII)

    3. Players not covered in paragraph 1 (above) may not block below the waist toward the original position of the ball at the snap until the ball is clearly beyond the neutral zone.

    4. Once the ball has left the tackle box a player may not block below the waist toward his own end line. (A.R. 9-1-6:III)

  2. Team B prior to a change of team possession:

    1. Other than in paragraphs 2 and 3 (below), players of Team B may block below the waist only within the area defined by lines parallel to the goal line five yards beyond and behind the neutral zone extended to the sidelines. Blocking below the waist by players of Team B outside this zone is illegal except against the ball carrier. (A.R. 9-1-6:VI, IX)

    2. Players of Team B may not block below the waist against an opponent who is in position to receive a backward pass.

    3. Players of Team B may not block below the waist against an eligible Team A pass receiver beyond the neutral zone unless attempting to get at the ball or ball carrier. This prohibition ends when a legal forward pass is no longer possible by rule.

  3. Kicks: During a down in which there is a free kick or scrimmage kick, blocking below the waist by any player is illegal except against a ball carrier.

  4. After change of team possession: After any change of team possession, blocking below the waist by any player is illegal except against a ball carrier.

Approved ruling 9-1-6


  1. A1, an end, is positioned 11 yards to the left of the snapper at the snap. B2 is between the original position of A1 and the sideline. A1 blocks B2 away from the position of the ball at the snap. The block by A1 is below the waist and directly in front of B2. RULING: Legal block because it is directly at the opponent’s front. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-2]
  2. Quarterback A1 is forced to run out of his protecting pocket, leave the low-blocking zone, and scramble back and forth across the field. A2, a wide receiver, positioned 12 yards to the left of the snapper at the snap, moves downfield and then returns toward the neutral zone. A2 blocks B2 below the waist clearly from the side, the block being directed toward a sideline. RULING: Illegal block below the waist since it is not at the front. 15-yard penalty. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-2]
  3. On a run or pass option play, wide receiver A2 at the snap is positioned 12 yards to the right of the snapper. He moves downfield and then returns toward the neutral zone. The ball has left the low-blocking zone when A2 blocks B2 eight yards beyond the neutral zone and below the waist directly at B2’s front and slightly toward Team A’s end line. RULING: Illegal block below the waist. Even though A2 blocks below the waist directly at the front, the block is toward his own end line. 15-yard penalty. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-3]
  4. Back A31, a flanker positioned to the left side of a formation, runs a deep reverse to the right side after receiving the ball from a teammate. End A82 at the snap is positioned 10 yards from the snapper on the right side of the formation. As A31 turns the corner, A82 blocks B62 toward the left sideline. The block by A82 is below the waist and generally at the front but outside the “10 o’clock to 2 o’clock” width. The block occurs behind or one yard beyond the neutral zone. RULING: Illegal block below the waist because it is too much to the opponent’s side and because it is directed toward the original position of the ball. 15-yard penalty. Enforce at the previous spot if the foul occurs behind the neutral zone. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-2]
  5. Back A41 is stationary at the snap directly behind the right tackle in a balanced line formation. His left shoulder is inside the tackle box. The quarterback hands the ball to back A22 who runs straight ahead. A41 blocks B2 who moves into the offensive backfield to make a play on the ball carrier as A22 reaches the line of scrimmage. The block is below the waist and clearly at the side. RULING: Legal block. A41 is partially inside the tackle box and behind the second lineman at the snap, and at the time of the block the ball had not left the low-blocking zone. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-1-b]
  6. Defensive end B88 blocks below the waist against tackle A75 one yard beyond the line of scrimmage. The block is at the opponent’s side. RULING: Legal block because it takes place within the 10-yard belt. Had this block taken place more than five yards from the line of scrimmage in either direction it would be a foul. [Cited by 9-1-6-b-1]
  7. Back A22 is stationary or in motion inside the tackle box at the snap. As the play develops, he leads a sweep to the right side and blocks below the waist against a linebacker after the ball carrier has left the low-blocking zone. RULING: Legal block as long as the force of the initial contact is at the front within the “10-to-2 o’clock” region and is not toward Team A’s end line. If A22 is in motion at the snap, his block is illegal if it is toward the original position of the ball. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-2]
  8. Third and seven at the A-30. The ball is at the left hash mark. Back A22 is split completely outside the frame of the tackle on the left side, and B40 moves out to cover him. The handoff goes to back A44 who sweeps around the right end. As the play develops B40 follows the play and A22 chases him. At the A-40 beyond the right hash mark, A22 overtakes B40 and blocks him below the waist clearly and directly at the front. The direction of this block is downfield and slightly toward the right sideline. A44 is tackled at the B-45. RULING: Legal play. The block made directly in front of the opponent is legal no matter which sideline it is toward, since it is not toward Team A’s end line. [Cited by 9-1-6-a-2]
  9. First and 10 at the A-40. A12 takes the snap and starts on a sweep to his right. Guard A66 pulls and leads the play. As the play develops linebacker B55 blocks A66 from the side at the thigh at the A-44. A12 is driven out of bounds at the A-48. RULING: No foul. B55’s block below the waist is legal because it occurs fewer than 5 yards beyond the neutral zone. [Cited by 9-1-6-b-1]

