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Football Encroachment Penalty

Football Encroachment Penalty

The encroachment penalty in football is when a defensive player moves across the line of scrimmage and contacts an offensive player prior when the ball is snapped. This penalty results in the offense gaining five yards. Although similar, this penalty is different from an offside penalty on the defense, which is called when a defensive player moves across the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped, because an encroachment penalty includes contact between two players.


The encroachment penalty is called when a defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage and makes contact with an offensive player. An encroachment penalty can also be called if a defensive player makes contact with the ball before it is snapped. The encroachment penalty is always called as a dead ball penalty. This means that the referees will blow their whistle and prevent a play from happening. It is similar to other penalties like false start and neutral zone infraction in this way.

An encroachment penalty is a pre-snap penalty that is very similar to many other pre-snap penalties on the defensive team. The difference between an encroachment penalty compared to an offside penalty or a neutral zone infraction penalty is that an encroachment penalty means that the defensive player makes contact with an offensive player.

An encroachment penalty will not be called if the offensive player is the first person to move. Encroachment has been a penalty since the start of football because of the unfair advantage that it would give to the defense if this type of penalty were not called.

Encroachment penalties are generally very easy for officials to call because it is obvious when the defensive player comes into contact with the offensive player. However, it can be difficult if an offensive player moves at almost the same time as the defensive player goes offside. Encroachment is widely seen as an obvious penalty to notice.


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The result of an encroachment penalty being called will result in a five yard gain for the offensive team.

Penalty Signal

Football Penalty Signal Encroachment

When signaling an encroachment penalty the referee will place both hands on their hips holding their elbows at approximately a 45 degree angle while standing in an upright manner.


  • A defensive player is trying to time the snap, but they mistime it and they cross the line of scrimmage to make contact with an offensive player.
  • The opposing quarterback will use a hard count to try and trick the defense into crossing the line of scrimmage, and it is successful and the defensive player loses their balance and makes contact with an offensive player.

Similar Penalties To Encroachment