NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

Illegal Motion

Rule Summary View Official Rule


When the ball is snapped, one player who is lined up in the backfield may be in motion, provided that he is moving parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage. No player is permitted to be moving toward the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. All other players must be stationary in their positions.

If an eligible receiver who is on the line moves to another position on the line (not forward), he must reset prior to the snap. If he does not reset, it is Illegal Motion.

It is also Illegal Motion, if a player under or behind center goes in motion and fails to come to a complete stop for at least one full second prior to the snap.

Penalty: For a player illegally in motion at the snap: Loss of five yards.