What Is A Fair Catch Kick – Football Terminology

A fair catch kick is an extremely rare football play that can only occur after a player calls for a fair catch. Once a team calls for a fair catch they are able to attempt a fair catch kick from the spot in which the ball was caught. To score this kick they can either place kick directly from the ground like a field goal or perform a dropkick.

If you manage to get your kick through the upright you will be awarded three points.

Why Are Fair Catch Kicks So Rare?

The reason that these kick attempts are so rare is for two main reasons. First off it is very rare to call for a fair catch in field goal range.

Field goal range refers to the area on the field where your kicker can score from. Since a fair catch usually occurs after a punt it is rare that the punt will land within your kicker’s field goal range.

A kicker can typically score from the thirty-five yard line and inwards. An average punt in the NFL travels more than fourty yards. This goes to show you that the odds you will fair catch a ball in field goal range is quite low.

The other reason that fair catch kicks are so rare is because a missed field goal is a turnover. Once you catch a punt you will start your next play on a first down. This means you will have three attempts to get a first down prior to attempting the field goal.

This means that they typically only attempt these kicks when the time is about to run out in the game or half. This is because this may be their only chance to kick a field goal with the allotted time left.

These scenarios are so rare that the last successful fair catch kick occurred in 1976 by Ray Wersching.

How Exactly Does a Fair Catch Kick Work?

So we know that a fair catch kick occurs after a fair catch is called. But what exaclty does this kick look like?

To start all of the opposing teams players must line up ten yards back from the kick. Essentially the defending team will lineup as they are about to return a kickoff.

This means there are no d-linemen attempting to block this kick or blockers protecting the kicker. A fair catch will look almost identical to a kickoff. The main difference being they are aiming for the upright.

It is also worth noting that when attempting these kicks you are not able to use a kicking tee. Kicking tees are used on kick offs and allow the kicker to get some extra distance on their kicks.

To see what some actual fair catch kicks look like check out this compilation below.

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