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Football Kickoff Out Of Bounds Penalty

Football Kickoff Out Of Bounds Penalty

A kickoff out of bounds penalty is called on the kicking team when the ball goes out of bounds before touching a player on the receiving team during a kickoff. When this penalty occurs, the receiving team has a few options they can choose from depending on the level of play.

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Definition

A kickoff out of bounds penalty in football occurs when a team kicks off, and the ball goes out of bounds over the sideline without being touched by the receiving team. When this happens, the receiving team gets to choose from a few options as a result of the penalty. In the NFL, teams have three choices: taking the ball at the spot it went out of bounds, taking the ball 30 yards from the kickoff location (35-yard line), or having the kickoff retaken from 5 yards back.

A kickoff out of bounds is called any time the ball goes directly out of bounds on its own or when a player on the receiving team establishes part of his body out of bounds and touches the ball. When this occurs, a flag is thrown, and the receiving team most frequently decides to advance the ball to the 35-yard line.

The kickoff out of bounds is usually pretty straightforward for a referee to call, but a player can use this rule to benefit them in special situations. In a 2016 game, receiver Ty Montgomery established himself out of bounds while a kickoff was still in play. He then laid down with his feet out of bounds and upper body in bounds and recovered the ball on his own 3-yard line. This was ruled a kickoff out of bounds penalty, which resulted in the ball being placed at the 35-yard line instead of the 3-yard line.

Result

If a kickoff out of bounds penalty is called, the team can choose from a few different options as a result of the penalty. These options depend on the level of play and are explained in the table below.

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Kickoff Out Of Bounds30 yards from spot of kickoffAt the location where the ball went out of bounds Rekick from 5 yards back30 yards from spot of kickoff5 yards beyond where the ball went out of boundsRekick from 5 yards back25 yards from spot of kickoffAt the location where the ball went out of bounds30 yards from spot of kickoffAt the location where the ball went out of bounds Rekick from 5 yards back

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal kickoff out of bounds

When a kick falls out of bounds, the referee immediately throws the flag and signals for the clock to stop. This indicates that the ball has left the playing field illegally and that the penalty will be called.

Examples

  • The ball is kicked off and it goes out of bounds without anyone touching it.
  • The ball is kicked near the sideline, and a player on the receiving team touches the ball while they have a part of their body out of bounds.

Similar Penalties To Kickoff Out Of Bounds

FAQ

What happens when a kickoff goes out of bounds in the NFL?

When a kickoff goes out of bounds in the NFL, the kicking team is penalized. The receiving team has the option to elect a rekick from 5 yards further away by the kicking team, starting their drive from where the ball went out of bounds, or starting their drive 30 yards from the spot of the kickoff, typically at the 35-yard line.

Why is a kickoff out of bounds a penalty in football?

Kicking the ball out of bounds on a kickoff is considered a penalty in football because the receiving team needs a fair chance to return the kickoff, call for a fair catch, or get a touchback. If it were legal for the kicking team to kick the ball out of bounds, this would give them an unfair advantage by allowing them to exploit kicking the ball out of bounds to avoid kickoff returns.

What is the penalty for kicking the football out of bounds on a kickoff?

The penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds on a kickoff is either a rekick from 5 yards back, the receiving team starting their drive where the ball went out of bounds, or the receiving team starting their drive at the 35-yard line. The receiving team gets to decide what penalty option they would like to exercise. Typically, teams elect to start their drive from the 35-yard line, as that is an excellent field position after a kickoff. However, if the kick went out of bounds closer to the kicking team anywhere beyond the 35-yard line, a team will elect to start their drive from that spot.

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