IFAF RULE 6 – Kicks

SECTION 3. Scrimmage Kicks


ARTICLE 1. Behind the Neutral Zone




  1. A scrimmage kick that fails to cross the neutral zone continues in play. All players may catch or recover the ball behind the neutral zone and advance it. (A.R. 6-3-1:I-III)

  2. The blocking of a scrimmage kick by an opponent of the kicking team who is not more than three yards beyond the neutral zone is considered to have occurred within or behind that zone (Rule 2-11-5).

Approved ruling 6-3-1


  1. After a punt travels five yards beyond the neutral zone, B33 touches the ball. It then rebounds behind the zone, where A33 recovers it in the field of play. RULING: The ball is dead when recovered and may not be advanced. First down for Team A (Rules 6-3-3 and 6-3-6-a). Clock starts on the snap following a legal kick down. [Cited by 2-16-7-b] [Cited by 6-3-1-a]

  2. Team A’s untouched punt or field goal attempt goes beyond the neutral zone in flight, is blown back by the wind and first touches the ground, a player or an official behind the neutral zone. RULING: By rule, the kick is not considered to have crossed the neutral zone until it has touched the ground, a player, an official or anything beyond that zone. Any scrimmage kick may be advanced after catch or recovery by Team B, or after catch or recovery by Team A in or behind the neutral zone if the kick had not crossed the neutral zone (Rule 2-16-7). [Cited by 2-16-7-b, 6-3-1-a]

  3. A1 interferes with B1’s opportunity to catch a kick when a scrimmage kick fails to cross the neutral zone. RULING: Interference with opportunity to catch a kick does not apply, and all players are eligible to touch, recover and advance the ball. Therefore, any player legally may push an opponent in an actual attempt to get at the ball (Rule 9-3-3-c-3); but no player may hold an opponent to prevent his reaching the ball, or in an attempt to permit a teammate to reach it (Rules 9-1-5 Exception 3 and 9-3-6 Exception 3). [Cited by 2-16-7-b] [Cited by 6-3-1-a, 6-4-1-a]

  4. Team A’s punt from behind its own goal line crosses the neutral zone into the field of play, strikes a Team B player and rebounds back across Team A’s goal line where A32 recovers. RULING: Safety (Rules 6-3-3, 6-3-6-a and 8-5-1-a). [Cited by 2-16-7-b] [Cited by 6-3-6-a, 8-5-1-a]

ARTICLE 2. Beyond the Neutral Zone



  1. No inbounds player of the kicking team shall touch a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone before it touches an opponent. This is illegal touching, a violation that, when the ball becomes dead, gives the receiving team the privilege of taking the ball at the spot of the violation (Exception: Rule 6-3-4) (A.R. 2-12-2:I) (A.R. 6-3-2:I).

  2. This privilege is cancelled if there is an accepted penalty for a live-ball foul by either team (A.R. 6-3-2:I-IV) (A.R. 6-3-11:I-III).

  3. The privilege is cancelled if there are offsetting fouls.

  4. Illegal touching in Team A’s end zone is ignored. Illegal touching on a try results in no score. Illegal touching in an extra period results in team possession ending.

Approved ruling 6-3-2


  1. Team A illegally touches its kick; then after Team B has touched it, Team A recovers. RULING: Touching by Team A after Team B has touched the kick is legal; and, in order to get the ball, Team B must take it where Team A illegally touched it. Unless illegal touching is also illegal recovery by the kicking team and no fouls are involved, the receiving team may play the ball with the assurance that it may later elect the ball at any spot of illegal touching. [Cited by 6-3-2-a, 6-3-2-b]
  2. During a scrimmage kick, A1 commits a touching violation, after which B1 recovers, advances and fumbles. A2 recovers the fumble and, during the advance, B2 holds, trips or slugs. RULING: Team A may have the ball where left by the penalty for Team B’s foul; but if Team A declines the penalty, Team B will have the ball by electing the touching violation. B2 is disqualified if flagged for slugging. [Cited by 6-3-2-b]
  3. Team A’s punt goes beyond the neutral zone and is first touched by A80, then picked up by B40, who runs five yards and fumbles. A20 picks up the fumble and scores. During A20’s run, B70 holds. RULING: The score does not count. Five- and 10-yard penalties are not administered on the try or the succeeding kickoff. The penalty for Team B’s foul is declined by rule because there is no enforcement spot. The ball belongs to Team B at the spot of illegal touching (Rule 10-2-5-a-2). [Cited by 10-2-5-a-2, 6-3-2-b]
  4. Team A’s punt goes beyond the neutral zone and is first touched by A80, then picked up by B40, who runs five yards and fumbles. B70 holds during B40’s run. A20 picks up the fumble and scores. RULING: The score does not count. Five- and 10-yard penalties are not administered on the try or the succeeding kickoff. Because the illegal touching provides an enforcement spot, the penalty for Team B’s foul may be enforced, per Rule 5-2-4. The ball belongs to Team B, either at the spot of illegal touching if Team A declines the penalty, or at the spot after the enforcement if Team A accepts the penalty (Rules 10-2-2 and 10-2-5-a-2). [Cited by 10-2-5-a-2, 6-3-2-b]

