NCAA Rule 9 – Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules

SECTION 3. Blocking, Use of Hands or Arms


ARTICLE 1. Who May Block


Players of either team may block opponents, provided it is not pass interference, interference with the opportunity to catch a kick, or a personal foul (Exception: Rules 6-1-12 and 6-5-4).

ARTICLE 2. Interfering for or Helping the Ball Carrier or Passer



  1. The ball carrier or forward passer may use his hand or arm to ward off or push opponents.

  2. The ball carrier shall not grasp a teammate; and no other player of his team shall grasp, pull, or lift him to assist him in forward progress. (A.R. 9-3-2:I)

  3. Teammates of the ball carrier or forward passer may interfere for him by blocking but shall not use interlocked interference by grasping or encircling one another in any manner while contacting an opponent.

PENALTY –
Five yards [S44].

Approved ruling 9-3-2

  1. In trying to gain yardage, ball carrier A44 is slowed by defensive players attempting to make the tackle. Back A22 (a) puts his hands on the buttocks of A44 and pushes him forward; (b) pushes the pile of teammates who begin to surround A44; (c) grabs the arm of A44 and tries to pull him forward for more yardage. RULING: (a) and (b) Legal. It is not a foul to push the ball carrier or the pile. (c) Foul for assisting the runner. 5-yard penalty with three-and-one enforcement (Rule 9-3-2-b). [Cited by 9-3-2-b]

ARTICLE 3. Holding and Use of Hands or Arms: Offense




  1. Use of hands

    A teammate of a ball carrier or a forward passer legally may block with his shoulders, his hands, the outer surface of his arms or any other part of his body under the following provisions.

    1. The hand(s) shall be:

      1. In advance of the elbow.

      2. Inside the frame of the opponent’s body (Exception: When the opponent turns his back to the blocker). (A.R. 9-3-3:VI and VII)

      3. At or below the shoulder(s) of the blocker and the opponent (Exception: When the opponent squats, ducks or submarines).

      4. Apart and never in a locked position.

    2. The hand(s) shall be open with the palm(s) facing the frame of the opponent or closed or cupped with the palms not facing the opponent. (A.R. 9-3-3:I-IV, VI-VIII)

  2. Holding

    The hand(s) and arm(s) shall not be used to grasp, pull, hook, clamp or encircle in any way that illegally impedes or illegally obstructs an opponent.

  3. PENALTY –
    10 yards. Penalties for Team A fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line [S42].


  4. Kicking team

    A player on the kicking team may:

    1. During a scrimmage kick play, use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off an opponent attempting to block him when he is beyond the neutral zone.

    2. During a free kick play, use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off an opponent who is attempting to block him.

    3. During a scrimmage kick play or a free kick play, when he is eligible to touch the ball, legally use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to push an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball.

  5. Passing team

    An eligible player of the passing team legally may use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off or push an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball after a legal forward pass has been touched by any player or official (Rules 7-3-5, 7-3-8, 7-3-9 and 7-3-11).

