Roughing the holder is a fifteen-yard personal foul that occurs when a defensive player makes illegal contact with the holder. A roughing the holder penalty can occur before or after a kick is made.
A holder can not be contacted at any point during a field goal if it is reasonably certain that a kick will take place.
The reason for this is because the NFL rulebook states that a holder is a protected position. This means that so long as the holder is still acting as the holder then he can not be legally contacted.
At this point, you may be wondering when is a holder not a holder? The only situation in which a holder can be contacted is when there is a bad snap.
For example, if there is a high snap causing the offense to abandon the field goal attempt then there is no longer a reasonably certain chance that a kick will take place.
If the holder in this situation picks up the bad snap he is now considered a ball carrier and not a holder.
What Exactly Is A Holder
To understand a roughing the holder penalty you need to know what a holder is. A holder also referred to as a place holder is a football position that is responsible for holding the football during field goal attempt.
The holder must catch the snap from the long snapper, place the ball on the ground, and rotate it so that the kicker is not kicking into the laces of the football.
The holders job is often unappreciated on a football team but if they fail to catch the snap then are massive consequences.
In most cases, the holder position is going to be played by a backup quarterback or the punter. The backup quarterback is often selected because this player can also pass the ball in situations in which the team opts to try a trick play.
Can You Tackle The Holder In Football
No, if you tackle the holder in football you will be assessed a fifteen yard roughing the holder penalty. At any point that a field goal is reasonably certain to happen, you cannot tackle the holder.
The reason for this rule is for health and safety. After catching the ball the holder is going to be looking down towards the ball. They are also forced to stay in a vulnerable position in order to hold the ball.
This puts the holder in a vulnerable position. Since this player is in this position and is defenseless the NFL put in a rule in order to protect them.
This is why you cannot tackle a holder in the NFL.
There is only one situation in which a holder can be tackled. As we stated earlier this occurs when it is no longer reasonably certain that a field goal is going to happen.
For example, if the holder fumbles the snap and picks it up in an attempt to run. At this point, the holder is no longer protected and is now considered a ball carrier.
This removes all protections of the player as he is no longer defenseless and in a vulnerable position.