ITP Glossary: Offensive Holding

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Offensive Holding

Offensive holding is a penalty most frequently called against offensive linemen, and is given for holding onto a defender to prevent them from getting past or around the offensive player. A holding penalty costs the offense 10 yards (or half the distance to the goal if the ball is within the 20 yard line.)

Holding is called when a player at any position on offense holds a defender and impedes them from moving. While “holding” of the jersey is generally tolerated along the inside of a player’s pads along the offensive and defensive lines, anything at or outside of the shoulders is likely to be flagged. While holding is most often called on offensive linemen, tight ends and wide receivers will be called for holding if they impede defenders from reaching the ball carrier.

The below example of holding comes from the 2015 game between the University of Florida and University of Georgia, early in the third quarter. On an outside zone run to Kelvin Taylor (#21), left guard Martez Ivey (#73) gets his hands on the shoulders of defensive tackle James DeLoach #89 and holds his jersey to stop him from gaining outside leverage.

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Holding can also be called when a blocker prevents a defender who has fallen to the ground from getting up. According to the NFL Rule Book: “If a blocker falls on or pushes down a defender whose momentum is carrying him to the ground, offensive holding will not be called unless the blocker prevents the defender from rising from the ground.” As long as the offensive player does not hold the defender against the ground, holding will not be called.

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Ryan Dukarm wrote this entry. Follow Ryan on Twitter @DBRyan_Dukarm.

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