Approved ruling 9-3-3

  1. A6 is advancing the ball. During the run, A12 vigorously blocks B2 with a rough push in the back above the waist. RULING: Illegal block in the back. Penalty — 10 yards. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-2]
  2. A teammate of the forward passer or ball carrier, while charging across the neutral zone, contacts an opponent with his hands and arms not parallel to the ground or his hands cupped or closed but with the palms not facing the opponent. RULING: Legal use of hands. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-2]
  3. A teammate of the forward passer or ball carrier, behind the neutral zone, has his arms parallel to the ground and contacts an opponent above the shoulders. RULING: Illegal use of hands. Penalty — 10 yards or 15 yards for personal foul, previous-spot enforcement. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-2]
  4. A teammate of the forward passer or ball carrier delivers a blow with the hand(s) closed to an opponent below the shoulders. RULING: Personal foul. Penalty — 15 yards. Enforce at the previous spot if foul occurs behind the neutral zone. Safety if foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-2]
  5. A2’s hands contact defensive player B2 in a legal block. B2 spins to avoid blocker A2 whose hands then contact B2’s back. RULING: Legal block. [Cited by 2-3-4-a]
  6. A2’s hands contact defensive player B2’s back when B2 spins to avoid A2. A2 keeps his hands on B2’s back while B2 advances toward the forward passer. RULING: Legal block. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-1-b, 9-3-3-a-2]
  7. A2’s hands contact defensive player B2 when B2 spins to avoid blocker A2, whose hands then contact B2’s back. After A2’s hands lose contact with B2, A2 advances and pushes B2 in the back. RULING: Illegal block in the back. Penalty — 10 yards. Enforce at the previous spot if foul occurs behind neutral zone (Rule 2-3-4). Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line. [Cited by 2-3-4-a, 9-3-3-a-1-b, 9-3-3-a-2]
  8. A1 in, beyond or behind the neutral zone contacts an opponent with open hand or with hands closed or cupped and palms not facing the opponent. RULING: Legal block. [Cited by 9-3-3-a-2]
  9. A12 takes the snap and retreats to pass. Defensive end B95 gets past tackle A75 and is about to tackle A12, who is still inside the tackle box. A75 pushes B95 in the back at the numbers to prevent him from making the tackle. A12’s pass is complete for a touchdown. RULING: Foul for an illegal block in the back. Penalty — 10 yards.

ARTICLE 4. Holding and Use of Hands or Arms: Defense




  1. Defensive players may use hands and arms to push, pull, ward off or lift offensive players:

    1. When attempting to reach the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier

    2. Who are obviously attempting to block them.

  2. A defensive player legally may use his hands or arms to ward off or block an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball (Rule 9-1-5 Exceptions 3 and 4 and Rule 9-3-6 Exceptions 3 and 5):

    1. During a backward pass, fumble or kick that he is eligible to touch.

    2. During any forward pass that crossed the neutral zone and has been touched by any player or official.

  3. When making no attempt to get at the ball or the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier, defensive players must comply with Rules 9-3-3-a and 9-3-3-b above.

  4. Defensive players may not use hands and arms to tackle, hold or otherwise illegally obstruct an opponent other than a ball carrier or simulated ball carrier.

  5. Defensive players may ward off or legally block an eligible pass receiver until that player occupies the same yard line as the defender or until the opponent could not possibly block him. Continuous contact is illegal. (A.R. 9-3-5:I)

  6. PENALTY –
    [c-e] 10 or 15 yards [S38, S42, S43 or S45].


ARTICLE 5. Use of Hands or Arms by Defense: Passing Downs


During a legal forward pass play in which the pass crosses the neutral zone, if before the pass is touched there is a contact foul by Team B beyond the neutral zone against an eligible receiver (other than pass interference), the penalty includes an automatic first down.
PENALTY –
10 or 15 yards and automatic first down if the first down is not in conflict with other rules [S38].

Approved ruling 9-3-5


  1. Before a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone is thrown, Team B holds eligible A1, who is beyond the neutral zone. RULING: Team B foul, holding. Penalty — 10 yards and first down, previous-spot enforcement. [Cited by 9-3-4-e]

ARTICLE 6. Blocking in the Back


A block in the back (other than against the ball carrier) is illegal. (A.R. 9-3-3-a:I, VII and IX) (A.R. 10-2-2:XII)

Exceptions:

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

    1. A player on the line of scrimmage within this free-blocking zone may not leave the zone and return and legally block in the back.

    2. 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 of 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 in the back above the waist (Rule 9-1-5 Exception 3).

  4. When the opponent turns his back to the blocker under Rule 9-3-3-a-1-b.

  5. When an eligible player behind the neutral zone pushes an opponent in the back above the waist to get to a forward pass (Rule 9-1-5 Exception 4).

PENALTY –
10 yards. Penalties for Team A fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line [S43].

ARTICLE 7. When Ball is Loose


When the ball is loose, no player shall hold an opponent; illegally block an opponent in the back; twist, turn or pull an opponent’s face mask or any helmet opening; or illegally use his hands or commit a personal foul. (A.R. 7-3-9:I)
PENALTY –
10 or 15 yards. Penalties for these Team A team fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line (Rule 10-2) [S38, S42, S43 or S45].