Back to Updates

Adopted Playing Rules Change Proposal – Blocking Below the Waist

The playing rules proposal below regarding blocking below the waist was adopted by NFL clubs today:

Amend Rule 3 (Definitions, Page 10) and Rule 12, Section 2, Article 4 (Blocking Below the Waist on Kicks and Change of Possession, Page 49) (new language underlined, deleted language struck through):


ARTICLE 1. TACKLE BOX. The Tackle Box is an area between the outside edges of the normal tackle positions extending from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line. After the ball leaves the tackle box, this area no longer exists.

ARTICLE 2. TIGHT END BOX. The Tight End Box is an area that is between two yards outside the normal tackle positions and extends five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage.


ARTICLE 4. BLOCKING BELOW THE WAIST ON KICKS AND CHANGES OF POSSESSION. Blocks below the waist are prohibited in the following situations:

(a) By players of either team after a change of possession; or

(b) By players of the kicking team after a Free Kick, Safety Kick, Fair-Catch Kick, Punt, Field Goal Attempt, or Try Kick; or

(c) By players of the receiving team during a down in which there is a Free Kick, Safety Kick, Fair-Catch Kick, Punt, Field- Goal Attempt, or Try Kick.; or

(d) By players of either team during a scrimmage down prior to a change of possession unless the contact occurs in the Tight End Box. (Note: Players are prohibited from initiating contact below the waist of an opponent outside of the Tight End Box, except against a runner or a player who is attempting to catch a forward or backward pass.)

Note: The following blocking restrictions may result in a foul even if they occur in the Tight End Box:

  • Illegal cut block. See 8-4-5.
  • See 12-2-1.
  • “Peel Back” Block. See 12-2-2.
  • Chop Block. See 12-2-5.
  • Crackback Block. See 12-2-6.

Penalty: For illegally blocking below the waist: Loss of 15 yards.

Effect: Expands the prohibition against blocking below the waist by offensive and defensive players on scrimmage downs when contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle.

Reason: Player safety.

See the rest of the 2021 approved playing rules