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The Kickoff Rules of a Football Game

Like virtually everything else in football, kickoffs are strictly governed by a set of rules. In the kickoff, one team attempts to block the other and the kicking team wants to stop the returner inside his own 20-yard line. Both sides must abide by these rules:

  • The receiving team must line up a minimum of 10 yards from where the ball is kicked.

  • Members of the kicking team can recover the ball after the kick travels 10 yards or the ball touches an opponent.

    If the kicked ball goes out of bounds before traveling 10 yards, the kicking team is penalized 5 yards and must rekick. If a member of the kicking team touches the ball before it travels 10 yards, the kicking team must rekick and is again penalized 5 yards.

  • A member of the kicking team can recover the ball in the end zone and be awarded a touchdown.

  • Members of the kicking team must give the receiving team’s returner the opportunity for a fair catch. If he signals for a fair catch, the players can’t touch him and can’t come within 3 feet of him until he touches the ball.

  • The receiving team gets the ball on its own 35-yard line if the kickoff goes out of bounds before reaching the end zone. If it bounces out before the 35-yard line, the receiving team receives the ball where it went out of bounds.

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