An Ultimate Guide To NFL Onside Kick Rules

*Disclaimer: TheSwingConnection.Com earns a commission from qualifying purchases without extra cost from customers.

In American football games, the onside kick is a high-risk, high-reward approach. Onside kicks are frequently used by NFL teams late in the game, as the game is nearing a close.
Onside kicks provide enormous advantages to the team, but they also carry a high chance of failure if they are not well completed. Since 2018, the NFL has made improvements to how the onside kick is executed to combat the inherent risks of the sport of football.
The decrease in the rate of concussions coincides with a reduction in the rate of onside kick recovery that occurs without using a brake. When performing surprise onside kick procedures, it is necessary for kicking team players to be innovative.

How Far Can An Onside Kick Go?

Since the beginning of the league’s existence, fans and players have pondered this subject. On the other hand, the answer is not as straightforward as one might expect.
Various elements influence the distance an onside kick can go, including the style of lift utilized, the direction and speed of the wind, and the positioning of players on and off the field.

A standard rule is that an onside kick will travel further if it is kicked from a location closer to the opposing team’s end zone. This is the case because there is a greater area for the ball to go before it passes out of bounds.

In addition, if there is a strong wind blowing in the opposite direction of the kicker, onside kicks are more likely to travel further. This is because the wind will assist in keeping the ball in the air for a more extended period, as well as the fact that it will transport the ball a longer distance if it is kicked out of bounds.

As long as there are no other factors that could alter the distance traveled by an onside kick, the position of players on the field should not have a significant impact on how far an onside kick travels. For example, an onside kick that is deflected out of bounds by an opposing player is not expected to travel any further than an onside kick that lands untouched before being deflected out of bounds.

It is also necessary to consider the speed and direction of the wind when measuring the distance traveled by an onside kick. Suppose a kicker can create enough force to propel the ball across a whole field (100 yards) in a 20 mile per hour wind. In a 30 mile per hour wind, the same kicker should be able to add 10 yards to his distance. Aside from that, if two teams are each attempting to recover an onside kick from their opponent’s 40-yard line while facing a ten mile per hour wind blowing from behind them, the team kicking off should have a slight advantage because they will receive assistance from the wind while their opponents will not.

Even while the length of time an onside kick will travel relies on various circumstances, one thing is sure: they are highly unpredictable. Players can occasionally only collect the ball after it has traveled no more than 10 yards or fewer. However, some onside kicks travel the entire field before being recovered by either team or going out of bounds.

So far this season, there have been 13 games in which at least one club has tried an onside kick, a season-high. Five of the kicks traveled more than 10 yards before being recovered by their respective owners, for a success rate of 33 percent overall. However, while this may appear low compared to what fans might expect from such surprising plays, it is within the range of expectations that most managers would be satisfied with.
There is no definite solution to how far an onside kick can travel at the end of the day. An individual kick’s travel distance is determined by elements that are impossible to anticipate ahead of time (for example, weather conditions). On the other hand, an onside kick may be a highly efficient means to reclaim possession of the ball and change the momentum of a game in your team’s favor if executed correctly and with an intelligent strategy.

High-Bounce Kick

The High-Bounce kick is a long-distance kicking technique that football players in America commonly employ. The body is propelled upward and forward by the opposite leg and opposite arm, respectively, using linear momentum to optimize height and distance traveled.

It is considerably more usual to witness this style of kick in football than in other sports, which is due to the nature of the lift. A workaround was developed to be used to overcome difficult field circumstances that made drop kicks practically hard to perform consistently, such as those encountered outdoors during the winter or rain.
Despite its name, it does not match the International Association of Athletics Federations’ definition of an actual high jump because it lacks several essential characteristics, including but not limited to: There is no run-up or acceleration period before takeoff; acrobatics are performed while in the air (no somersault, etc.)

On a good day, world-class high jumpers can clear 2.45 meters (8 feet) in the air, but the world record is 2.43 meters (7 feet and 11 inches or 8′ 3/4 inch).

Saeed Al Maaouri of the Jacksonville Jaguars made a kick that measured 2.71 m (8 ft and 8.5 in) in height, which was the highest ever recorded in the NFL. Therefore, the phrase “high-bounce” is a bit misleading: Because of the close covering from defenders, the final product places one’s foot significantly closer to the ground than the hips of a conventional high jumper; these players do not have the time to achieve considerable altitude with their technique because of the time constraints. It does, however, have greater vertical height than a regular field goal kick because of the increased sheer size.

The method is particularly effective when the height of the ball must be achieved fast, such as when there is little time left in the game or on fourth down when long yardage is required for a first down or a score, as in the case of a touchdown or a first down. Players will frequently use this style of play during the final minutes of the fourth quarter when their team desperately needs three points (to win), even if they are not known for long-distance kicks, because it is doubtful that another player will be able to do it any better than they can.

