Flag on the Play: What’s a False Start?

A player can’t move or start the play before the ball moves. This penalty is always against the offense. A false start can happen in one of two ways. 

1st –The ball is placed on the line of scrimmage and is ready for play. The offensive line must be set and cannot move for at least one second before the ball is snapped to the Quarterback. If one or more players move toward the line of scrimmage and the ball has not moved this is a false start. The only exception to this rule is that the Center can move his head right to left. Take a look at the short video below. Everyone moved except the Center and the ball. You can also see the hand signal the referee makes when a false start happens.

2nd – Sometimes, before the ball is snapped, one of the players (a running back, tight end or a wide receiver) move from one spot on the field to another place on the field. If that offensive player is in motion and makes a sudden movement toward the line of scrimmage this is a false start.

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