What Is The Illegal Block Below The Waist Penalty?


What Is The Illegal Block Below The Waist Penalty?

The rule for an illegal block below the waist penalty states that no offensive player can initiate a block on another player below his waist. This means that if an offensive lineman attempts to block someone already beyond his hip level, he can be assessed with an illegal block below the waist penalty. It also applies to other offensive players on the field, including wide receivers and running backs. 

What’s The Purpose Of The Rule?

This rule intends to keep players safe from serious injury by preventing them from blocking players in vulnerable positions such as on their knees or lower body area. If a player initiates contact from below his hip level during a tackle or attempted tackle, he can also be penalized for this action.

It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter if contact is made with the ball carrier; an illegal block penalty can still be called if the initial contact was initiated by a blocker coming at him from below his hip level. 

Importantly, this rule does not apply to defenders since they can make contact with blockers to make plays and defend against opposing offenses. Instead, this rule only applies to offensive players who are actively attempting to make plays on offense and should never attempt to initiate contact while blocking someone who is already in a vulnerable position. 

Why It’s Dangerous

The reason why this type of block is so dangerous is that it can cause a lot of damage to the knees and legs of players. When a player is hit in the knees or legs, it can cause them to break their bones or tear their ligaments.

This type of injury can be excruciating and often require fixing surgery. Players have even been known to suffer from paralysis after being hit in the legs by an illegal block below the waist.

What’s The Resulting Penalty?

The penalty for an illegal block below the waist in American football is 15 yards at all levels. This includes Youth, High School, College, and professional leagues.

Here’s an example in CFB.