ARTICLE 3. All Become Eligible


When a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone touches a player of the receiving team who is inbounds, any player may catch or recover the ball (Rule 6-3-1-b) (Exception: Rules 6-3-4 and 6-5-1-b).

ARTICLE 4. Forced Touching Disregarded




  1. A player blocked by an opponent into a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone, shall not, while inbounds, be deemed to have touched the kick. (A.R. 6-3-4:I-V) (A.R. 2-11-4:I)

  2. An inbounds player touched by a ball either batted or illegally kicked by an opponent is not deemed to have touched the ball. (Rule 2-11-4-c) (A.R. 6-3-4:II).

Approved ruling 6-3-4


  1. Team A kicks from its own 30-yard line. The untouched kick has come to rest on Team B’s three-yard line when A3 blocks B1 into the ball, forcing it through the end zone and over the end line. RULING: Touchback. Since A3 blocked B1 into the ball, B1 is deemed not to have touched the ball. Impetus cannot be charged to Team B but is from the kick (Rule 8-7-1). [Cited by 6-3-4-a]
  2. Team A’s long field goal attempt is first touched when A1 bats the rolling ball backward into nearby B1. RULING: Illegal touching by A1. Team B is not deemed to have touched the ball (Rule 8-4-2-b). [Cited by 6-3-4-a, 6-3-4-b, 8-4-2-b-2]
  3. During a scrimmage kick, the untouched ball is at rest on the Team B three-yard line when B22 blocks A80 into the ball, forcing it into the end zone where it touches the ground. RULING: The ball is dead when it touches the ground in the end zone. Touchback — Ignore touching by A80. By rule, neither team has touched the kicked ball (Rule 8-6-1-b). [Cited by 6-3-4-a, 8-6-1-b, 8-7-2-a]
  4. As the punted ball rolls along the ground, punt receiver B22 is blocking A88 to prevent him from downing the ball. The two players are still engaged when the ball bounces into the leg of B22. A44 recovers at the B-30. RULING: Team A’s ball, first and 10 at the B-30. This is not forced touching. Although B22 was contacted by A88 when he touched the ball, this touching was not caused by the contact. The game clock starts on the snap. [Cited by 6-3-4-a]
  5. As a punt rolls along the ground, A44 blocks B33 into the ball, which bounces away and strikes B48 in the leg. Team A recovers. RULING: Team A’s ball, first and 10 at the spot of recovery. Although the touching by B33 is forced, that by B48 is not. B48’s touching of the ball allows Team A to recover legally (Rule 6-3-4-a). [Cited by 6-3-4-a]

ARTICLE 5. Catch or Recovery by Receiving Team


If a player of the receiving team catches or recovers a scrimmage kick, the ball continues in play (Exception: Rules 4-1-3-g, 6-3-9, 6-5-1 and 6-5-2). (A.R. 8-4-2:V)

ARTICLE 6. Catch or Recovery by Kicking Team




  1. If a player of the kicking team catches or recovers a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone, the ball becomes dead. (A.R. 6-3-1:IV) The ball belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot, unless the kicking team is in legal possession when the ball is declared dead. In the latter case, the ball belongs to the kicking team (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b).

  2. If opposing players who are each eligible to touch the ball simultaneously catch or recover a scrimmage kick, the simultaneous possession makes the ball dead. A kick declared dead in joint possession of opposing players is awarded to the receiving team (Rules 2-4-4 and 4-1-3-l).

ARTICLE 7. Out of Bounds Between Goal Lines or at Rest Inbounds


If a scrimmage kick goes out of bounds between the goal lines, or if it comes to rest inbounds and no player attempts to secure it, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b).

ARTICLE 8. Out of Bounds Behind Goal Line


If a scrimmage kick (other than one that scores a field goal) goes out of bounds behind a goal line, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the team defending that goal line (Rule 8-4-2-b).

