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Football Fair Catch Interference Penalty

Football Fair Catch Interference Penalty

A fair catch interference penalty is when a member of the kicking team disrupts the receiver of the kick after they signal for a fair catch. This distraction may result in the receiver dropping the ball or not being able to catch the ball at all. The result of this penalty is a loss of 15 yards against the kicking team. It is enforced from where the receiver signaled for the fair catch.

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Definition

Fair catch interference can only be called during a kick, whether that be a kick off or punt. This foul can only be committed by the kicking team, and it occurs when the receiver is not allowed to catch the kick properly due to contact with a player from the kicking team.

This foul can happen in a couple of ways. The most common way is for a member of the kicking team to either tackle or contact the receiver before the ball reaches them. The penalty will not be called if a teammate of the receiver accidentally creates contact with them. It will be called in the event that a member of the kicking team pushes a teammate of the receiver into them, creating deliberate contact.

A variation of this penalty can also be called even if the receiver has not made a fair catch signal. In this instance, members of the kicking team may not interfere with the receiver in any way while the ball is in the air; even blocking the path to the ball is prohibited.

This penalty focuses on reducing unnecessary injuries among players attempting to receive kicks. Since the receiver is in a vulnerable position, major injury can occur when a member of the kicking team collides with them at full speed. The receiver of the kick is often labeled as defenseless as they are paying attention to the ball, not the kicking team.

Result

The result of a fair catch interference penalty is a loss of 15 yards for the offending team. The penalty is enforced at the spot where the receiver made the fair catch signal. Even if the ball is dropped or not caught at all, the call will be enforced where the receiver made the signal.

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Fair Catch Interference15 Yards15 Yards15 YardsN/A

Penalty Signal

football Penalty Signal

The signal for a fair catch interference is the same as a pass interference call. The arms are to be extended out with the hands facing upwards. The official will also point to the side of the offending team with an outstretched arm.

Examples

  • If a player from the kicking team contacts the receiver after a fair catch signal was made.
  • If a player on the kicking team pushes a teammate of the receiver into them.
  • If a member of the kicking team blocks the path of the receiver trying to catch the ball.

Similar Penalties To Fair Catch Interference

FAQ

What is a fair catch in football?

A fair catch in football is when a returner on a punt or kickoff signals to other players and the referee that they will not be advancing the ball once it is caught. After signaling for a fair catch, the receiver must remain untouched by the kicking team. If a player signals for a fair catch in the NFL, they will start their offensive drive at the location of the fair catch. If a player on the kicking team hinders the fair catch by touching the returner, they will be called for a fair catch interference penalty.

How does a returner call for a fair catch in football?

To call for a fair catch in football, the returner must fully extend and wave their arm above the helmet. This must be done while the ball is in the air following a kickoff or punt. If a player extends their arms above the helmet in any other manner during a kick or attempts to signal for a fair catch below their helmet, the signal will be invalid. Players can receive a five-yard penalty for invalid fair catch signals.

What happens if you drop a fair catch?

If a returner that has signaled for a fair catch drops the ball when attempting to catch it, the ball will be considered live. This means that the kicking team will be able to recover the ball if a fair catch is dropped.

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