Rule 9 - Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules
SECTION 3. Blocking, Use of Hands or Arms
Article 1 - Who May Block
Article 2 - Interfering for or Helping the Ball Carrier or Passer
a. The ball carrier or forward passer may use his hand or arm to ward off or push opponents.
b. The ball carrier shall not grasp a teammate; and no other teammate shall grasp, pull, or lift the ball carrier to assist him in forward progress. (A.R. 9-3-2:I)
c. Teammates of the ball carrier or forward passer may interfere with opponents by blocking but shall not use interlocked interference by grasping or encircling one another in any manner while contacting an opponent.
PENALTY − Five yards [S44: ATR].
Article 3 - Holding and Use of Hands or Arms: Offense
a. Use of hands
A teammate of a ball carrier or a forward passer legally may block with his shoulders, his hands, the outer surface of his arms or any other part of his body under the following provisions.
1. The hand(s) shall be:
(a) In advance of the elbow.
(b) Inside the frame of the opponent’s body (Exception: When the opponent turns his back to the blocker). (A.R. 9-3-3:VI and VII)
(c) At or below the shoulder(s) of the blocker and the opponent (Exception: When the opponent squats, ducks or submarines).
(d) Apart and never in a locked position.
2. The hand(s) shall be open with the palm(s) facing the frame of the opponent or closed or cupped with the palms not facing the opponent. (A.R. 9-3-3:I-IV, VI-VIII)
The hand(s) and arm(s) shall not be used to grasp, pull, hook, clamp or encircle in any way that illegally impedes or illegally obstructs an opponent.
PENALTY − 10 yards. Penalties for Team A fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line [S42: IUH/OFH].
c. Kicking team
A player on the kicking team may:
1. During a scrimmage kick play, use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off an opponent attempting to block him when he is beyond the neutral zone.
2. During a free kick play, use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off an opponent who is attempting to block him.
3. During a scrimmage kick play or a free kick play, when he is eligible to touch the ball, legally use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to push an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball.
d. Passing team
An eligible player of the passing team legally may use his hand(s) and/or arm(s) to ward off or push an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball after a legal forward pass has been touched by any player or official (Rules 7-3-5, 7-3-8, 7-3-9 and 7-3-11).
Article 4 - Holding and Use of Hands or Arms: Defense
a. Defensive players may use hands and arms to push, pull, ward off or lift offensive players:
1. When attempting to reach the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier
2. Who are obviously attempting to block them.
b. A defensive player legally may use his hands or arms to ward off or block an opponent in an attempt to reach a loose ball (Rule 9-1-5 Exceptions 3 and 4 and Rule 9-3-6 Exceptions 3 and 5):
1. During a backward pass, fumble or kick that he is eligible to touch.
2. During any forward pass that crossed the neutral zone and has been touched by any player or official.
c. When making no attempt to get at the ball or the ball carrier or simulated ball carrier, defensive players must comply with Rules 9-3-3-a and 9-3-3-b above.
d. Defensive players may not use hands and arms to tackle, hold or otherwise illegally obstruct an opponent other than a ball carrier or simulated ball carrier.
e. Defensive players may ward off or legally block an eligible pass receiver until that player occupies the same yard line as the defender or until the opponent could not possibly block him. Continuous contact is illegal. (A.R. 9-3-5:I)
PENALTY − [c-e] 10 or 15 yards [S38, S42, S43 or S45: IUH/DEH/PF-*].
Article 5 - Use of Hands or Arms by Defense: Passing Downs
During a legal forward pass play in which the pass crosses the neutral zone, if before the pass is touched there is a contact foul by Team B beyond the neutral zone against an eligible receiver (other than pass interference), the penalty includes an automatic first down.
PENALTY − 10 or 15 yards and automatic first down if the first down is not in conflict with other rules [S38, S42, S43 or S45: IUH/DEH/PF-*].
Article 6 - Blocking in the Back
1. Offensive players who are on the line of scrimmage at the snap within the free- blocking zone (Rule 2-3-6) may legally block in the back in the free-blocking zone, subject to the following restrictions:
(a) A player on the line of scrimmage within this free-blocking zone may not leave the zone, return and block in the back.
(b) The free-blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone (Rule 2-3-6).
2. When a player turns his back to a potential blocker who has committed himself in intent and direction of movement.
3. When a player attempts to reach a ball carrier or simulated ball carrier or legally attempts to recover or catch a fumble, a backward pass, a kick or a touched forward pass, he may push an opponent in the back above the waist (Rule 9-1-5 Exception 3).
4. When the opponent turns his back to the blocker under Rule 9-3-3-a-1-b.
5. When an eligible player behind the neutral zone pushes an opponent in the back above the waist to get to a forward pass (Rule 9-1-5 Exception 4).
PENALTY − 10 yards. Penalties for Team A fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line [S43: IBB].