Does a Football Snap Have to Be Between the Legs?

American football player (16-20) about to throw football

When a football play or scrimmage down starts, an offensive player on the line, usually the center, snaps the ball backward to a backfield teammate. The ball can be handed, thrown or even rolled to a player behind the line of scrimmage. NFL rules allow centers to snap the ball in one of two ways.

Common Snap Technique

The snapping technique used most often is with the center squatting over the ball, legs spread, shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and grasping the ball with one or two hands. The ball is then snapped through his legs in one continuous motion.

Alternate Snap Technique

The rules state that the ball doesn't have to be snapped between the legs of the center. An alternate technique is with the snapper standing to the side of the ball with his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Instead of snapping the ball through his legs, he snaps it off to the side of his body in one continuous motion.

Alternate Snap Concerns

Snapping the ball off to the side is not the best strategy. A gap in the line is created when the center is sideways to the line of scrimmage. The center is then unable to effectively block the defensive players or protect the quarterback.