|Use of Hands, Arms, and Body
1. No player on offense may assist a runner except by
blocking for him. There shall be no interlocking
2. A runner may ward off opponents with his hands and
arms but no other player on offense may use hands or
arms to obstruct an opponent by grasping with hands,
pushing, or encircling any part of his body during a
block. Hands (open or closed) can be thrust forward to
initially contact an opponent on or outside the
opponent’s frame, but the blocker immediately must work
to bring his hands on or inside the frame.
Note: Pass blocking: Hand(s) thrust forward that slip
outside the body of the defender will be legal if
blocker immediately worked to bring them back inside.
Hand(s) or arm(s) that encircle a defender—i.e., hook an
opponent—are to be considered illegal and officials are
to call a foul for holding.
Blocker cannot use his hands or arms to push from
behind, hang onto, or encircle an opponent in a manner
that restricts his movement as the play develops.
3. Hands cannot be thrust forward above the frame to
contact an opponent on the neck, face or head.
Note: The frame is defined as the part of the opponent’s
body below the neck that is presented to the blocker.
4. A defensive player may not tackle or hold an opponent
other than a runner. Otherwise, he may use his hands,
arms, or body only:
(a) To defend or protect himself against an obstructing
Exception: An eligible receiver is considered to be an
obstructing opponent ONLY to a point five yards beyond
the line of scrimmage unless the player who receives the
snap clearly demonstrates no further intention to pass
the ball. Within this five-yard zone, a defensive player
may chuck an eligible player in front of him. A
defensive player is allowed to maintain continuous and
unbroken contact within the five-yard zone until a point
when the receiver is even with the defender. The
defensive player cannot use his hands or arms to push
from behind, hang onto, or encircle an eligible receiver
in a manner that restricts movement as the play
develops. Beyond this five-yard limitation, a defender
may use his hands or arms ONLY to defend or protect
himself against impending contact caused by a receiver.
In such reaction, the defender may not contact a
receiver who attempts to take a path to evade him.
(b) To push or pull opponent out of the way on line of
(c) In actual attempt to get at or tackle runner.
(d) To push or pull opponent out of the way in a legal
attempt to recover a loose ball.
(e) During a legal block on an opponent who is not an
eligible pass receiver.
(f) When legally blocking an eligible pass receiver
above the waist.
Exception: Eligible receivers lined up within two yards
of the tackle, whether on or immediately behind the
line, may be blocked below the waist at or behind the
line of scrimmage. NO eligible receiver may be blocked
below the waist after he goes beyond the line. (Illegal
Note: Once the quarterback hands off or pitches the ball
to a back, or if the quarterback leaves the pocket area,
the restrictions (illegal chuck, illegal cut) on the
defensive team relative to the offensive receivers will
end, provided the ball is not in the air.
5. A defensive player may not contact an opponent above
the shoulders with the palm of his hand except to ward
him off on the line. This exception is permitted only if
it is not a repeated act against the same opponent
during any one contact. In all other cases the palms may
be used on head, neck, or face only to ward off or push
an opponent in legal attempt to get at the ball.
6. Any offensive player who pretends to possess the ball
or to whom a teammate pretends to give the ball may be
tackled provided he is crossing his scrimmage line
between the ends of a normal tight offensive line.
7. An offensive player who lines up more than two yards
outside his own tackle or a player who, at the snap, is
in a backfield position and subsequently takes a
position more than two yards outside a tackle may not
clip an opponent anywhere nor may he contact an opponent
below the waist if the blocker is moving toward the ball
and if contact is made within an area five yards on
either side of the line. (crackback)
8. A player of either team may block at any time
provided it is not pass interference, fair catch
interference, or unnecessary roughness.
9. A player may not bat or punch:
(a) A loose ball (in field of play) toward his
opponent’s goal line or in any direction in either end
(b) A ball in player possession.
Note: If there is any question as to whether a defender
is stripping or batting a ball in player possession, the
official(s) will rule the action as a legal act
(stripping the ball).
Exception: A forward or backward pass may be batted,
tipped, or deflected in any direction at any time by
either the offense or the defense.
Note: A pass in flight that is controlled or caught may
only be thrown backward, if it is thrown forward it is
considered an illegal bat.
10. No player may deliberately kick any ball except as a
punt, dropkick, or placekick.