The Hideout Play in Youth Football
The Hideout Play is an old standard “trick” play that seems to get dusted off the back shelf and recycled every few years. Sometimes called the “2 out and 1 in” or “sleeper” play, the common name is “hideout”. The goal of the play is to get the defense to think a player heading off the field is not part of the play. Often this player will jog off like he is going to the sidelines and ease up just before he crosses the boundary line. He then stays on the field just inside the sideline boundary. In some cases to add effect he may even turn his back to the field and converse with a group of players on the sidelines or even his coach. The offense then snaps the ball and throws to this wide open receiver for an apparent touchdown.
Is This Play Legal?
Some coaches may argue that as long as the hideout player is in the huddle, he is eligible as long as he aligns inside the sideline boundary. One nuance to this play is many teams will bring another player off the bench just as the offense breaks huddle. This gives the illusion that the incoming player is coming in for the “hideout” player. I’ve even seen the hideout and incoming player slap hands like they are doing a substitution. For added effect sometimes the QB will even act like he is giving the incoming player the play with a short whisper etc
This is no doubt a very clever play, but it is always illegal no matter the league you are playing in. All youth football leagues use either NFHS or NCAA rules as their base, and both say this play is illegal and will flag you for a 15 yard penalty.
What the Rules Say
SECTION 6 ILLEGAL PARTICIPATION
ART. 4 It is illegal participation:
d. To use a player, replaced player, substitute, coach, trainer or other attendant in a substitution or pretended substitution to deceive opponents at or immediately before the snap or free kick.
9.6.4 SITUATION B: Following a kickoff return, A1 and A2 enter the field while A3, A4 and A5 move toward the sideline. A5 stops within the 9-yard marks while A3 and A4 continue to the team box. The ball is snapped without a huddle and the quarterback throws a forward pass to A5, who has gone downfield as a wide receiver. RULING: This play is illegal because a pretended substitution is used to deceive the opponents. The penalty of 15 yards for the illegal participation foul will be administered from the previous spot since the foul occurred at the snap. (9-6-4c)
While I have no problem with trick plays like hook and ladders, backwards bounce passes, fake punts and the like, I’m not so sure about this play. Like the “wrong ball” play, it should have no place in youth football.
Thanks to Coach Knight and the other referees that helped me with this ruling.
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