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NFL

What is a SNAP infraction penalty?

In the NFL, a snap infraction is illegal when the center moves the ball before the “snap”. We guide you through the few ways a penalty can be obtained.

Update:
In the NFL, a snap infraction is illegal when the center moves the ball before the “snap”. We guide you through the few ways a penalty can be obtained.
Kevin JairajUSA TODAY Sports

The NFL rulebook embodies all the information governing the playing of professional football. But sometimes terms that are related to disqualifications or penalties can be confusing or overlooked. In this article we’ll tackle what a snap infraction penalty means and how it works.

A snap , also known as "pass from center," is the backwards passing of the ball in football, at the start of play from scrimmage.

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What is a SNAP infraction penalty?

Simply, a snap infraction penalty is essentially a false start penalty on the center.

The innermost lineman of the offensive line, or the center, can move the ball and position it however he wants prior to getting set. However, once the team is set, the ball cannot be moved, or else it will be penalized; that’s why it’s also called a false start.

The center can be called for an illegal snap if he moves the ball before the snap, and there are a few ways this can become a penalty: picking up the ball or moving it forward, rotating the ball around end-to-end, or removing both hands.

Any slight movement can draw a flag from the referees for the dead-ball penalty that results in a loss of five yards.

In order for the center to avoid a snap penalty, there are specific requirements to follow: the ball must be still on the ground, the “snap” has to be in a single rapid and continuous motion, and most importantly, the center must wait for all referees to be ready in their positions for the next play.

This way, both teams start the play the same way, with no center “faking out” the defense or the offensive players.

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