ITP Glossary: Encroachment

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.


An encroachment penalty is called if a defensive player enters the neutral zone and makes contact with either an offensive player or the ball. The result is a 5 yard penalty on the defense.

A penalty is called on the defensive player if he contacts the offensive player before the snap, or if he at all interferes with the ball in the process of the snap. In either instance, the play is dead once the flag is thrown and the penalty is five yards from the previous spot (or half the distance to the goal line if the foul occurs inside the ten-yard line).

An example of an encroachment penalty can be seen below, courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy:

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The encroachment penalty differs from a neutral zone infraction, as contact must be made between the defender and the offensive player or ball to have an encroachment penalty called. A neutral zone infraction simply requires a defender to pass into the neutral and cause the offensive player to move. Overall, the encroachment is a less common penalty because contact is required for it to be called.

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

Video courtesy of Draft Breakdown.

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One thought on “ITP Glossary: Encroachment

  1. Please don’t allow my son to see this. I explained the two the other way around on Monday night……

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