ARTICLE 7. Late Hit, Action Out of Bounds



  1. There shall be no piling on, falling on, or throwing the body on an opponent after the ball becomes dead. (A.R. 9-1-7:I)


  2. No opponent shall tackle or block the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier when he is clearly out of bounds or throw him to the ground after the ball becomes dead.

  3. It is illegal for any player to be clearly out of bounds when he initiates a block against an opponent who is out of bounds. The spot of the foul is where the blocker crosses the sideline in going out of bounds.

Approved ruling 9-1-7


  1. After the ball is dead, a player throws himself on a prostrate opponent who does not have the ball. RULING: Personal foul. Penalty — 15 yards from the succeeding spot and first down if by a Team B player and not in conflict with other rules. “Piling on” applies to a ball carrier or to any other opponent who is prostrate when the ball becomes dead. [Cited by 9-1-7-a]
  2. On a sweep play toward the sideline, linebacker B55 goes out of bounds to avoid a block. Guard A66 is leading the play, and just as he steps on the sideline with his front foot he drives his shoulder in the waist at the front of B55 who is still out of bounds. RULING: Legal block. A66 does not have both feet out of bounds.

ARTICLE 8. Helmet and Face Mask Fouls



  1. No player shall continuously contact an opponent’s face, helmet (including the face mask) or neck with hand(s) or arm(s) (Exception: By or against the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier).

  2. No player shall grasp and then twist, turn or pull the face mask, chin strap or any helmet opening of an opponent. It is not a foul if the face mask, chin strap or helmet opening is not grasped then twisted, turned or pulled. When in question, it is a foul.

ARTICLE 9. Roughing the Passer



  1. No defensive player shall charge into a forward passer or throw him to the ground when it is obvious the ball has been thrown. (Exception: A defensive player who is blocked by a Team A player(s) with a force so that he has no opportunity to avoid contact with the forward passer. However, this does not relieve the defensive player of responsibility for personal fouls as described elsewhere in this section.) (A.R. 2-30-4:I and II) (A.R. 9-1-9:I) (A.R. 10-2-2:XIII)


  2. When an offensive player is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground, no defensive player rushing unabated shall hit him forcibly at the knee area or below. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit this opponent in the knee area or below.

    Exceptions:

    1. It is not a foul if the offensive player is a ball carrier or simulated ball carrier not in a passing posture, either inside or outside the tackle box.

    2. It is not a foul if the defender grabs or wraps this opponent in an attempt to make a conventional tackle without making forcible contact with the head or shoulder.

