What is Holding in Football?

One of the most frequently enforced penalties in football is holding. Holding has different consequences depending on which team does it, but before we go too far ahead…

What in football is holding?

When a player improperly restricts the mobility of another player who is not holding the ball, it is called holding in football. Defensive holding results in a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down for the offense, but offensive holding results in a 10-yard penalty and a replay of the down. The distinction between offensive and defensive holding, the laws governing holding, and the methods used to execute holding fines are all covered in this article. 

Additionally, it discusses whether or not holding results in a loss of down in college football, as well as how it is called and enforced.

What does Football’s Offensive Holding mean?

We’ll start off by talking about the offensive holding penalty. When a player on the offense restrains a player on the defense by tackling or grasping them in a way that prohibits them from defending, this is known as offensive holding. During the action, it makes no difference if the attacking player’s hands are inside or outside the defender’s frame.

Offensive clutching can take many different forms, but there are a few typical ways it manifests itself. The majority of offensive holding infractions involve the player grasping the defender’s torso or jersey to immobilize them. When an offensive player tackles a defender or brings them to the ground entirely, that is the most evident instance of offensive holding.

What does Football’s Defensive Holding mean?

Defensive holding is the alternative to holding. Defensive holding, which is the opposite of offensive holding, is when a defenseman restrains an offensive player who is not in possession of the ball or actively running to catch a pass.

There is no defensive holding penalty (although there may be other penalties called on the play) if the defensive tackles or holds the player who has the ball or a player who is running with the intention of catching the ball. Therefore, a defensive holding penalty will be assessed on the play if a defensive player clutches, tackles, or otherwise restricts another player.

Football Holding Examples

During a football game, holding can be called in a variety of circumstances. There are various holding types that occur regularly because it is such a frequent penalty.

There is a video from the NFL that offers four typical instances of offensive holding. The four instances they give are as follows:

  • Taking hold of an opponent and tackling them 
  • Hooking or turning an opponent 
  • Taking hold of an opponent and turning them 
  • Pulling them to the ground.

A video about defensive holding penalties and their frequency is available from the NFL. The three examples they give to illustrate defensive holding are as follows:

  • A defensive player grabs the jersey of the opposition 
  • A defensive player holds an eligible receiver who is attempting to run a route 
  • A defensive player holds an offensive player to prevent him from blocking.
What’s the punishment for Holding?

Whether holding is defensive or offensive affects the punishment.

The punishment for offensive holding is a loss of 10 yards. Since there is no down loss for offensive holding, the down is replayed after the ball is moved back 10 yards from its original location.

However, the offense will advance up half the distance to the goal, not 10 yards, if there is an offensive holding penalty and there are less than 20 yards remaining. For instance, the defense can be penalized for holding during a play when the offense is 14 yards from the goal line. 

Because they are less than 20 yards from the goal line, the penalty will cause the ball to advance seven yards rather than 10 because of this. A first down will be made on the following play at the seven-yard line.

The NFL Rulebook lists the following as the defensive holding infraction:

(a) A defensive player tackles or holds any opponent who isn’t a runner unless the defense is allowed to use its hands or arms in defense and that is permissible.

(b) B1 pulls an offensive player out of the way during a punt, field goal attempt, or try-kick attempt so that B2 can shoot through the gap (pull-and-shoot) in an effort to block an apparent kick unless B1 is moving in the direction of the kicker.

What is the holding signal?

Both an offensive and a defensive hold are indicated by the same signal. To indicate a holding penalty, the referee will take one hand and seize the opponent’s opposite wrist.

The player and team who committed the holding penalty will then be identified, so the signal can be used for both offensive and defensive holding.

Is Downplaying a Loss Effective?

A down is not lost due to offensive holding. The down is repeated after a 10-yard penalty for offensive holding.

For instance, if an offensive holding is called on 2nd down and 5 with the ball on the 50-yard line, the line of scrimmage is moved back 10 yards to the offense’s 40-yard line, and the 2nd down is replayed. Next up, it’s second down and fifteen.

However, defensive holding grants the offense a first down and a gain of five automatically. Say the defense commits a holding penalty on the play at 3rd down and 9 yards from the opponent’s 40-yard line. On the 35-yard line, the offense begins the following play with a first down.

Holding in Football FAQs

1) What does holding mean in football?

Use his hands or arms to significantly hinder an adversary or to change the defender’s course or angle of pursuit. Whether the blocker’s hands are inside or outside the defender’s body frame, it is still a foul.

2) What distinguishes blocking from holding in football?

In essence, blocking is pushing with a few restrictions: one player may not grab another player or pull in any way while blocking, and the hands may not reach above the line between each player’s armpits; failure to comply will result in a holding penalty.

3) What does a holding call actually mean?

The caller is effectively “parked” and unable to communicate with the person on the other end of the line when a call is put on hold. A pre-recorded message or wait music is typically played to the waiting caller.

4) In football, when may you hold?

It is illegal to call defensive holding within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Defenders are able to make touch with offensive players in this “safe zone”. But outside of this area, there are consequences for violations. Defenders frequently engage in defensive holding when a receiver is sprinting downfield.

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