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Football Illegal Block In The Back Penalty

Football Illegal Block In The Back Penalty

An illegal block in the back penalty is called in football when a player on the offensive or kicking team makes contact from behind and above the waist with an opposing player who doesn’t have the ball. This penalty results in a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.

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Definition

An illegal block in the back penalty, also known as an illegal block above the waist, is called when a player that is attempting to make a tackle gets blocked above the waist from behind. When this happens, the referees determine where the penalty happened and move the ball ten yards back from that spot instead of from the line of scrimmage.

An illegal block in the back penalty is not called if there is a loose ball and the contact was made during an attempt to recover the ball. The penalty is also not called if a player turns their back at the last second leaving the offensive or kicking team player no choice but to block them in the back. Third, a block above the waist does not count as above the waist if the player making contact slides down to below the waist. Lastly, if a blocking player gets either of their hands on the side of the player they are blocking, no penalty is called.

An illegal block in the back penalty can be called on an offensive team but is usually reserved for special teams plays. This is because the gunners are streaking downfield and the player guarding them usually gets caught behind them. This leads them to try and make up for getting beat when the return happens and to block a player in the back.

Result

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Illegal Block In The Back10 Yards from spot of foul10 Yards from spot of foul10 Yards from spot of foul10 Yards from spot of foul

An illegal block in the back penalty results in a 10-yard penalty from the spot of the foul in the NFL, NCAA, High School, and CFL.

Penalty Signal

Football Penalty Signal Illegal Block In The Back

When calling an illegal block in the back, a referee holds one hand forward with their palm out and grabs their wrist with the other hand. They then push their hands forward to signal that the block in the back occurred.

Examples

  • A gunner on the punt team beats their blocker and when the punt is fielded, the blocker blocks the gunner from behind to try and help the returner.
  • A wide receiver catches a pass and another receiver blocks a defender in the back to try and help them break away from defenders.

Similar Penalties To Illegal Block In The Back

FAQ

What is an illegal block in the back penalty in football?

An illegal block in the back is a penalty in football when a player blocks an opponent above the waist from behind. However, if this scenario happens when a player is attempting to retrieve a loose ball, the penalty will not be called. Blocking in the back is an illegal penalty in football due to injury potential associated with the action. It results in a ten-yard penalty against the offending team.

What is the penalty for an illegal block in the back in the NFL?

If a player is called for an illegal block in the back penalty in the NFL, their team will be assessed a ten-yard penalty. This is the standard for all levels of football, as blocking in the back is considered an especially dangerous play.

In most scenarios, it is illegal to block another player in the back in football. However, there is one situation in which blocking in the back is permitted. If a player blocks an opponent in the back while attempting to gain possession of a loose ball, they will not be called for an illegal block in the back. It is also not considered a block in the back if the player makes contact above the waist but slides down to below the waist or uses their hands to shift back into a legal position.

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