What Is Four Down Territory In Football?

Four down territory in football refers to the area of the field in which a field goal would likely be too far yet a punt would not make much of a difference in terms of field position.

Four down territory in football usually is considered the opponent’s side of the half between the fourty five and fourty yard line. That being said the location of four down territories isn’t always set in stone.

Since four down territory is based on your kicker’s ability to make long field goals this territory is going to be in different places for different teams. Though keep in mind it usually sits right around the maximum distance that your kicker can score a field goal from.

Why Don’t They Punt The Ball?

The reason that teams don’t punt the ball in four down territory is that the difference it is going to make in terms of field position is negligible. As we stated earlier four down territory should be around the opponent’s forty yard line.

That means if they decide to punt and end up with a touchback the opposing team will start at the twenty-five yard line. If the offense fails to convert a fourth down from their location the opponent will start with the ball around their fourty yard line.

As you can see this is only roughly a fifteen-yard difference. Fifteen yards is not a large factor in terms of field position and likely won’t have much of an effect on the game.

But if the team is able to convert the fourth down, all of a sudden they have the ball in the opponent’s end with a fresh set of downs.

In other words, punting the ball from this location will only benefit the team marginally while going for it on fourth can potentially have an extremely positive outcome.

Why Not Attempt The Kick

The reason that teams do not attempt to kick field goals in four-down territory is that they know their team’s limits. Most coaches only consider four down territory the area in which their kicker cannot convert a field goal.

That being said that doesn’t mean that the kicker has a no chance of making the field goal. When kicking beyond your usual range field goals are still possible they are just unlikely.

The issue is if you miss a field goal attempt the other team gains possession of the ball from your location. Essentially a missed field goal has the same outcome as a failed fourth-down conversion.

If you do not believe your kicker is going to make the kick then you are better off attempting a fourth-down conversion.

Will Teams Always Go For It In Fourth Down Territory

The answer to this question is no. It is important to remember that this area of the field sees more fourth down attempts than any other. Coaches are still going to make the best decision for their team.

Say an offense has a fourth and fifteen in four down territory. They are not going to try and convert this unless it is absolutely necessary.

The odds of converting these long fourth downs are often very low. Meaning even though a punt or field goal is not going to offer a huge benefit. The team must do choose the best of the options at hand.

Concluding Thoughts

Four down territory in football is a section of the field in which offenses tend to “go for it”. This means an attempt to convert on fourth down instead of kicking or punting.

This is done because this area is usually out of field goal range. And does not possess many benefits in terms of field position.

That all being said teams will ensure the distance is short on these fourth downs before making an attempt. Offenses are willing to roll the dice in four-down territory but rarely will you see them attempt fourth and long conversions.

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