Holding (American football)

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A Dallas offensive lineman holds Giants Justin Tuck, preventing him from tackling Marion Barber.

In gridiron football, holding is the illegal restraining of another player who is not in possession of the ball. Holding is banned in most football leagues because it does not allow fair play of the game and increases the risk for injury.[1]

While in the field of play, offensive holding results in a 10-yard penalty,[2] or half the distance to the goal line when there are fewer than 20 yards between the line of scrimmage and the offense's end zone. If the act of holding is committed from within the offense's own end zone, the result is a safety. It is one of the most common penalties in American football.

In the NFL, when holding is committed by the defense, the penalty is 5 yards and an automatic first down.[2]


  1. ^ NCAA football rules and interpretations
  2. ^ a b "About Football Glossary - Holding" on About.com