Football Low Block Penalty

Football Low Block Penalty

The low block penalty in football is called when a player makes a blocking move below the waist on an opposing player. It is very similar to the chop block or cut block, which pertain to blocks below and/or at the knees. Low blocks can be very dangerous, which is why they are considered to be a serious penalty. Low block penalties can only be committed during a change of possession or a kicking play.


The main identifier of this penalty is that it is called during kicking or change of possession plays. Any block below the waist during these times results in a low block penalty, but there are three primary situations in which the low block penalty may be called:

  1. During a change of possession, can be either team
  2. During a kick of any type by the kicking team
  3. During a kick of any type by the receiving team

It is good to note that the low block is not called if the tackle is made against the ball carrier; it is only called in blocking situations, not just any tackle on the runner.


Low Block15 Yards15 Yards15 Yards10 Yards15 Yards

Across all well known North American football leagues, the penalty for committing a low block offense is 15 yards, except for the Canadian Football League, where a 10 yard penalty is signaled. The 15 yard penalty includes the NFL, NCAA, Arena Football League (AFL), and high school football leagues. If the penalty is committed by the defending team, the penalty results in an automatic first down for the offensive team.

Penalty Signal

Similar to the chop block, the referee swings their arms towards right above their knees on their thighs below his or her waist. However, the main difference is that the referee's arms come from out wide as opposed to straight down. Several of the illegal blocking penalties have similar referee motions for signaling the penalty.


  • An interception is made, and a player on the now offensive team makes a block below the waist on a player attempting to help tackle the ball carrier.
  • After a fumble is recovered by the defensive team, when a player on the formerly offensive team makes a block below the waist on a player on the now offensive team who is blocking for the player who made the fumble recovery
  • During a kickoff, when a player on the kicking team makes a block below the waist of a receiving player leading the charge in front of the ball carrier of the receiving team.
  • On a field goal or PAT, when a player on defense makes a block below the waist of a player on the kicking team on the offensive line.

Similar Penalties To Low Block