What Is Encroachment In Football? Simple Explanation

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What Is Encroachment In Football?

Football is a complex game with dozens of rules and regulations. One of the most important rules to understand is encroachment, which can have serious consequences for teams that fail to comply.

In this post, I’ll look at what encroachment is in football and how it affects teams on the field. 

What Is Encroachment in Football? 

In football, encroachment occurs when an offensive or defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players, as crossing the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped can give a team an unfair advantage. The penalty for encroachment is five yards from the previous spot on offense or a loss of down on defense. 

What Is The Penalty?

The penalty for encroachment is five yards from the line of scrimmage. It can also occur on special teams’ plays, such as punts and field goal attempts.

When Does Encroachment Occur? 

Encroachment typically occurs when an offensive lineman jumps early, or a defensive lineman attempts to rush into the backfield before the ball is snapped. If either team has players who cross the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped, they will be flagged for encroachment.

It’s important to note that if a player’s foot barely crosses over the line but doesn’t touch any part of their body across it, they are not considered to have “encroached,” and no penalty will be called.  

How Can Teams Avoid Encroaching? 

The best way for teams to avoid encroaching is by practicing proper technique and discipline on both sides of the ball. On offense, linemen should stay put until after the quarterback has called out his cadence and set up his stance.

On defense, linemen should wait until after they receive their assignment from their coach before attempting to move into position or rush into the backfield. Doing so will ensure that no one crosses over prematurely and gets flagged for encroachment. 


Encroaching in football can result in costly penalties for offensive and defensive players if not done properly. To avoid these penalties, teams need to make sure that all players remain in their positions until after they hear their assignments from coaches or quarterbacks call out their cadence respectively.