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Some general punt rules to be aware of

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There are several punt rules you should be aware of whether playing on the Punt Team or the Receiving Team. If you’re called for a penalty for violating any one of these rules it can have a dramatic impact on the game, and can cause you much embarrassment.

Having a full understanding of these rules and implementing them into your game play can also give you an extra advantage. For example, by moving aggressively toward the Returner you can force him to call for a ‘fair catch’, preventing any advancement by your opponents.

General punt rules for the Punt Team.

There are a few simple punt rules that you should be aware of. For example, if you’re the punter and the football is hiked and fumbled, crossing over onto your opponent’s side of the line-of-scrimmage (LOS), the ball cannot then be punted. To be a legal punt, it must be made from your side of the line.

Another good to know punt rule is for any blocked punt. If the football does not cross over the LOS it can be recovered by either team. However, for the Punting Team to retain possession it must recover the football and advance it beyond the previously required first down yardage.

Roughing the Kicker by the Return Team.

There is a five-yard penalty for “Running into the Kicker”, and a fifteen-yard penalty plus an automatic first down for the Punt Team if contact of the Punter is made by the Receiving Team and is deemed flagrant.

There are some exceptions to the rule that are subject to the referee’s interpretation of the play. For example, if you were the kicker for your team and you made a motion that purposely drew the approaching player into contact, or a defensive player was blocked into you by one of your teammates, a penalty is unlikely to be implemented.

Some general punt rules to be aware of

Another exception is when the Punter receives the hiked football and begins to run with it, or if the Punter recovers a loose ball. The moment you vary from your normal punting duties all precautionary rules that apply to the Punter are obsolete. You are now considered a regular player and are governed by the same football rules as everyone else on the field.

Punt rules relating to the Fair Catch.

When a Returner feels as if approaching pressure may make a clean catch of a punt difficult, that Returner may make what is referred to as a ‘Fair Catch’ signal.

To call for a Fair Catch, the Returner must wave his hand in the air above his head signaling to the referees that he won’t run once he catches the football and he should be declared down at the spot of reception. The Fair Catch signal then provides the Returner a protected two-yard circle in which to catch the ball without interference by the opposing team.

Per the punt rules, any Punt Team member who enters the protected two-yard circle and hits or interferes with the protected Receiver receives a fifteen-yard penalty. The Return Team receives the extra penalty yards from the spot of the Fair Catch signal.

While the returner is not required to catch the football after calling for a Fair Catch, if the Returner calls for a Fair Catch and then drops the football without being hindered by the Punt Team, that Returner no longer has any protection and the fumble is live.

Whichever team recovers the fumble gains possession of the ball at the spot of the fumble recovery. The Recovery Team is free to run with the fumbled football as long as the player who recovered the football has not been deemed down by contact.

If a Returner should call for a ‘Fair Catch’ and then attempts to advance the football, the Return Team may be accessed five penalty yards from the spot where the Fair Catch was called.

Punt rules and strategies.

The punt rules state that a punted ball touched past the line-of-scrimmage (LOS) by a member of the Return Team becomes a live ball. If the football was not fielded cleanly it can then be treated as a fumble and recovered by the Punt Team, regardless of where the football touched the Return Team player’s body.

If a member of the Punt Team touches the ball past the LOS, the Return Team can then advance the football.

If you are able to down a punt, you should immediately pick it up and hand it to an official (‘hatch it’) When a blocked or partially blocked punt does not cross the LOS, the ball is not considered punted and can be advanced by either team. If a partially blocked punt passes the line-of-scrimmage, the ball is considered to be a punted ball and all normal rules apply.