In the game of football, a ball carrier can declare themselves down by falling to the ground, kneeling or sliding.
When a ball carrier begins their slide the ball is declared dead once any part of the body other than the player’s hands or feet makes contact with the ground.
When a ball carrier slides the ball will be marked down at the location of the ball when the slide was initiated. The distance gained while sliding will not affect the placement of the ball.
What to know about sliding in football
Defenders are supposed to treat a sliding offensive player as they would a player that is downed by contact.
A defender must also do his best to avoid contact with a ball carrier that is sliding. In some situations the contact between the sliding player and the defender is unavoidable.
Defenders will not be called for all contact made against a sliding ball carrier. Though if the defender makes forcible contact with the head or neck via his helmet, shoulder, or forearm a penalty will be called.
This will result in an unnecessary roughness penalty which means a loss of fifteen yards and an automatic first down.
Ball carriers are not able to take advantage of the protections of a slide. If they wait until the last second to start they slide they may be putting themselves into unavoidable contact with an opponent which will often not result in a penalty.
All information regarding sliding rules in the NFL can be seen in the NFL rulebook Rule 7, Section 2, D
Why do quarterbacks slide?
Now that you know the rules behind sliding in football you may be wondering why pro quarterbacks slide in the first place.
Sliding in football is done for two reasons, one for player safety and two in order to keep the clock running.
Quarterbacks are the most important position in football and sliding helps to keep them healthy. When a quarterback is advancing the football on the ground they are almost always going to try and avoid contact.
The best way to do this is by sliding or by running out of bounds. You will notice quarterbacks will choose one of these two options the vast majority of the time they have the ball in their hands.
By sliding to the ground quarterbacks have a option to pickup some yards in the middle of the field without taking a hit. Choosing to slide is going to cost the team a few yards on most occasions.
But since it keeps the quarterback healthy the loss of a yard or two is gladly accepted by the coaching staff.
Keeping the clock running
In football, incomplete passes and runs out of bounds are going to stop the clock from running in the final few minutes of each half.
In these final minutes teams are often looking for ways to run down the clock if they have a lead.
By sliding a player can be sure to down himself inbounds and keep the clock running.
If a ball carrier such as a quarterback is carrying the ball near the sideline he may choose to slide down instead of travelling out of bounds. This will keep the clock running allowing the team to burn an extra forty or so seconds before the next play.
That is all on the quarterback slide rule in football if you want to learn more check out our guides to the illegal forward pass or learn what it means when an ineligible receiver is downfield.