Onside kick

What is the definition of in American Football?

An onside kick in American football is a unique and strategic type of kickoff often utilized by teams when they need to regain possession of the ball after scoring or at a crucial point in a game. Onside kicks, which consist of a short, diagonal kick, give the kicking team a chance to recover possession, as the ball only needs to travel a minimum of ten yards before either team can touch it.

The purpose of an onside kick is for the kicking team to maintain control over the ball and provide their offense another opportunity to score. This high-risk, high-reward play is typically used late in the game when there is limited time on the clock and the team desperately needs to close a point gap. It’s essential to note that onside kicks are subject to specific rules and regulations as dictated by the NFL, and the success of these kicks often hinges on the kicking team’s execution techniques.

Key Takeaways

  • An onside kick is a strategic kickoff in American football aimed at regaining possession
  • It’s a high-risk, high-reward play used when a team needs to close a point gap
  • Success depends on proper execution and adherence to NFL rules and regulations

Definition of an Onside Kick

An onside kick is a strategic move used in American football during a kickoff. The objective is for the kicking team to regain possession of the ball instead of kicking it far downfield to the receiving team. This high-risk, high-reward play is often used late in the game when time is running out, and the kicking team is trailing in points.

The ball needs to travel at least 10 yards before the kicking team can legally recover it. Once the ball crosses the 10-yard restraining line, the kicking team may attempt to be the first ones to recover the ball, thereby retaining possession. However, if the ball does not travel the required distance or goes out of bounds, the receiving team gains possession at the spot where the ball went out of bounds.

There are specific rules for executing an onside kick. For instance, the kicking team must have at least four players on either side of the ball, and no player can be more than five yards behind the ball when it’s kicked. These rules help ensure that kicking team members don’t have an unfair advantage in reaching the ball before the receiving team.

It’s important to note that onside kicks come with risks. Because the kicking team is attempting to regain possession, they typically kick the ball a shorter distance. This means that if the receiving team recovers the ball, they will have better field position and a higher likelihood of scoring. Additionally, if the kicking team fails to recover the ball, the receiving team will have possession with fewer yards to score.

In conclusion, an onside kick serves as a strategic play in American football when the kicking team needs to regain possession quickly. Though risky, successful onside kicks can provide a significant advantage to teams running out of time to score crucial points.

Purpose of an Onside Kick

An onside kick in American Football is a strategic move that is executed during a kickoff when the kicking team intends to regain possession of the football. It differs from a typical kickoff in which the ball is kicked far downfield with the intention of giving the receiving team a longer distance to cover in order to score.

Surprise Element

An onside kick can provide the element of surprise when conducted without any indication of the kicking team’s intentions. By catching the opposing team off guard, the kicking team may increase their chances of recovering the ball, putting them in a better position during the game. This is particularly useful when the kicking team is trailing in points and must quickly score.

Possession Recovery

The primary goal of an onside kick is to recover the ball and regain possession for the kicking team. When executed correctly, the ball travels just over the mandatory 10-yard distance before a player from the kicking team recovers it. This short distance makes it challenging for the receiving team to secure the ball, giving the kicking team an opportunity to take control. By regaining possession, the kicking team can give their offense another chance to score and potentially shift the game’s momentum in their favor.

Rules and Regulations

Kickoff Position

The onside kick in American Football involves the kicking team attempting to recover the ball after it is kicked, instead of kicking deep to the receiving team. The ball must travel at least 10 yards downfield before the kicking team can touch and recover it. This typically occurs during the kickoff, where the kicking team seeks to retain possession in high-pressure situations when time is running out or the score is close.

Player Restrictions

In the NFL, the onside kick rules state that there must be five kicking team members lined up on each side of the kicker. Furthermore, at least two of these players must be positioned on each side of the ball. This rule prevents the kicking team from overloading one side of the field, ensuring a fair distribution of players.