ARTICLE 9. Touching Ground On or Behind Goal Line


If a scrimmage kick untouched by Team B beyond the neutral zone touches the ground on or behind Team B’s goal line, the ball becomes dead and belongs to Team B (Rule 8-4-2-b). (A.R. 6-3-9:I-II)

Approved ruling 6-3-9


  1. A33 illegally touches a punt and the ball then rolls into Team B’s end zone, where Team B recovers and advances the ball into the field of play. RULING: The ball is dead when it strikes the ground in the end zone. Team B may choose a touchback or take the ball at the spot of Team A’s illegal touching (Rule 4-1-3-c). [Cited by 4-1-3-c, 6-3-9]
  2. A punt goes into Team B’s end zone untouched by Team B beyond the neutral zone. Either (a) Team A or (b) Team B commits a personal foul after the ball touches the ground in the end zone. RULING: Touchback. Dead-ball foul after the touchback. Team B’s ball, first and 10 on the (a) 35-yard line or (b) 10-yard line after enforcement of the penalty at Team B’s 20. [Cited by 6-3-9]
  3. A Team B player touches a scrimmage kick in flight in Team B’s end zone and Team A downs the ball in the end zone. RULING: Team A touchdown (Rules 6-3-3 and 8-2-1-d). [Cited by 8-2-1-d]

ARTICLE 10. Legal and Illegal Kicks



  1. A legal scrimmage kick is a punt, drop kick or place kick made according to rule.

  2. A return kick is an illegal kick, a live-ball foul that causes the ball to become dead (Rule 2-16-8).

  3. PENALTY –
    For a return kick (live-ball foul): five yards from the spot of the foul [S31].

  4. A scrimmage kick made when the kicker’s entire body is beyond the neutral zone is an illegal kick, a live-ball foul that causes the ball to become dead.

  5. PENALTY –
    For an illegal kick beyond the neutral zone (live-ball foul): Five yards from the previous spot and loss of down [S31 and S9].

  6. No device or material may be used to mark the spot of a scrimmage place kick or elevate the ball. This is a live-ball foul at the snap.

  7. PENALTY –
    Five yards from the previous spot [S19].

ARTICLE 11. Loose Behind the Goal Line


If a scrimmage kick untouched by Team B after crossing the neutral zone is batted in Team B’s end zone by a player of Team A, it is a violation for illegal touching (Rule 6-3-2). The spot of the violation is Team B’s 20-yard line. This is a special case of batting in the end zone and is not a foul. (A.R. 6-3-11:I-V) (A.R. 2-12-2:I)

Approved ruling 6-3-11


  1. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. The kick is untouched beyond the neutral zone when A88 reaches across Team B’s goal line and bats the ball back into the field of play, and it rolls out of bounds at the B-4. RULING: No foul for batting the ball in the end zone. Illegal touching. The spot of the violation is the B-20. Team B’s ball, first and 10 at the B-20. [Cited by 6-3-11, 6-3-2-b, 9-4-1-c]
  2. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. The kick is untouched beyond the neutral zone when A88 reaches across Team B’s goal line and bats the ball back into the field of play. B22 recovers at the B-2 and advances to the B-12 where A66 tackles him by pulling his facemask. RULING: No foul for batting in the end zone. Illegal touching. Team B may accept the penalty for the facemask foul, which cancels the illegal touching privilege, and have first and 10 at the B-27. [Cited by 6-3-11, 6-3-2-b]
  3. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. The kick is untouched beyond the neutral zone when A88 reaches across Team B’s goal line and bats the ball back into the field of play. B22 muffs the ball at the B-2 and A43 recovers it at the B-6. While the ball is loose B77 holds A21 at the B-10. RULING: Team A may cancel the illegal touching privilege by accepting the holding penalty, which is enforced at the previous spot with the down repeated. Postscrimmage kick rules do not apply to B77’s foul since Team B will not next put the ball in play. [Cited by 6-3-11, 6-3-2-b]
  4. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. During the kick, B77 clips at Team B’s 25-yard line. The untouched kick is batted backward out of bounds from the end zone by Team A and goes out of bounds on the two-yard line. RULING: No foul for batting the ball in the end zone. Illegal touching. B77’s clipping foul is governed by postscrimmage kick rules. Team A will accept the penalty, which cancels the illegal touching privilege. The penalty is enforced at the postscrimmage kick spot, the B-20, half the distance to the goal line. Team B’s ball at the B-10. [Cited by 6-3-11]
  5. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. The kick is untouched beyond the neutral zone when A88 reaches across Team B’s goal line and bats the ball back into the field of play, and it rolls out of bounds at the B-4. During the kick, A55 blocks below the waist. RULING: No foul for batting the ball in the end zone. Illegal touching. The spot of the violation is the B-20. Team B may accept the penalty for blocking below the waist, which is enforced either at the B-4 or at the previous spot with the down repeated. If Team B declines the penalty, the illegal touching gives the ball to Team B, first and 10 at the B-20. [Cited by 6-3-11]

ARTICLE 12. Out of Bounds Player


No Team A player who goes out of bounds during a scrimmage kick down may return inbounds during the down (Exception: This does not apply to a Team A player who is blocked out of bounds and attempts to return inbounds immediately).
PENALTY –
Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot or five yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B. [S19].

