We had a bit of a debate about this one and looking for a source or discussion (by authority) around the practice of a center looking between his legs before the snap and then bringing his head forward in a continuous motion while snapping the ball.

So there isn't a rigid movement but the offensive player is clearly gaining momentum while snapping.

So is this a false start and are the any rule differences in high school, college, NFL?


To re-phrase the question, what constitutes a false start?

The NFL rules are discussed at NFL.com. In short the center must keep his head stationary for one second. This time restraint necessarily lends itself to a bit of ambiguity and judgement call from the referee. The rules also mention intent.

So in actual practice the center must have all parts of his body stationary for a brief moment before hiking and none of his movements should be "abrupt" with the intent to draw the defense off-sides.

The NCAAF official rulebook has the same language under Rule 7 Section 1: The Scrimmage - Shift and False Start (pg. FR-71).

The 2014 NFHS official rulebook also has the same language under Rule 7-2 Article 7 (pg. 58) with an emphasis on intent.

To your question:

Technically the center must halt his motion but the rule books leave plenty of leeway for the referee to decide. The intent to draw the defense off-sides is the most significant aspect of the ruling.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.