HomeMore Sports


American Football101ArticlesBowl GamesCoachingCollege FootballDefensive AlignmentsDrillsEquipmentFlag FootballGlossaryHow ToKick TypesLeaguesNFL FootballNFL TeamsOffensive FormationsOfficialsPass TypesPenaltiesFootball Chop BlockFootball Clipping PenaltyFootball Defensive Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Defensive Holding PenaltyFootball Defensive Offside PenaltyFootball Defensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Delay Of Kickoff PenaltyFootball Disqualification PenaltyFootball Double Foul PenaltyFootball Encroachment PenaltyFootball Facemask PenaltyFootball Fair Catch Interference PenaltyFootball False Start PenaltyFootball Horse Collar PenaltyFootball Illegal Bat PenaltyFootball Illegal Blindside Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Block Above The Waist PenaltyFootball Illegal Contact PenaltyFootball Illegal Crackback PenaltyFootball Illegal Cut Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Formation PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Handoff PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Kick Kicking Loose Ball PenaltyFootball Illegal Motion PenaltyFootball Illegal Peel Back PenaltyFootball Illegal Shift PenaltyFootball Illegal Substitution PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Kick PenaltyFootball Illegal Use Of Hands PenaltyFootball Illegal Wedge PenaltyFootball Incomplete Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Kick PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Receiver Downfield PenaltyFootball Intentional Grounding PenaltyFootball Invalid Fair Catch Signal PenaltyFootball Kick Catch Interference PenaltyFootball Kickoff Out Of Bounds PenaltyFootball Leaping PenaltyFootball Leverage PenaltyFootball Low Block PenaltyFootball Neutral Zone Infraction PenaltyFootball Offensive Holding PenaltyFootball Offensive Offside PenaltyFootball Offensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Offside On Free Kick PenaltyFootball Offside PenaltyFootball Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Penalties ListFootball Personal Foul PenaltyFootball Player Out Of Bounds On Kick PenaltyFootball Roughing The Holder PenaltyFootball Roughing The Kicker PenaltyFootball Roughing The Passer PenaltyFootball Running Into The Kicker PenaltyFootball Taunting PenaltyFootball Too Many Men On Field PenaltyFootball Tripping PenaltyFootball Unnecessary Roughness PenaltyFootball Unsportsmanlike Conduct PenaltyFootball Use Of Helmet PenaltyPlayersPlaysPositionsQuestionsRulesScrimmage DownsSkills And TechniquesStatisticsStrategyTeam StaffThe FieldTrophies
  1. Home
  2. American Football
  3. Football Illegal Wedge Penalty

Football Illegal Wedge Penalty

Football Illegal Wedge Penalty

An illegal wedge penalty in American football is called on blockers when two or more of them line up in a "wedge" blocking formation, typically within two yards of each other connected by the arm, in an attempt to protect their ball carrier from being tackled by defenders on the opposing team. The rule was implemented in the game mostly in an attempt to reduce risk of injury during, the already very dangerous, kickoffs.


Table of Contents



Wedge blocks are an effective way for return teams on kickoffs to contain and reduce the number of open lanes, or pathways, that are possible for defenders to take to get to, and tackle, the ball carrier on the kickoff return. A wedge block is formed when two or more players purposefully line up two yards or less apart and link themselves together, either by locking arms or holding hands, effectively creating a wall, in an attempt to block for the returner.

Because of the effectiveness of this type of block and its widespread use within the football playing community, it became common strategy among football teams to send a player, known as a "wedge-buster," running full speed downfield during kickoff with the sole intention of generating as much force as possible on impact to disrupt and destroy the wedge formation. This increased the number of high speed collisions happening during kickoff, a play already notorious as being the most dangerous play in football. It also greatly increases the risk of arm and shoulder injuries for players participating in the block because of the way that the players link themselves together.

In 2009, coming to the conclusion that too many players were being injured while colliding and/or participating in a wedge block, the NFL's owners came together to ban the formation from use starting in the 2009 season. College football soon followed suit in their 2010 season as well in an attempt to reduce the amounts of injuries sustained during kickoff. No actual contact must be made for the foul to be called on a group of blockers. The simple act of forming the wedge with the intention to block is enough to warrant a penalty.



Defensive Delay of Game15 Yards15 Yards15 YardsN/AN/A

The result of an illegal wedge penalty, in leagues that recognize it, is 15 yards.


Penalty Signal

Football Penalty Signal Interlocking

When wedges and interlocking are called, referees use a pushing movement of their hands to the front with their arms downward and palms forward.



  • Three players set-up a wedge block, lining up two yards apart and holding hands, but never actually made contact with a defender. Even though there is no contact, this is still a penalty.
  • Four blockers set up right in front of their returner at the beginning of kickoff with their arms interlocked, successfully blocking defenders.

Similar Penalties To Illegal Wedge


  • am-300x250.jpg
  • apst-300x250.jpg