I've noticed that sometimes an offensive lineman will seem to get down in his stance but then stand back up to listen to the Quarterbacks' audible.

But when he is in his stance and merely twitches its called for a false start.

When can an offensive lineman move and when is it a false start?

  • You'll notice those lineman are very careful not to move their feet.
    – user252
    Feb 25, 2012 at 5:18
  • Can a Tight End move(reset) once in three point stance laterally?
    – user6417
    Oct 6, 2014 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


Those movements are treated the same as a shift prior to the play or a tight end going into motion. From page 98 of the college football rule book (emphasis mine):


a. If a snap is preceded by a huddle or shift, all players of the offensive team must come to an absolute stop and remain stationary in their positions, without movement of the feet, body, head or arms, for at least one full second before the ball is snapped (A.R. 7-1-4-I) [S20].

b. It is not intended that Rule 7-1-4-a should prohibit smooth, rhythmical shifts if properly executed. A smooth cadence shift or unhurried motion is not an infraction. However, it is the responsibility of an offensive player who moves before the snap to do so in a manner that in no way simulates the beginning of a play. After the ball is ready for play and all players are in scrimmage formation, no offensive player shall make a quick, jerky movement before the snap, including but not limited to (A.R. 7-1-4-II-IV):

  1. A lineman moving his foot, shoulder, arm, body or head in a quick, jerky motion in any direction [S19].

So, it appears that the spirit of the rule is not to prevent movement before the snap of the ball, but to prevent the offensive players from simulating the snap. This, to me, largely seems like a judgement call on behalf of the officials but it is pretty obvious that when the whole offensive line turns around to look at the sideline that they are not attempting to simulate a snap. I'm assuming that the spirit of the rule is the same in the NFL as referenced by corsiKa's answer.


According to the official rules (emphasis mine),

No interior lineman may move abruptly after taking or simulating a three-point stance.

My suspicion is that if they get up slow enough, it's not an abrupt action, and therefore not guilty of a false start.

However, I have seen some trick plays that revolve around the QB getting up slow. The infamous "wrong ball" is one, and another is where the snap is just so slow the defense isn't ready for it.

  • Yes, but as a back the QB can get up and move as much as he wants, providing he sets for one second before the snap.
    – user252
    Feb 25, 2012 at 5:18
  • You can get up and move, but you can't flinch. There's a difference between a deliberate motion and an obvious misfire.
    – corsiKa
    Feb 25, 2012 at 12:53
  • Well, yes, of course. No "simulating the snap" and all that.
    – user252
    Feb 25, 2012 at 15:57

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