Approved ruling 6-3-12


  1. A88 is running near the sideline to cover a punt when he steps on the sideline and then returns inbounds to continue down the field. He tackles the kick returner at the B-30. RULING: Foul by A88 for returning inbounds during the scrimmage kick play. 5-yard penalty. Team B may have the down repeated after the penalty or put the ball in play at the B-35.

ARTICLE 13. Fouls By Kicking Team


Penalties for all fouls between the goal lines by the kicking team other than kick-catch interference (Rule 6-4) during a scrimmage kick play (except field goal attempts) in which the ball crosses the neutral zone may be enforced either at the previous spot with the down repeated (Exception: Penalty option is a safety for fouls in Team A’s end zone) or at the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B, at the option of Team B.
(A.R. 6-3-13:I-III)

Approved ruling 6-3-13


  1. Team A punts on fourth and seven at the A-35. At the snap Team A has five players in the backfield. The kick is partially blocked and goes out of bounds at the A-45. RULING: Foul for illegal formation. Team B may have the ball, first and 10 at the A-40 after the five-yard penalty is enforced at the A-45 (the dead-ball spot) or have the penalty enforced at the previous spot with fourth down repeated at the A-30. [Cited by 6-3-13]
  2. Team A punts on fourth and seven at the A-35. At the snap Team A has five players in the backfield. The kick is partially blocked, does not cross the neutral zone and is returned by B88 to the A-28 where he is tackled. RULING: Team B may decline the penalty and have the ball at the A-28 or have the penalty enforced at the previous spot with fourth down repeated at the A-30. [Cited by 6-3-13]
  3. Team A punts on fourth and seven at the A-35. At the snap Team A has five players in the backfield. The kick is partially blocked, crosses the neutral zone, goes back behind the neutral zone and rolls out of bounds at the A-32. RULING: Team B may have the ball, first and 10 at the A-27 after the five-yard penalty is enforced at the A-32 (the dead-ball spot) or have the penalty enforced at the previous spot with fourth down repeated at the A-30. [Cited by 6-3-13]
  4. Fourth and 15 at the A-5. Punter A88 is in his end zone when he kicks the ball. Tackle A77 is flagged for holding in the end zone. Team B returns the ball to the B-45. RULING: Team B has the option of having possession after the penalty is enforced at the B-45 or accepting the penalty for a safety. (Rule 10-2-4)

ARTICLE 14. Defensive Linemen on Place Kicks


If Team A is in a formation to attempt a place kick (field goal or try), it is illegal for three Team B players on their line of scrimmage inside the free-blocking zone to align shoulder-to-shoulder and move forward together after the snap with primary contact against a single Team A player (A.R. 6-3-14:I-II).
PENALTY –
Live-ball foul. Five yards, previous spot [S19].

Approved ruling 6-3-14


  1. Fourth and seven at the B-20. Team A is in a formation to attempt a field goal. Defensive linemen B55, B57, and B78 are shoulder to shoulder. B57 is head up on right guard A66 while B55 and B78 are in the gaps on A66’s left and right shoulders, respectively. After the ball is snapped all three move forward together. (a) The three make their primary contact against A66; (b) B55 and B57 contact A66, and B78 drives at the right offensive tackle; (c) B57 and B78 make their blocks against A66 but B55 leaps to try to block the kick. RULING: (a) Foul. Five-yard penalty. If Team A accepts the penalty they will have fourth and two at the B-15. (b) and (c) No foul. The action by the Team B players does not involve primary contact against a single player, and hence the play is legal. [Cited by 6-3-14]
  2. Fourth and four at the B-20. Team A is in a formation to attempt a field goal. Team A has five players in the backfield. Defensive linemen B55, B57, and B78 are shoulder to shoulder. B57 is head up on right guard A66 while B55 and B78 are in the gaps on A66’s left and right shoulders, respectively. After the ball is snapped all three move forward together. The three make their primary contact against A66. The holder takes the snap, gets to his feet, and completes a pass to eligible A88 who is tackled at the B-10. RULING: Foul by Team A, illegal formation. Foul by Team B, triple team against an offensive lineman. The fouls offset and the down is repeated. [Cited by 6-3-14]