    3. It is not a foul if the defender is not rushing unabated or is blocked or fouled into this opponent.

PENALTY –
The 15-yard penalty is added to the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. (A.R. 9-1-9:II-III)

Approved ruling 9-1-9


  1. After forward passer A17 releases the ball, B68 takes two strides and charges into A17, showing no attempt to avoid contact. RULING: Roughing the passer. The forward passer is a defenseless player who is vulnerable to injury and must be fully protected. After taking two strides, B68 should be aware that A17 has released the ball and be able to avoid contacting him. [Cited by 9-1-9-a]
  2. Quarterback A11 drops back in the pocket and sets up to pass. Just as he releases the ball he is hit by end B88 who drives his shoulder into A11’s knee. The pass is (a) incomplete; (b) caught by A44 who is tackled after a 12-yard gain to the B-40. RULING: Foul by B88 for forcibly hitting the forward passer at the knee or below, in violation of Rule 9-1-9-b. Automatic first down and 15-yard penalty enforced at (a) the previous spot; (b) the B-40, the end of the run by A44. [Cited by 9-1-9 Penalty]
  3. Quarterback A11 drops back in the pocket and sets up to pass. He then scrambles to his right, sets up again and is in the passing posture when he is hit by end B88 who drives his shoulder into A11’s knee. A11 then pulls the ball in and goes to the ground because of being tackled by B88. RULING: Foul by B88, violation of Rule 9-1-9-b. While A11 is technically not a passer because he did not release the ball, the action by B88 is a foul under 9-1-9-b because of the vulnerability of A11 as a potential passer in a passing posture. [Cited by 9-1-9 Penalty]

ARTICLE 10. Chop Blocking


There shall be no chop blocking (Rule 2-3-3). (A.R. 9-1-10:I-V)

Approved ruling 9-1-10


  1. On a forward pass play, A75 is blocking B66 at the waist behind the neutral zone. While A75 maintains contact, A47 subsequently blocks B66 at his thigh. RULING: Chop block. 15 yards from the previous spot. [Cited by 2-3-3, 9-1-10]
  2. As the flow of the play moves to the left, right tackle A77 is disengaging from his block above the thigh with B50 when A27 blocks B50 at his knee. RULING: Chop block, 15 yards. Previous-spot enforcement if the foul occurs behind the neutral zone. [Cited by 2-3-3, 9-1-10]
  3. Immediately after the snap, left guard A65 and left tackle A79 simultaneously block B66, who is in the neutral zone. (a) Both blocks are at the thigh. (b) One contact is at the waist and the other at the knee. RULING: (a) Legal blocks for a low-low combination. (b) Foul, chop block. [Cited by 2-3-3, 9-1-10]
  4. Tight end A87 and wingback A43 are leading the play when both simultaneously block linebacker B17, who is three yards beyond the neutral zone. (a) Both blocks are above the waist. (b) One block is above the waist and the other at the knee. RULING: (a) Legal blocks. (b) Foul, chop block. [Cited by 2-3-3, 9-1-10]
  5. After snapping the ball, snapper A54 brushes by nose guard B62 on his way to block a linebacker. A54 makes slight contact with B62, or B62 reaches out and uses his arm to initiate contact with A54. While B62 and A54 are in contact, right guard A68 blocks B62 at the knee from the front. RULING: Legal. A54 is not blocking B62. The incidental contact or B62’s initiating contact does not constitute part of a combination block, and hence there is no chop block. [Cited by 2-3-3, 9-1-10]

ARTICLE 11. Leverage, Leaping and Landing




  1. No defensive player, in an attempt to gain an advantage, may step, jump or stand on an opponent.

  2. No defensive player who runs forward from beyond the neutral zone and leaps from beyond the neutral zone in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or try may land on any player(s).

    1. It is not a foul if the player was aligned in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped.

    2. It is not a foul if the player leaps from in or behind the neutral zone.

    3. It is not a foul if an offensive player initiates contact against the player who leaps.

  3. No defensive player who is inside the tackle box may try to block a punt by leaving his feet in an attempt to leap directly over an opponent.

