One critical aspect of football is blocking, which involves players using their bodies to impede the progress of opponents.
However, not all blocks are legal, and understanding the difference between legal and illegal blocks is essential for players, coaches, and fans alike.
Here we’ll look at the various types of blocks in football, the rules governing them, and provide examples and case studies to illustrate the concepts.
The Importance of Blocking in Football
Blocking plays a vital role in football, as it allows offensive players to create space and protect the ball carrier.
It can be the difference between a successful play and a failed one.
Effective blocking enables running backs to find running lanes, quarterbacks to have time to throw the ball, and receivers to get open.
On the defensive side, proper blocking techniques can disrupt the opposing team’s plays and create opportunities for turnovers.
Legal Blocks in Football
Legal blocks are an integral part of the game and are allowed within certain parameters defined by the rules.
These blocks are essential for players to gain an advantage over their opponents without resorting to illegal tactics.
Let’s explore some of the legal blocks commonly used in football:
1. Shoulder Block
A shoulder block is a legal technique where a player uses their shoulder to make contact with an opponent.
The key to a legal shoulder block is to make contact with the opponent’s chest or shoulder area rather than targeting the head or neck.
2. Cut Block
A cut block is a legal technique where a player attempts to block an opponent by diving at their legs.
This type of block is often used by offensive linemen to take down larger defensive players and create running lanes.
However, there are specific rules governing cut blocks to prevent unnecessary injuries.
For example, a cut block is only legal if the blocker is facing the opponent and makes contact above the knee.
3. Reach Block
A reach block is a legal technique where an offensive lineman tries to block a defender who is lined up on the opposite side of them.
This block requires the offensive lineman to quickly move laterally and extend their arms to make contact with the defender.
The goal is to seal off the defender and create a running lane on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.
4. Trap Block
A trap block is a legal technique where an offensive lineman allows a defensive player to penetrate the line of scrimmage before blocking them from the side.
This type of block is often used to create running lanes by using the defender’s momentum against them.
The key to a legal trap block is to make contact with the defender’s side rather than hitting them from behind.
Illegal Blocks in Football
While blocking is an essential part of football, there are certain actions that are considered illegal and can result in penalties or even ejections.
These illegal blocks are designed to intentionally harm or deceive opponents and are strictly prohibited by the rules.
Let’s examine some of the illegal blocks in football:
1. Chop Block
A chop block is an illegal technique where one player blocks another player below the waist while a teammate engages them above the waist.
This type of block is dangerous and can lead to severe knee injuries.
The chop block is strictly prohibited in football at all levels to protect player safety.
2. Blindside Block
A blindside block is an illegal technique where a player blocks an opponent who is unaware of the impending contact.
This type of block often occurs when a player is hit from the side or behind without seeing the blocker.
Blindside blocks are considered dangerous and can result in penalties for unnecessary roughness.
3. Crackback Block
A crackback block is an illegal technique where a player blocks an opponent who is moving towards the direction of their own end zone.
This type of block often occurs when a receiver or tight end comes back towards the line of scrimmage to block a defender.
Crackback blocks are prohibited to prevent unnecessary injuries and protect the defenseless player.
4. High-Low Block
A high-low block is an illegal technique where one player blocks another player simultaneously above and below the waist.
This type of block is dangerous and can lead to severe knee injuries.
High-low blocks are strictly prohibited in football to protect player safety.
Case Studies: Legal vs. Illegal Blocks
Examining real-life examples can provide further clarity on the difference between legal and illegal blocks in football.
Let’s explore two case studies:
Case Study 1: Legal Block
In a football game, an offensive lineman executes a shoulder block on a defensive player.
The offensive lineman makes contact with the defender’s chest, maintaining a legal target area.
The block allows the running back to gain significant yardage and ultimately score a touchdown.
This example demonstrates a legal block that contributes to the success of the offensive play.
Case Study 2: Illegal Block
In another football game, a wide receiver attempts a blindside block on a defensive player who is unaware of the impending contact.
The wide receiver hits the defender from the side, causing the defender to fall to the ground and suffer a head injury.
The blindside block is deemed illegal, and the wide receiver is penalized for unnecessary roughness.
This example highlights the dangers of illegal blocks and the potential for serious injuries.
Illegal Block Above The Waist
FAQs – Difference Between Legal & Illegal Blocks in Football
1. What is the purpose of blocking in football?
Blocking in football is used to create space, protect the ball carrier, and disrupt the opposing team’s plays.
It is an essential aspect of the game that can determine the success or failure of a play.
2. Are all blocks legal in football?
No, not all blocks are legal in football.
There are specific rules governing blocking techniques to ensure player safety and fair play.
3. Can a legal block result in a penalty?
While legal blocks are allowed within the rules, certain actions within a block can still result in penalties.
For example, if a player uses excessive force or hits an opponent in the head or neck area, a penalty may be called.
4. Why are illegal blocks prohibited in football?
Illegal blocks are prohibited in football to protect player safety.
These blocks often involve dangerous techniques that can lead to severe injuries, such as knee injuries or concussions.
5. How do referees determine if a block is legal or illegal?
Referees use their judgment and knowledge of the rules to determine if a block is legal or illegal.
They consider factors such as the technique used, the target area, and the intent of the blocker.
6. Can a player be ejected for an illegal block?
Yes, depending on the severity of the illegal block and the league’s rules, a player can be ejected from the game for an illegal block.
Ejections are often reserved for intentional or flagrant violations.
7. Are there different rules for blocking in different football leagues?
While the basic principles of blocking remain the same across different football leagues, there may be slight variations in the rules governing specific techniques.
It is essential for players and coaches to familiarize themselves with the rules of the league they are participating in.
8. Can a legal block be considered a foul if it results in an injury?
Even if a block is legal, if it results in an injury, it can still be considered a foul if the referees determine that the player used excessive force or engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct.
9. Are there any exceptions to the rules for blocking?
There may be specific exceptions to the rules for blocking in certain situations, such as on special teams plays or during a quarterback sneak.
These exceptions are typically outlined in the rulebook and should be understood by players and coaches.
10. Can a player be fined for an illegal block?
In professional football leagues, players can be fined for illegal blocks that violate the league’s rules.
Fines are often used as a deterrent to discourage dangerous play.
Understanding the difference between legal and illegal blocks in football is critical for players, coaches, and fans.
Legal blocks are essential for gaining an advantage over opponents within the rules, while illegal blocks are strictly prohibited to protect player safety.
By familiarizing themselves with the various types of blocks and the rules governing them, individuals can appreciate the strategic and physical aspects of the game while ensuring fair play and player welfare.