What Is A Lateral Pass In Football

A lateral pass in football is a pass the travels backwards when passed from one teammate to another. It is important to distinguish a lateral pass from a forward pass in football. A forward pass can only be attempted by the quatrback and only from certain positions of the field.

While a lateral pass can be thrown from any location and can be completed by any player on the field.

How many lateral passes are allowed in football?

The beauty of the lateral pass is that you are allowed to attempt as many lateral passes as you wish on a given play. Unlike the forward pass which can only be thrown once per play the lateral has no limit.

The reasoning for this is simply due to the fact that lateral passes travel backwards. If defenders were forced to cover all receivers for multiple forward passes it would be a nearly impossible task.

While laterals on the other hand have a lower success rate and do not often result in touchdowns.

Is A Lateral A Pass Or Run?

A lateral pass in football is considered a run and not pass. Though in some circumstances a play can count both of these statistics.

If the only pass that occurs on a play is a lateral. Then all the yards gained on the play will be considered rushing yards. If there is a forward pass with no laterals then all the yards are considered passing yards.

Now say a forward pass is thrown then that player laterals to another player who advances the ball. In this case the team has gained passing and rushing yards. The passing yards will make up the distance that the receiver who caught the forward pass travelled.

And the rushing yards will count the yards that are gained after the lateral is caught.

How To Do A Lateral Pass

Completing a lateral pass is quite a simple concept as it is very similar to throwing rugby ball. There are two main ways in which football players pass laterals.

The Toss

The most common way to throw a lateral pass is with a rugby style toss. This throw is quite simple and is done with two hands.

Typically when throwing this pass you place both hands on the bottom half of the ball. You then want to plant one leg and turn at the waist towards the player you wish to throw to.

At this point you want to swing the ball underhand with both of your arms. The result of this pass is an easy to read lobbed pass that will fall into your teammate’s hands. The passes aren’t too quick but are quite easy to catch.

The Shovel

The other way to throw a lateral pass is with a sort of shovel throwing motion. This throwing motion is typically done with one hand and comes out quicker than a toss. The best way to think of a this motion is that you are pushing the ball towards your teammate using the palm of your hand.

This sort of lateral is a little more difficult to catch due to its speed but it will get the ball into your teammate’s hands quicker.

These shovel passes are also used in short forward passing situations when the quarterback is looking to get rid of the ball quickly.

Can A Lateral Pass Hit The Ground

Yes a lateral pass can hit the ground in football but once it does this ball is live to either team. What we mean by live is that either team that takes grabs the ball will take possession.

When one of these passes hits the ground it is considered a fumble. So the play won’t be blown dead once it hits the ground. But it will open up an opportunity for the other team to take possession of the ball.

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