Football Disconcerting Acts or Signals Penalty

Football Disconcerting Acts

If there’s one penalty that you have almost certainly never seen during a game, it’s a disconcerting acts or signals penalty. In football, a disconcerting acts or signals penalty is a very rare penalty which is almost never called during gameplay. This penalty occurs when the defensive team is trying to mimic the offense’s cadence to trick them. This means that the defense will pose falsely as the quarterback and “hike” the ball, hoping that the offensive players will jump offsideThis penalty is very rarely called because it’s a move that players seldom attempt.


In football, a disconcerting act or signal penalty occurs when a defensive player pretends to be the quarterback, mimicking their cadence and causing confusion on the offensive side of the ball. The penalty is under the umbrella of unsportsmanlike conduct. This penalty cannot be called on anyone on the offensive side of the ball, as they cannot mimic their own cadence. The penalty is often hard to call because of yelling going on from both sides of the field. At times a referee or umpire will hear the defense intentionally mimicking the offense.


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A disconcerting act or signal penalty is under the umbrella of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the entire defense. It is a team penalty rather than an individual penalty. As a result, the penalty for a disconcerting act or signal is 15 yards and an automatic first down for the offense. As the penalty is called so rarely, you may see it only once every few seasons at most.  When it does happen, the offense will add an additional fifteen yards and the defense will be warned to not commit the penalty again.

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal unsportsmanlike conduct

The penalty signal for a disconcerting act or signal is the same as any other penalty that falls under the category of unsportsmanlike conduct. There cannot be a penalty signal for every small penalty, especially for one as rare as a disconcerting act or signal penalty. The signal is a referee holding their arms out, parallel to the ground with their palms down, followed by pointing in the defense’s direction. 


  • A defensive tackle near the center yells “hut, hut, hike” to confuse the opposing center and get them to snap the ball before the quarterback is ready
  • The defensive players yell an offensive line adjustment, causing the offensive line to move
  • A player on the defense matches the quarterback’s voice and yells audibly, confusing the offense

Similar Penalties To Disconcerting Acts or Signals


How common is a disconcerting acts or signals penalty in football?

Disconcerting acts or signals penalties are extremely uncommon at all levels of football. In fact, this penalty is so rare that many football fans do not even know it exists. A disconcerting acts or signals penalty is classified as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and while other unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are common, this specific penalty is hardly ever seen. Many football players or fans will only see a disconcerting acts or signals penalty called once every few seasons. It is even possible that you have never seen this penalty called, but we can assure you that it exists. 

What are the consequences of a disconcerting acts or signals penalty in football?

If a defense is called for a disconcerting acts or signals penalty, the offense is given fifteen yards and an automatic first down. This is not a unique consequence, as this is the standard result of any unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Giving up a free fifteen yards and first down can be catastrophic for a defense, and provide the offense with a boost and renewed morale to score.

What is considered a disconcerting act in football?

A disconcerting act in football is any action in which the defense tricks the offense into what would otherwise be a standard movement at the line of scrimmage. These acts can include mimicking a quarterback's cadence in an attempt to trick the offensive line into committing a false start, calling out an offensive line adjustment that interferes with the offense's legitimate gameplan, or other vocalized attempts to cause the offense to falter or become confused. This behavior falls under the umbrella term of unsportsmanlike conduct, and can be extremely detrimental to a defense when penalized for it.