    1. It is not a foul if the player tries to block the punt by jumping straight up without attempting to leap over the opponent.

    2. It is not a foul if a player attempts to leap through or over the gap between players.

  4. No defensive player, in an attempt to block, bat or catch a kick, may:

    1. Step, jump or stand on a teammate.

    2. Place a hand(s) on a teammate to get leverage for additional height.

    3. Be picked up by a teammate, or be elevated, propelled or pushed.

  5. PENALTY –
    15 yards, previous spot and automatic first down. [S38]

  6. No player may position himself with his feet on the back or shoulders of a teammate before the snap.

  7. PENALTY –
    Dead-ball foul, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules [S27].

ARTICLE 12. Contact Against an Opponent Out of the Play



  1. No player shall tackle or run into a receiver when a forward pass to him obviously is not catchable. This is a personal foul and not pass interference.

  2. No player shall run into or throw himself against an opponent obviously out of the play either before or after the ball is dead.



ARTICLE 13. Hurdling


There shall be no hurdling (Exception: The ball carrier may hurdle an opponent).

ARTICLE 14. Contact Against the Snapper


When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap. (A.R. 9-1-14:I-III)

Approved ruling 9-1-14


  1. A10 is in a shotgun-type formation 7½ yards behind the snapper, who has his head down and is looking backward through his legs. Immediately after the snap, nose guard B55 charges directly at the snapper and contacts him by pushing him backward. RULING: Legal. The snapper is not afforded any special protection because it was not reasonably obvious that a kick might be attempted (Rule 2-16-10). The snapper does have the usual protection against any personal foul for unnecessary roughness. [Cited by 2-16-10-a, 9-1-14]
  2. Team A is in an obvious scrimmage kick formation. Immediately after the snap, nose guard B55 charges directly at the snapper, contacts him, and drives him backward. The ball is snapped to an upback three yards behind the scrimmage line or to the potential kicker, who instead runs with or passes the ball. RULING: Foul. Penalty — 15 yards and automatic first down. The snapper may not be contacted until one second has elapsed after the snap when Team A is in a scrimmage kick formation and it is reasonably obvious that a kick might be attempted. [Cited by 2-16-10-a, 9-1-14]
  3. Immediately after the snap, with Team A in an obvious scrimmage kick formation, noseguard B71 attempts to “shoot the gap” between the snapper and the adjacent lineman. B71’s initial legal contact is with the lineman next to the snapper. RULING: Legal. Incidental contact with the snapper after this initial legal contact is not a foul (Rule 2-16-10). [Cited by 2-16-10-a, 9-1-14]

ARTICLE 15. Horse Collar Tackle


All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, or grabbing the jersey at the name plate or above, and pull the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier toward the ground. This does not apply to a ball carrier, including a potential forward passer, who is inside the tackle box (Rule 2-34).

NOTE: It is not necessary for a player to pull the opponent completely to the ground in order for the act to be illegal. If his knees are buckled by the action, it is a foul, even if the opponent is not pulled completely to the ground. Note that the tackle box disintegrates when the ball leaves it.

Approved ruling 9-1-15

  1. As ball carrier A20 races down the field near the sideline, defender B56 grabs him from behind by the back of the jersey at the collar or by the collar of his shoulder pad. B56 continues with this contact for several yards but A20 does not go to the ground until tackled by another defender. RULING: Legal play. B56 did not foul because he did not immediately pull A20 down.

ARTICLE 16. Roughing or Running into Kicker or Holder



  1. When it is obvious that a scrimmage kick will be made, no opponent shall run into or rough the kicker or the holder of a place kick. (A.R. 9-1-16:I, III and VI)

    1. Roughing is a live-ball personal foul that endangers the kicker or holder.

    2. Running into the kicker or holder is a live-ball foul that occurs when the kicker or holder is displaced from his kicking or holding position but is not roughed. (A.R. 9-1-16:II) Note: “Running into” carries a five-yard penalty at the previous spot.

