There seems to be some confusion either real or contrived as to what is and isn’t defensive holding. It seems some coaches seem to feel you and hold an offensive player as long as he isn’t in space and obviously on a passing pattern. Some coaches even have their Defensive Ends hold or even tackle Tight Ends that are trying to go on a pass pattern. I’ve seen other teams even have a Defensive Tackle hook the Tight End around the ankles every time he goes out for a pass. The rules clearly state that defenders are never allowed to hold in an effort to restrain an opponent other than the runner.
NFHS Rule 9-2-3:
ART. 3 . . . A defensive player shall not:
c. Use his hands or arms to hook, lock, clamp, grasp, encircle or hold in an effort to restrain an opponent other than the runner.
So according to the rule book a Tight End can not be held, tackled or hooked if he doesn’t have the football in his hands. Unfortunately many coaches either don’t know that, or they disregard it altogether.
According to the American Football Coaches Associations Ethics Code, Article 3:4 this is what they say about coaches who willfully break the rules:
Coaches who seek to gain any advantage by circumvention, disregard, or unwillingness to learn the rules of the game, are unfit for this association. A coach is responsible for the adherence of the rules by all parties directly involved with the team. The integrity of the game rests mainly on the shoulders of the coach; there can be no compromise.
I fully support what the AFCA says about circumventing the rules and hope youth football coaches everywhere feel the same way about any type of rules that are being circumvented. How is that youth player going to feel about you as a person if you are teaching him to do something illegal? Just think when that player gets to High School and his High School coach calls him out for doing something so blatantly wrong, he might say something back to his High School coach like, well my youth football Coach X says it was ok to do, he had no problem with me cheating. What a reputation you will have earned yourself with that player and High School coach.
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