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Football Out Of Bounds

What is football out of bounds? Get ready to learn about out of bounds in football.

What is Out of Bounds in Football?

Out of bounds in football is the area outside of the playing field, marked with white turf and designated by a line that lines the perimeter of the field. The out of bounds area surrounds the playing field on the sidelines and the back of each endzone.


When a player goes out of bounds while he is in possession of the football, the official blows the whistle and the ball is placed on the yard line at which they stepped out of bounds for play to begin on the next down. Some players intentionally step out of bounds to stop the play.

Here are some basic rules about going out of bounds on the field:

  • If a receiver catches the ball and any part of their body lands out of bounds before two of their feet land in-bounds, the pass is incomplete.
  • If a fumble falls out of bounds, the ball is given to the team that last had possession of the football.
  • If a player runs out of bounds during a play, they must return in-bounds and take multiple steps to be considered an eligible player.

Receivers often must have good footwork to stay in bounds and catch a pass which is headed out of bounds.


College Football Rules

In college football, receivers only have to touch down one foot in bounds after catching a pass before they step out of bounds. This makes it easier to complete a pass that is headed out of bounds.


In the NFL, if a coach believes the referees made an incorrect ruling about a receiver stepping out of bounds for an incomplete pass, they can challenge the call. This is one play that coaches often will use a challenge on, as an incomplete pass versus a complete pass can be a big difference, and it is an easy call to get wrong as a referee.

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