Football Illegal Formation

What is an Illegal Formation Penalty in Football?

An illegal formation penalty is a penalty in football that is called on a team when players are lined up in an illegal formation at the time of the snap. An illegal formation may involve multiple players outside of the hash marks lined up off the ball, more than the allotted number of players in the backfield, or a player out of position. This penalty results in a 5-yard loss and is most often called on the offense.

There are various rules that go into deciding what an illegal formation is but the basics are this: a player can't be out of position without notifying the officials of the player changing positions, only a certain amount of players are allowed to line-up outside of the hash marks, and only a certain amount of players may line up in certain areas of the field (such as only seven players allowed on the line of scrimmage and five in the backfield).


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