NFL Video Rulebook Illegal Shift

Rule 7 Section 4 Article 7

Rule Summary View Official Rule


The offensive team is permitted to shift and have two or more players in motion multiple times before the snap. However, after the last shift, all players must come to a complete stop and be in a set position simultaneously for at least one full second.

If any eligible backfield player goes in motion (one at a time) after the last shift and comes to a complete stop, there is no requirement for a full second pause before a second player can legally go in motion.

However, if the first player has not come to a complete stop when the second player goes in motion, it is another shift and requires another simultaneous stop for at least one full second by all players.

It is also an illegal shift if a player under or behind center goes in motion and fails to come to a complete stop for at least one full second before a second player goes in motion.

Note: The offensive team must present a legal formation both before and after a shift.

Penalty: For an illegal shift: Loss of five yards.