Revised Intentional Grounding, Chop Block Rules Headline 2022 High School Football Rules Changes

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 16, 2022) – A new rules exception that allows a passer to intentionally throw an incomplete forward pass for the purpose of conserving yardage, and the redefining of the term “chop block” – both of which are intended to minimize risk of injury – are the two most notable rules changes coming to high school football for the 2022 season.

These changes stand out among the seven total recommendations brought forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee, which held its annual rules meeting January 23-25 at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The NFHS Board of Directors subsequently approved all seven of the committee’s suggestions.

“With this year’s rules changes, the committee once again showed its focus on minimizing risk in high school football,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS Director of Sports and Sports Medicine and liaison to the NFHS Football Rules Committee. “By expanding the parameters for a legal forward pass and redefining the chop block so it can be more easily officiated by game officials, the committee has taken measures to mitigate two potentially risky situations within the game.”

Rule 7-5-2 EXCEPTION 2 now permits a player to purposefully throw an incomplete forward pass without warranting an intentional grounding penalty provided the passer is outside of “the pocket” (lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone) and the pass reaches the neutral zone or the extension of the neutral zone beyond the sideline.

“The question (with this rule) has always been, ‘if the defense makes a good play, are we bailing out the offense by letting the quarterback throw the ball away?’” said Richard McWhirter, Chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and Assistant Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. “This year, I think the committee felt the wellbeing of the passers and not subjecting them to extra hits was worth changing the rule.”


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