An area the length of the football between the offense and defense prior to the snap of the football. No player other than the center is allowed to have any part of his body in the neutral zone until the ball is snapped. The center is allowed to be over the ball in order to snap it. Entering the neutral zone prior to the snap of the ball, or being in the neutral zone at the snap of the ball, is a five-yard penalty on the offending team.
Both teams must remain outside of the neutral zone until the snap of the ball. Teams will adjust their strategies based on the neutral zone. On offense, a quarterback will use a fake snap count to try to draw defensive players into the neutral zone and get a penalty called on the defense. On the defense, the team will approach the neutral zone quickly to fake a blitz or pass rush to see if it can get the offense to jump. Neutral zone penalties are marked off five yards against the offending team.