Football Kick Catch Interference Penalty
The football kick catch interference rule prohibits members of the kicking team from interfering with the player on the receiving team attempting to catch the football. A player will be penalized with a loss of 15 yards from the spot of the foul if interference is made with the player attempting to catch the airborne ball.
During punts and kickoffs, the kick returner on the receiving team has the right to attempt to catch the ball without being hindered by players on the kicking team. This means that players on the kicking team are not allowed to make contact with the receiver before or simultaneous to his touching of the ball. Additionally, players on the kicking team may not obstruct the receiver's path to catching the ball. The catch interference penalty will be called if a player on the kicking team either makes premature contact with the receiver or obstructs his path to receiving the ball.
Kick returners also have the right to attempt a fair catch without interference from members of the kicking team. A fair catch means that the receiver plans to catch the ball but has no intention of returning it. The fair catch signal is indicated by a player fully extending his arm above his helmet and waving it from side to side. In the same manner that players on the kicking team may not interfere with a receiver attempting to catch the ball with intentions to return it, members of the kicking team are also not allowed to hinder a player attempting to make a fair catch.
The result of a catch interference penalty is a loss of 15 yards from the spot of the foul. The offended team has the right to then put the ball in play with a snap from the line of scrimmage. For players who attempt a fair catch and have been interfered with, a fair catch is awarded even if they don't manage to catch the ball.
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For a catch interference penalty, the referee extends their arms forward with their palms exposed in a pushing motion.
- A player on the receiving team is trying to return a punt. However, a player on the kicking team makes contact with the returner before he has a chance to catch the ball.
- A player signals that he intends to make a fair catch. A player on the opposing team hits the receiver the moment he makes contact with the ball and disrupts his ability to make a fair catch.
- A player is attempting to return a kickoff, but his path to catch the ball is obstructed by a member of the opposing team.