Can You Hurdle in High School Football?

Hurdling, a skill often seen in NFL and NCAA football games, involves a player jumping over an opponent to avoid being tackled. However, when it comes to high school football, the rules differ, and many wonder if hurdling is allowed during these games. Understanding the rules of high school football is crucial for both player safety and adherence to the sport’s regulations.

High school football has a strict no-hurdling rule that was instituted in 2012. This rule results in a 15-yard penalty for players who attempt to leap over opponents during gameplay. The regulation was put in place to ensure the safety of young athletes, as hurdling can lead to dangerous situations and potential injuries on the field.

Despite its prohibited status in high school football, hurdling continues to be a topic of debate. Some argue that allowing this maneuver may, in fact, help players avoid injury as they leap over potential tacklers. Nevertheless, the no-hurdling rule remains in effect, and high school players must abide by this regulation in order to ensure fair and safe gameplay for all involved.

Basics of Hurdling in Football

In football, hurdling is a technique used by players to jump over defenders in an attempt to avoid being tackled. Although this skill is seen in college and professional football, its legality in high school football varies.

Rule Significance

In college football and the NFL, hurdling is a legal move for players to avoid tackles. However, in high school football, the “no-hurdling” rule has been in effect since 2012, making it illegal for players to perform this maneuver. This rule was implemented to reduce the risk of injuries for both the player attempting to hurdle and the defender trying to make the tackle. While some detractors argue that high school football should allow hurdling to align with college and professional rules, others believe that keeping the rule in place prioritizes player safety.

Physical Requirements

Hurdling requires a combination of agility, speed, and power from an athlete. Players who wish to develop their hurdling skills typically have a strong background in track and field events, particularly in jumping events such as long jump and high jump. Practicing jumping drills and enhancing lower body strength can be beneficial for players who want to incorporate hurdling into their skillset.

However, it is crucial for high school football players to remember that hurdling is not permitted in their games and attempting to do so could result in penalties for their team. It is essential for young athletes to be aware of the rules and prioritize safety while honing their skills on the field.

Regulation Differences

High School

In high school football, hurdling is not allowed and is considered illegal. The no-hurdling rule was implemented in 2012 as a safety measure to protect athletes from potential injuries. Violating the hurdling rule can result in a 15-yard penalty.


Unlike high school football, college-level football allows hurdling under certain conditions. Players are permitted to hurdle over opponents as long as they avoid making contact with the opponent’s helmet. This increases the level of athleticism and excitement in the game, while still maintaining safety regulations to prevent unnecessary injuries.


Professional football, such as the NFL, also permits hurdling. NFL players can jump over opponents during gameplay, which often results in impressive athletic displays and highlight-worthy moments. However, similar to college football, players must avoid making contact with the opposing player’s helmet to maintain safety and prevent penalties for unnecessary roughness.

Implications on the Field

When it comes to high school football, hurdling is a controversial topic that presents various implications on the field. This section will discuss player strategy and coach tactics in relation to this issue.

Player Strategy

High school football players must understand the rules surrounding hurdling in order to prepare for games. In the NFL and NCAA, hurdling is a viable option, but in high school, it is illegal, resulting in a 15-yard penalty since 2012. As a result, players will need to develop alternative strategies and techniques for evading opponents without the aid of hurdling. For instance, players may opt for spin moves, sidesteps, or lowered shoulder techniques when attempting to break tackles.

Cognizant of the risk of injury, high school athletes must also develop extensive muscle strength, power, and flexibility to reduce the likelihood of harm during intense play. This may include consistently participating in strength training exercises, sprints, and dynamic stretches.

Coach Tactics

The no-hurdling rule in high school football affects the game planning and coaching strategies as well. Coaches must ensure that their athletes fully understand the ramifications associated with hurdling and the proper techniques required for avoiding this penalty. They can reiterate the importance of legal alternatives for evading tackles and provide their athletes with ample practice opportunities to refine their skills in this area.

Additionally, coaches can tailor their training regimens to emphasize injury prevention methods and conditioning exercises that will support their players’ overall physical well-being. This may involve incorporating a variety of agility drills, plyometric exercises, and functional movement routines into their practice sessions.

In conclusion, while the ban on hurdling in high school football presents challenges for both players and coaches, appropriate strategizing and training can help mitigate these complications on the field.

Notable Athletes and Examples

Famous Hurdles

Many talented athletes have showcased their hurdling abilities in high school football games, demonstrating impressive feats of athleticism. One particularly memorable example took place on Oct. 17, when Cathedral City’s Orlando Wallace leaped over a defender during a game. This move garnered attention and admiration, serving as an excellent example of the potential power of hurdling in high school football.

While hurdling may not be as commonly seen in high school games compared to the NFL and NCAA, there have been a number of instances where young athletes have attempted to master this technique. As more players look to the professional leagues for inspiration, we may see even more astounding hurdles in the coming years.

Career Impacts

For some athletes, their high school hurdling moments have contributed to shaping their football careers. These players’ incredible abilities on the field caught the eye of college recruiters and even professional teams further down the road. The act of hurdling during a high school game often showcases a player’s athleticism, balance, and control, making them highly desirable prospects.

On the other hand, hurdling in high school football is not without risks. High-flying displays on the field can sometimes lead to injury, which could potentially have a negative impact on an athlete’s long-term career prospects. It’s essential for young players to weigh the potential rewards against the potential dangers before attempting such moves during a game.

While hurdling alone may not directly influence an athlete’s career trajectory, it can serve as a testament to their skill set and determination. As these high school players continue to develop their talents on the field, the ability to hurdle may become a valuable component of their overall success in the sport.

Controversies and Discussion

Safety Concerns

One of the primary reasons hurdling is not allowed in high school football is due to safety concerns. Hurdling, which involves a player jumping over an opponent, is considered a dangerous maneuver that could lead to serious injuries. In college football and the NFL, hurdling is legal, but high school football implemented a no-hurdling rule in 2012, with violations resulting in a 15-yard penalty. The focus on safety is paramount, especially considering the ongoing concerns surrounding concussions and long-term brain damage in football.

There is continuing debate among doctors and experts whether high school football should be banned due to the risks associated with concussions. Dr. Lewis Margolis, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, argues that current evidence points to football as more dangerous to the brain than other sports, and that the benefits of physical fitness and character building are not enough to outweigh the risks.

Sport Integrity

Another issue with hurdling in high school football is the sport’s integrity. Supporters of the no-hurdling rule argue that disallowing hurdling contributes to fair play and prevents players from using potentially dangerous tactics to gain an advantage. On the other hand, detractors claim that banning hurdling restricts athleticism and can diminish the excitement of the game.

While professional and college football leagues allow hurdling, high school football remains a developmental stage for athletes, and the focus should be on player safety, skill improvement, and character development rather than solely on winning. As a result, the current rules prohibiting hurdling in high school football aim to maintain the sport’s integrity and protect young athletes from unnecessary risks.