Skip to content

Why Is Tripping a Penalty in Football? 4 Main Reasons

Why Is Tripping a Penalty in Football

In an NFL game, you know that a rule has been broken when the yellow flag hits the turf. Once a rule is broken, penalties are given, penalties can make or break a team, and therefore, it is paramount that every player plays according to the rules.

Rules are put in place to protect players and ensure that the games run smoothly. A tripping penalty is thus put in place to avoid injury. Tripping is considered a deliberate action where one player trips a player of the opposing team.

Usually, it occurs while blocking and hence called on the offensive lineman, but a player playing any football position can cause tripping. So, why is tripping a penalty in football? Here are four reasons.

#1. Is It Against the Rules of Football?

Tripping is described by the NFL rule book, rule 3 section 40, as the use of a foot or leg to obstruct a player of the opponent team. Tripping has been prohibited according to rule 12 section 1 article 8. Tripping is prohibited both during the game and afterward.

The penalty also applies to the runner and someone who doesn’t have the ball. So defenders cannot trip runners anymore unlike before when tripping a runner was not considered a foul.

Tripping does not apply to members who are not on the field, a member on the sideline may trip a player on the field, and this is referred to as unnecessary roughness.

The penalty for tripping is 10 yards. Also, it automatically grants an automatic first down on the offense if the foul was committed by the defense.

The signal for tripping is done by the referee. Once tripping has been noted, the referee will cross his legs as a signal for a trip.  He will then stretch his arm and point it towards the offending team’s side.

Tripping is also a foul in soccer, also called football, a foot-centric sport. In soccer, players often use their legs to kick the ball, defend it from the opponent, and score. Because of this, players must have excellent eye-to-leg coordination so that they don’t cause their opponents to fall.

In soccer, a tripping foul often occurs when a player is trying to defend the ball from another player or when trying to take the ball from the opponent. Hence results in unintentional tripping even though intentional tripping may occur.

The rules of soccer differ from the rules of football, and the penalty includes a free kick to the opposite team and a penalty kick if the foul occurred in the penalty area. The player can also be handed a red card or a yellow card.

#2. It Was an Inherited Practice From Rugby?

Many football fans believe that the law against tripping is to protect football stars from injuries. Fans also wonder why a simple act like tripping is outlawed. On the contrary, toppling over a player is allowed.

The answers to the questions rise from the origin of American football. In all football games, including soccer and rugby, tripping is considered a foul. All this can be traced to the origin of American football, which is rugby.

It was proposed by Walter Camp that a clean line of scrimmage should replace scrummaging, which is in rugby.  In rugby, the ball can be fairly contested if a ball is put down, resulting in a turnover. But in football, contests can only start after the snap, thus making the line of scrimmage clean.

Tripping and hacking were once allowed but outlawed because of the danger it poses to players and because they will interfere with a game played with the foot.

#3. The Penalty Ensures Fair Play?

Football is a game that requires tackling skills, each player depending on their football position required to understand how to tackle. When tackling, the player needs to follow the rules to ensure fair play. Why is a tripping penalty in football? Because plays that use tripping as a tactic have unfair advantages over others.

All along the football length, players can tackle their opponents by grabbing their body or jersey to prevent their forward process. Players can also grab their opponents’ legs and hit them with their shoulders. But the game is stopped once the offensive player has been stopped from moving forward or is on the ground.

Tripping is considered an illegal tackle and prevents the game from being fair.

#4. Tripping Can Cause Injury

Without the best football cleats, tripping can cause injury to another player. Bad shoes, in particular, have caused several injuries that range from minor lacerations to soft tissue injuries and bone injuries. If a player does not brace for the impact, he may also result in a serious injury that may include a broken ankle or leg. Also, you may end up flying and hitting the turf.

Some of the most injuries that have been caused by tripping include shoulder fracture, concussion, torn rotator cuff, shoulder separation, shoulder dislocation, whiplash, neck strain, and burner or stringer of the neck. Other more serious injuries include the neck, back, foot, and ankle. Preventing them ensures the safety of players.

Football cleats have been considered among the best items that reduce the risk of injuries for players, with the majority being lower extremity injuries, and tripping increases the occurrence of the injuries. Therefore, some of the major injury prevention in the world cup is to reduce the risks of injuries due to tripping by having penalties.

Also Read:

Final Words

Many fans thought that the only reason tripping attracted penalties in football was to prevent injuries to players. But, that is not the only reason. If you’ve been asking yourself ”why is tripping a penalty in football,” we have discussed the four reasons.

A surprising reason is that the rule was borrowed from other games, including soccer and rugby. It is evident that the rules have also been made to level out the playing field by removing practices that may lead to bullying and unfairness during playing.

Tripping is not common in NFL football, the estimated average is per team league. The low rate could be because of the penalties linked to tripping.

How Long Is A Football Game?