In the game of football at any kind of level, the kicking game is crucial to a team's success. However, opposing defenders must be very careful not to contact the kicker illegally, whether on a punt play or a field goal try, as they could receive a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Roughing the kicker penalties are usually called when a defender contacts a kicker illegally and with excess force. Defenders can be called for this penalty by contacting a player in a rough manner, and it is usually called to protect kickers from getting seriously injured. The penalty works by essentially targeting the defender that has contacted the kicker in a rough manner with excessive force deemed to be considered a personal foul by the official.
The reason why this penalty is put into place during games is due to the fact that while a kicker is in the act of kicking the ball, they are defenseless to any kind of defender that is coming at them during the play. The penalty is designed to help keep the kickers safe throughout all kicking plays. During a game, when the kicker punts the ball or kicks a field goal, any contact to the kicker after the ball has been kicked will be flagged for a penalty. Therefore, this kind of penalty is called during punt plays and field goal plays during games.
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At every single level of the sport of American football, a roughing the kicker penalty is the same punishment for every player. The foul is deemed to be a personal foul, which means that it will be enforced 15 yards from where the foul occurred, and the kicking team will be given an automatic first down. This penalty is usually called the same way at every single level. If the officials agree that a defender has made unnecessary and rough contact with the kicker during a punt play or a field goal try, the penalty will be called and the kicking team will be given 15 yards and a first down.
When this penalty is called, the referee will start off the call with the personal foul sign, where they take one arm and move it rapidly onto the other arm, signaling that there has been a major penalty during the game. The referee will then make a kicking motion with their foot, signaling that there has been a roughing the kicker penalty during the play.