By pushing off at an angle rather than straight up like in a standard kickoff/field goal format, one of the primary goals is to avoid blocks; the reduced surface area makes it more difficult for defenders to get their hands around under the ball.

Immediately after jumping off the ground, the kicker raises his kicking leg to a high position and swings it down hard towards the ball. Contact is made with the top of the ball, just below the laces, to propel it straight forward with the rest of the foot.

A kick’s follow-through is equally as essential as the kick itself; far too many players stop their action too soon and lose strength. As soon as the kicker makes contact with the ball, he should continue to swing his leg forward and through as if attempting to field a punt attempt. This will aid in the generation of greater distance on the kick.

What Percentage Of NFL Games Have An Onside Kick?

According to NFL statistics, onside kicks are used by NFL teams about once every five games. It is only in the NFL that onside kicks are more successful than at any other level of football. Onside kicks in the NFL are successful in approximately one-third of all attempts. This high proportion can be attributed to the other team usually expecting an onside kick and is prepared to defend against it. When a team executes a surprise onside kick, it has the potential to be quite effective for them.

You should be aware of a few things if you want to understand how an onside kick is executed. In the first place, an onside kick is used to bring the ball back into play after it has been booted off the playing field. This kick style is typically employed when the team attempting the kick is trailing in the game and needs to score as soon as possible. The onside kick is also utilized to surprise the other team during a football game.

It is common for the ball to be kicked off the ground and rebound off an opponent’s body or equipment before being collected by the kicking squad. You should be aware of a few things if you want to understand how an onside kick is executed. In the first place, an onside kick is used to bring the ball back into play after it has been booted off the playing field. This kick style is typically employed when the team attempting the kick is trailing in the game and needs to score as soon as possible. The onside kick is also utilized to surprise the other team during a football game.

It is common for the ball to be kicked off the ground and rebound off an opponent’s body or equipment before being collected by the kicking squad. Onside kicks in the NFL are typically employed when a team is trailing in the game.

Definition Of An Onside Kick

Known as an onside kick in American football, it is defined as follows: “An onside kick occurs when the kicking team purposefully kicks the ball through the kickoff zone for the receiving team.” Most of the time, they will kick the ball to the ground to get it to bounce.

Onside kicks are performed in a particular manner. Surprise onside kicks provide teams with an opportunity to recover the ball because they will have difficulties maintaining possession of the ball if the ball is on the ground. A team can give their attacking team more time to keep control of the ball by kicking the ball correctly.
This is a significant advantage, particularly in the closing minutes of a game, when every opportunity counts the most.

If the receiving teams successfully recover the ball, they will be awarded a first down from where the ball was recovered (or dead ball spot). To receive the first penalty in time to tee off, the receiving team must maintain complete control of the ball.
Having the opposing team fumble directly in front of them allows the opposing team to gain possession of the ball and earn the first down.

What Are The New Onside Kick Rule Changes?

Consider previous NFL games, and it becomes clear that the teams with superior strength consistently outperform their opponents. Onside kick regulations The ability to completely control the ball on the field by executing successful onside kicks gives them a distinct advantage over their opponents.

Between 2001 and 2010, unexpected onside kicks were highly successful, with up to 60% successful in some cases. On the other hand, the expected percentage of onside kicks is lower, hovering around 20%.

This aspect contributes to the physicality and vengeance seen in some football matches. In 2018, the NFL decided to make changes to protect players better when they perform onside kicks. The changes were implemented in 2019.
Both the kicking team and the receiving team can benefit from these improvements. Continue reading this section to learn more about the new NFL onside kick regulation implemented this season.

Nfl Onside Kick Rule Change For Kicking Team (Team A)

Onside kicks are handled in a particular manner. As a result of the new on-side kick football rule, it is no longer permissible for the kicking team to position players on one side of the goal line during the kickoff period. Their starting lineup will consist of five players who will line up on either side of the kicker in the first half of the game. At least two players must stand outside the yard-line number, and at least two players to stand between the inbound lines and the yard-line number for the game to begin.

Regardless of his position on the field, the player in possession of the free-kick counts as one of the five players listed anywhere on the pitch.

To be deemed in the foul area when a player is one yard from the penalty line, he must have at least one foot (it does not matter if it is the front or back) make contact with the line (whether it is the front or back foot). During the kickoff, all players on the kicking team must remain within the inbounds lines and behind the ball, regardless of their position on the field. The only two exceptions are the person who holds the placekick and the kicker if the kicking foot does not cross the line during the kick.

The kicker’s team can’t begin racing after the ball until after the kicker has completed his or her kick. This means that there will be no running start, as previously announced. Kickoffs must be executed from behind a restraining line into the 35-yard line, while safety kicks must be run from behind a restraining line into the 20-yard line.

