Football Leg Whip Penalty

Football Leg Whip Penalty

Over the years, football leagues have added certain penalties to the rule books to protect their players from serious injuries. The football leg whip is a move which can seriously injure the opposing player by straining their knees and putting their legs into an unnatural position, which can effectively injure the player and negatively impact their careers.


The leg whip penalty is an illegal move in football which consists of a player using their leg or foot to swipe into the opposing player’s path and trip them. It is a dangerous move and constitutes unsportsmanlike behavior. If the penalized player is deemed to have intent to injure a player, they can be ejected from the game.


PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Leg Whip10-yards, automatic first down if committed by the defenseEjection of player who committed penalty, 15-yard penalty15-yard illegal contact penalty 10-yard penalty,  player subject to disqualification

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal leg whip

When a referee calls a penalty for tripping, they will put one foot behind the other foot’s ankle with their hands at their sides to indicate a tripping motion. If the leg whip is deemed to be unsportsmanlike, the referee may call a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This signal is done by extending the arms horizontally on each side at 90 degrees with the feet planted.


  • Intentionally tripping a player by swiping one’s leg horizontally.
  • Extension of one’s leg while on the ground to trip a running player in your path.
  • Sliding on the playing field with your leg extended to make contact with the leg of an opposing team’s player.


What is a leg whip in football?

A leg whip is an illegal move in football in which a player uses their leg or foot in a whipping motion in order to attempt to trip or topple an opponent. The leg whip is a violation in football, and incurs an automatic penalty. In the NFL, a player who leg whips another player receives a 10-yard penalty, and the offense receives an automatic first down if the defense committed the penalty. In other leagues, such as the NCAA, the punishment for a leg whip is harsher, including a 15-yard penalty and ejection from the game.

Can you challenge a leg whip in football?

A leg whip is classified as a non-reviewable penalty in the NFL rulebook, and thus cannot be challenged by coaches. According to the rulebook, the legality of a block is a judgment call made solely by on-field officials.

What is the difference between a leg whip and a whip route?

A leg whip and a whip route refer to two different situations in football. A leg whip is an illegal move in which a player uses his leg like a whip to attempt to trip another player. Meanwhile, a whip route is a type of offensive running pattern in football, in which a potential receiver begins the play by running one way and then quickly “whips” around in the other direction to make a catch, potentially disorienting the defender.