Referee's Signal Number 16 - Illegal Touching

Illegal Touching

When used

This signal is used to denote illegal touching. This may be used by the Referee when signalling a foul or by any official to indicate a violation.


A violation occurs when a player touches a ball when not permitted - such as a kicking team player during a scrimmage kick touching a ball before a player of the receiving team. This is not a foul, but gives the receiving team the option of taking the ball at the spot of the violation instead of taking the result of the play.


A offensive player may not willingly go out of bounds during a forward pass and then be the first to touch the ball, and if guilty of such an offence this foul applies - the penalty is loss of down (S9), but no loss of yardage.

This foul also applies if an originally inelligible player (eg offensive lineman) is the first to touch a forward pass. The penalty for this is 5 yards from the previous spot.

How executed

Both hands start at the waist and are brought to the shoulder in an unhurried motion.

Finally point to the offending team by stretching an arm out from the shoulder to the horizontal.