These adjustments reflect the NFL’s efforts to keep football players safer on the field. It used to be that the kicking team’s usual strategy was to load one side of the ball and then direct a direct kick at the opposing team’s formation, causing the building to crumble. Major accidents between the two squads due to this have occurred, with unforeseen consequences for both parties.

Nfl Onside Kick Rule Change For Receiving Team (Team B)

These modifications apply to both kicking and receiving teams, which are cumulative. Standard practice is for the receiving team’s restraining line to be 10 yards ahead of the kicking team’s line.

ACCORDING TO THE LEAGUE, the NFL’s new kickoff rules also clarify the number of players on the receiving team when they are required to spread out during a game. The receiving team must line up at least eight players in a 15-yard setup zone between the team’s 45-yard line and their 40-yard line between the team’s 45-yard line and their 40-yard line.

The receiving team will also need to add approximately three people to the touchdown area. This arrangement aims to defend the receiving unit from classic kicks while reducing the likelihood of collisions between the groupings.

When a defensive player receives the ball, the receiving team cannot perform wedge blocks under the new NFL regulations. This block suspension scheme affects the classic onside kicker, even though it is usually reserved for only three receivers directed at the end zone.

Please refer to the official NFL rule book for further information on the new onside kick rules and detailed instructions on the kick-off alterations.

Success Rate After The New Onside Kick Rules

Since the 2018 season, clubs have found it more challenging to recover onside kicks due to the new kickoff rules that have been implemented. There have only been roughly five surprise kick attempts this season, compared to an average of 9.4 shots per game last season.
When the success rate was reduced to 6 percent, the overall success rate declined significantly. When you compare that to the completion rate of 21 percent in 2017, you’ll see a considerable change. For the 2019 season, this number has increased to 12.7 percent, which represents a substantial improvement.

Proposal For The New Onside Kick Rule Change

The onside kick boosts the odds of teams holding possession, especially during critical periods such as the fourth quarter of a game. As a result, the units constantly seek new and innovative ways to produce proposals that would provide more advantages to the kicking team.

The Denver Broncos requested in the spring of 2019 that the scoring side be given the option to use a fourth-and-15 play from their 35-yard line if they were behind by seven points. The team can keep possession as a result of this transition.

Following the NFL’s rejection of the Broncos’ plan in 2019, the Eagles made a similar request in 2020. It will be the scoring team’s foul effort to switch play fourth-and-15 from their 25-yard line rather than trying an inside kick that will be witnessed. If the offense scores a touchdown, it will retain possession of the ball. A failure to do so will result in the defending team taking over at the dead ballpoint.

In the end, neither of these proposals received a vote from the NFL. However, they passed an experimental regulation to aid in increasing the team’s success percentage when attempting to reclaim the ball from the opposition.

According to the league, there can’t be more than nine members of the receiving team in the “setup zone” under the new rule. In prior seasons, that number was frequently between 10 and 11 players. Because fewer players receive the ball, the kicking team has a better chance of recovering the ball.

People Also Asked

This section will answer a few more questions about the onside kick rule.

Are You Able To Catch An Onside Kick Attempt In The Fair?

A team can either make a fair catch before the start of the game or hit the ball while it is still in the air, according to the rules of American football, which are as follows: When attempting an onside kick, the kicking team kicks the ball directly to the ground to cause it to bounce, preventing the ball from being considered “airborne.”
As a result, you cannot claim a fair catch when attempting an onside kick attempt.

What are the rules for an onside kick?

Can you make a fair catch on an onside kick attempted by your opponent? A team can either make a fair catch before the start of the game or hit the ball while it is still in the air, according to the rules of American football, which are as follows: When attempting an onside kick, the kicking team kicks the ball directly to the ground to cause it to bounce, preventing the ball from being considered “airborne.”

Can you do an onside kick anytime?

An onside kick can be used to create a big play, but usually, these kicks are employed when the game is on the line, and the kicking team desperately needs the ball in the hands of its offense.

Does an onside kick need to go 10 yards?

According to the rules of the onside kick, the ball must travel at least 10 yards before the kicking team can retake possession of it.

Where is the ball placed for an onside kick?

The tee is in its typical upright posture, so the ball may be placed on the ground leaning on it. After a safety, the ball is returned to play with a safety kick. In some cases, a dropkick, placekick, or punt can be utilized as a safety kick.


Onside kick strategies can assist a team in taking the lead or turning the tide in critical situations. Its most notable negative aspect is the increased risk of injury, and it does not ensure player safety in any way.
No matter what you think about it, we have to get used to that things are changing. An ingenious strategy to surprise a sleeping defense with a surprise kick proved the difference between win and defeat.