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Football Leaping Penalty

Football Leaping Penalty

Leaping is a penalty that is called on field goal attempts in football. It occurs when a defensive player attempts to jump over the line of scrimmage whether he is successful or not. This action results in a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down.


Definition

A leaping penalty in football is only called on field goals or extra point attempts. When a defensive player attempts to jump over the offensive line in an attempt to block a kick, the referee throws their flag. This penalty always results in a 15 yard personal foul penalty along with an automatic first down. If the penalty occurs on an extra point, the kicking team is allowed to assess the penalty yards on the kickoff.

A leaping penalty is called whether the defensive player touches the offensive lineman or he jumps straight over them. Players used to be able to jump over the line of scrimmage, usually the center, if they made their jump cleanly. If they landed on or touched an offensive lineman with their cleat, then the flag would be thrown, but if they didn't, it was a clean play. This has been amended so that any attempt to jump over someone on a kick is a penalty in the interest of player safety.

A leaping penalty can only be called on a kicking play. There is no foul for attempting to jump over the offensive line on an offensive play or for an offensive player to jump over a defender. Most often, this penalty is called on a player who is attempting to block a kick and gets overaggressive. After the rule change, players do not attempt to hop the line anymore knowing that it will be a penalty.

Result

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFLAFL
Leaping15 Yards, Automatic 1st down15 Yards, Automatic 1st Down15 Yards, Automatic 1st DownN/AN/A

The result of a leaping penalty is 15 yards and an automatic 1st down in the NFL, NCAA, and High School. Since it is a rule put in for the safety of the players, it carries one of the largest penalties in football.

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal leaping

A leaping penalty is classified as a personal foul. When calling a leaping penalty, a referee puts one of their fists to their other wrist and holds the other one out the signal for all personal fouls. They then tell the teams and fans that the personal foul is for leaping and point to whichever team committed the foul.

Examples

  • A defensive lineman attempts to block a kick by jumping forward and lands on top of the offensive lineman who is blocking him
  • A linebacker takes a running start and leaps over the line of scrimmage but hits his foot an offensive lineman and he falls over near the kicker
  • A linebacker clears the offensive line and blocks the kick and returns it for a touchdown

Similar Penalties To Leaping