Football Kickoff

A kickoff in football is when the place kicker, a kicker on the special teams, kicks the ball to the opposing team. Kickoffs are performed behind restraining lines and must go 10 or more yards to count or be touched by the receiving team.

On a kickoff, the ball is placed on a tee. The place kicker will run towards the ball and kick it like a soccer ball. This powerful kick usually spans the entire distance of the field.

When Kickoffs Happen

Kickoffs happen:

  • At the start of the game
  • At the start of the 2nd half
  • At the start of overtime
  • After a score

Kickoff Rules

The kicking team is the team that has the ball and is performing the kickoff. The receiving team is the team that catches and returns the ball on a kickoff.

  • Kickoffs must go at least 10 or more yards on the field
  • The kicking team's restraining line is their own 35-yard line
  • The receiving team's restraining line is placed 10 yards away from the kicking team's restraining line on the 45-yard line
  • All players besides the kicker must be lined up five yards behind the restraining line
  • At least four players must be on each side of the kicker
  • The kicking team can only recover the ball when it has gone 10 or more yards or if a player on the receiving team touches it

Kickoff Out Of Bounds

If the kickoff goes out of bounds on the sidelines before reaching the end zones, the receiving team gets the ball on the 35-yard line.

Kickoff Returners

football Returners

The football kickoff returner is often played by a shorter and quicker player. He is responsible for catching the kickoff and running the entirety of the football field, or as much as possible, to score a touchdown. When a player catches a punt, it is also called fielding a punt.

It can be challenging for a kickoff returner to keep his eye on the ball and avoid any defensive team members. The sun can also affect the kickoff returner's success of catching the ball.

Restraining Lines

Unlike punts, kickoffs do not happen on the line of scrimmage. Kickoffs happen behind restraining lines.

Restraining lines show where the kicking team and the receiving team have to be on a kickoff.

Safety Kick

football Safety Kick

A safety kick is a kickoff that is performed only after a safety is scored. The restraining lines on a safety kick are different from a normal kickoff.

Onside Kick

football Onside Kick

An onside kick is a kickoff that just meets that 10 yard requirement. The purpose of the onside kick is for the kicking team to recover the ball.


Football Touchback

A touchback happens when the ball is considered dead. This happens when the kickoff goes out of bounds behind the goal line. This situation is called by an official.