    3. Incidental contact with a kicker or holder is not a foul.

    4. The kicker’s protection under this rule ends:

      1. When he has had a reasonable time to regain his balance (A.R. 9-1-16:IV); or

      2. When he carries the ball outside the tackle box (Rule 2-34) before kicking.

    5. When a defensive player’s contact against the kicker or holder is caused by an opponent’s block (legal or illegal), there is no foul for running into or roughing.

    6. A player who makes contact with the kicker or holder after touching the kick is not charged with running into or roughing the kicker.

    7. When aap player other than one who blocks a scrimmage kick runs into or roughs the kicker or holder, it is a foul.

    8. When in question whether the foul is running into or roughing, the foul is roughing.

  2. A kicker or holder simulating being roughed or run into by a defensive player commits an unsportsmanlike act. (A.R. 9-1-16:V)

  3. PENALTY –
    [a-b] 15 yards from the previous spot plus automatic first down if not in conflict with other rules [S27 or S30].

  4. The kicker of a free kick may not be blocked until he has advanced five yards beyond his restraining line or the kick has touched a player, an official or the ground.

  5. PENALTY –
    15 yards from the previous spot [S40].

Approved ruling 9-1-16


  1. A1 catches a long snap and plans to punt from behind his line of scrimmage, but misses the ball, which falls to the ground. A1 is then contacted by B1. RULING: Team A fumble. No foul by B1. There is no kicker until the ball is kicked. [Cited by 9-1-16-a]
  2. A1 kicks the ball, after which B1, unable to stop his attempt to block the kick, runs into the kicker or holder. RULING: Penalty — Five yards from the previous spot. Roughing and 15 yards and first down if in question as to whether the foul is “running into” or “roughing”. [Cited by 9-1-16-a-2]
  3. A1, from a non-scrimmage kick formation, makes a quick, unexpected kick so suddenly that B1 cannot avoid contact. RULING: This is not roughing or running into the kicker, since the rule applies only when it is reasonably obvious that a kick will be made. [Cited by 9-1-16-a]
  4. B1 runs into player A1, who has kicked the ball and has had a reasonable time to regain his balance. RULING: Not a foul by B1 unless ruled as running into or throwing himself against an opponent obviously out of the play (Rule 9-1-12). [Cited by 9-1-16-a-4-a]
  5. After B1 runs into the kicker, kicker A25 simulates being roughed. RULING: Offsetting fouls. [Cited by 9-1-16-b]
  6. Kicker A1, in a scrimmage kick formation, moves laterally two or three steps to recover a faulty snap, or recovers a snap that went over his head, and then kicks the ball. He is contacted by B2 in an unsuccessful attempt to block the kick. RULING: A1 does not automatically lose his protection in either case unless he carries the ball outside the tackle box. While in the tackle box, A1 is entitled to protection as in any other kicking situation. When it becomes obvious that A1 intends to kick in a normal punting position, defensive players must avoid him after he kicks the ball. [Cited by 9-1-16-a]
  7. Punter A22 is 15 yards behind the neutral zone when he catches the long snap, sprints to his right at an angle toward the line of scrimmage, and runs outside the tackle box. He then stops and punts the ball, and is immediately hit by a diving B89. RULING: Legal play, no foul by B89. A22 loses his roughing or running-into protection by carrying the ball outside the tackle box.

ARTICLE 17. Continued Participation Without Helmet


A player whose helmet comes completely off during a down may not continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which he is engaged, whether or not he puts the helmet back on during the down. (A.R. 9-1-17:I)

Approved ruling 9-1-17

  1. During a down B55’s helmet comes off without a helmet foul by Team A. B55 immediately picks up his helmet, puts it on and continues to chase the ball carrier. RULING: Personal foul by B55 for continuing to participate after losing his helmet. The clock stops at the end of the down and B55 must leave the game for the next down (Rule 3-3-9). [Cited by 9-1-17]