College: 9-3-5

SECTION 3. Blocking, Use of Hands or Arms

Blocking in the Back

ARTICLE 5. A block in the back (other than against the ball carrier) is illegal.

Approved Ruling 9-3-3 I. A6 is advancing the ball. During the run, A12 vigorously blocks B2 with a rough push in the back above the waist. RULING: Illegal block in the back. Penalty—10 yards.

Approved Ruling 9-3-3 VII. A2’s hands contact defensive player B2 when B2 spins to avoid blocker A2, whose hands then contact B2’s back. After A2’s hands lose contact with B2, A2 advances and pushes B2 in the back. RULING: Illegal block in the back. Penalty—10 yards. Enforce at the previous spot if foul occurs behind the neutral zone (Rule 2-3-4). Safety if the foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line.

Approved Ruling 9-3-3 IX. A12 takes the snap and retreats to pass. Defensive end B95 gets past A75 and is about to tackle A12, who is still inside the tackle box. A75 pushes B95 in the back at the numbers to prevent him from making the tackle. A12’s pass is complete for a touchdown. RULING: Touchdown counts. No foul by A75. Such continuing action involving pass protection while the passer remains inside the tackle box are within the spirit of the exception to Rule 9-3-6 and are thus legal. However, if this is a totally separate action and a new block outside the blocking zone, it is a foul for a block in the back.

Approved Ruling 10-2-2 XII. During the return of a scrimmage kick, B40 blocks A80 in the back above the waist at the B-25. Team B’s ball carrier is downed with the ball in his possession at Team B’s 40-yard line. RULING: Team B foul, illegal block in the back. Penalty—10 yards from the spot of the foul. Team B’s ball, first and 10, from its 15-yard line.


1. Offensive players who are on the line of scrimmage at the snap within the blocking zone (Rule 2-3-6) may legally block in the back in the blocking zone, subject to the following restrictions:

(a) A player on the line of scrimmage within this blocking zone may not leave the zone, return and block in the back.

(b) The blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone (Rule 2-3-6).

2. When a player turns their back to a potential blocker who has committed themselves in intent and direction or movement.

3. When a player attempts to reach a runner or legally attempts to recover or catch a fumble, a backward pass, a kick or a touched forward pass, they may push an opponent in the back above the waist (Rule 9-1-5 Exception 3).

4. When the opponent turns their back to the blocker under Rule 9-3-3a-1b.

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].