Receiving Team’s Option

The receiving team has the option to attempt to recover the onside kick or let the ball travel at least 10 yards. If the ball does not travel the required 10 yards before touching the ground or a player from the kicking team, the receiving team takes possession of the ball. Additionally, if the receiving team successfully recovers the onside kick, they gain possession and can continue their offensive drive.

Execution Techniques

High Bounce

The high bounce onside kick technique involves the kicker striking the ball at a specific point to create a high, vertical bounce. This method allows the kicking team’s players to have a better chance of getting under the ball to recover it, as the receiving team’s players must wait for the ball to come back down. The strategy here is for the kicking team to have height advantage over the receiving team.

Low Bounce

The low bounce technique is an alternative approach in executing an onside kick. In this method, the kicker strikes the ball in a manner that generates a series of low, unpredictable bounces along the ground. This can make it difficult for the receiving team to anticipate the ball’s trajectory and secure possession. The kicking team’s players should be ready to quickly react to these unpredictable bounces and attempt to recover the ball.

Ground Slap

The ground slap technique entails the kicker hitting the top half of the ball with a downward motion, causing the football to momentarily touch the ground before bouncing back up. This creates an unexpected hop, catching the receiving team off-guard and providing an opportunity for the kicking team to recover the ball. The key to success with the ground slap technique is timing, as the kicking team’s players must be prepared to act the moment the ball bounces unpredictably.

Success and Failures

Success Rate

The success rate of onside kicks in American football has experienced a significant decrease in recent years. In 2018, before the rule change, the success rate was 21 percent, with 12 recoveries out of 57 attempts. However, the 2019 season saw a drastic decline, as only 5 out of 79 attempts were recovered. In 2022, the success rate dropped even further, with only 3 out of 56 attempts being successful.

Factors Affecting Success

Several factors contribute to the success or failure of onside kicks in American football. Some of these factors include:

  • Rule changes: The NFL implemented rule changes in 2018, which affected the kickoff formation and impacted the kicking team’s ability to recover onside kicks. These changes have played a significant role in the reduced success rate.
  • Diagonal direction: Kicking the ball in a diagonal direction and as close to the advancing players from the kicking team as possible can increase the likelihood of successfully recovering an onside kick.
  • Kicker’s skill: The kicker’s ability to execute the onside kick properly can greatly impact the success of the play. A well-executed kick increases the chances of the kicking team recovering the ball.
  • Opposing team’s readiness: The success of an onside kick is also heavily dependent on the opposing team’s level of preparedness. If the receiving team is caught off-guard or fails to align themselves properly, it can create an opportunity for the kicking team to recover the ball.

Memorable Onside Kicks

Historical Context

The onside kick has played a significant role in American football history with numerous memorable moments. One such moment occurred in 2010 during Super Bowl XLIV when the New Orleans Saints executed a successful onside kick to start the second half against the Indianapolis Colts. This bold move, known as the “Ambush,” changed the game’s momentum and eventually led to the Saints’ first Super Bowl victory.

Another notable onside kick happened in the 1998 NFL Wild Card game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo executed a successful onside kick, known as the “Home Run Throwback,” which involved a lateral pass to create a surprise scoring opportunity. This unexpected play contributed to the Bills’ 24-17 win and has become a memorable moment in playoff history.

Impact on Games

Onside kicks can significantly impact the outcome of football games. By attempting an onside kick, a trailing team can create the possibility of regaining possession and ultimately changing their fate within a game. For instance, the Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship saw the Seahawks perform a successful onside kick to make a remarkable comeback, eventually winning the game 28-22.

Successful onside kicks require considerable skill, timing, and teamwork. In recent years, however, rule changes have made onside kicks more challenging, reducing their success rate. The NFL implemented these modifications to enhance player safety by limiting high-speed collisions during kickoff plays. Despite this, onside kicks continue to be an integral and decisive part of American football due to the high stakes they bring to the game.