A fair catch in football is a signal the returner can make to allow him to catch the ball on a kickoff or punt without being hindered by players on the opposing team. A fair catch is signaled by waving an arm in the air while the ball is in flight. If a player from the opposing team makes contact with a player who has called for a fair catch during a punt or kickoff, the player who made the contact will be penalized for fair catch interference, which is a 15 yard penalty.
The returner can signal a fair catch when returning a kickoff or punt. On a fair catch, the returner asks for an unhindered attempt at catching the kick. To signal a fair catch, the returner will hold his arm up in the air.
A fair catch signal cannot be faked by a returner as it poses a risk to both the returner and opposing players. An incomplete fair catch signal will result in a penalty against the offending player.
On a fair catch, the return ends immediately when the returner catches the ball.
|PRO TIP: On a fair catch, the returner is not required to catch the ball. If the returner decides not to catch the ball and then touches it, it's treated as a fumble.|
After a fair catch, the offense starts with the ball at the spot of the fair catch was signaled.