Football hurdles occur when a ball carrier jumps over a defender whose feet are only touching the ground.
The rulebook states that if a player’s knees or arms are resting on the ground, it is no longer considered a hurdle.
Is Hurdling illegal in Football?
It depends on which league you play in whether hurdles are legal or illegal. At the highest level, hurdles are legal.
For example, the NFL does not penalize offensive players for hitting defensive players.
A leaping penalty will result if an offensive lineman is hit on a field goal attempt.
In the NCAA, hurdling is a legal sport, but it wasn’t always this way. Twenty years ago, the NCAA punched players who hurled.
Hurdling is almost always illegal in high school football. This rule was implemented to protect the players.
It is a fifteen-yard penalty for illegal contact/personal foul if you commit a hurdle at the high school level. However, if a defensive lineman gets his body cut, you can legally hurdle his body. That is unless the player has more than just his feet on the ground.
In High School Football, Why are Hurdles Illegal?
There are several reasons why high school football players cannot hurdle, but the short answer is player safety.
Firstly, these are high school football players. They lack the skill level found in NCAA or NFL games. If a high schooler attempts a hurdle, he has a much lower chance of succeeding.
Secondly, you force the defender into an illegal tackle. High school football players should wrap their opponents and bring them to the ground. This isn’t possible with a hurdler.
In essence, you are forcing them to either spear tackle you in the air or take you low, which usually results in a flip.
At the high school level, this play was ultimately banned because these actions make the game less safe for both offensive and defensive players.
Hurdling To Block A Field Goal
There is also debate about running over the lineman in a field goal attempt. In recent years, players have been attempting to hurdle over the formation protecting the kicker to attempt to block the kick.
Now players cannot leap over the line on a field goal if they are more than one yard away from the line of scrimmage when the play is snapped.
Jumping over the line does not require a running start. You also cannot get help from your teammates to jump over the line. Something the Seahawks took advantage of on field goals.
According to the NFL rule book, the rule is as follows:
Jumping across the line of scrimmage in an apparent attempt to block a field goal, try kick, or apparent kick. This is unless the leaping player is stationary within one yard of the line of scrimmage.
Unless he crosses the line of scrimmage or lands on a player, a player who is more than one yard behind the line of scrimmage may run forward. He may leap. – NFL Rulebook.
What are the Most likely Positions to be Jumped Over?
On defense, you might wonder how you can avoid hurdles. You can make yourself less likely to be hurdled by picking a position where it rarely occurs.
Almost always, defensive backs are the positions that get hurdled in football.
Defensive backs tend to get injured more often than others for two reasons. First, they are usually the shortest players on the defense, which makes them much easier to hurdle.
Most defensive linemen and linebackers are quite tall, which makes tackling them difficult.
Due to their smaller size, cornerbacks and safeties are more likely to tackle low when a ball carrier approaches.
Due to defensive backs’ common method of using low tackles, the only time a player can successfully hurdle a defender is when they aim for a low tackle.
It is possible for ball carriers to jump over linebackers occasionally, but since these players tend to be quite tall, this is rare.
Check out our guides on strafing in football or why football players tape their fingers if you enjoyed this guide on hurdles in football.