NCAA Rule 6 – Kicks

SECTION 1. Free Kicks


ARTICLE 1. Restraining Lines


For any free kick formation, the kicking team’s restraining line shall be the yard line through the most forward point from which the ball shall be kicked, and the receiving team’s restraining line shall be the yard line 10 yards beyond that point. Unless relocated by a penalty, the kicking team’s restraining line on a kickoff shall be its line 15 yards from the midfield line, and for a free kick after a safety, its 20-yard line.

ARTICLE 2. Free Kick Formation



  1. A ball from a free kick formation must be kicked legally and from some point on Team A’s restraining line (Exception: Rule 6-1-2-c-4) and on or between the hash marks. The referee will declare the ball ready for play when the officials are in position after the kicker has received the ball. After the ball is ready for play and for any reason it falls from the tee, Team A shall not kick the ball and the official shall sound his whistle immediately.

  2. After the ball has been made ready for play, all players on the kicking team, except the kicker, must be no more than five yards behind their restraining line. A player satisfies this rule when one foot is on or beyond the line five yards behind the restraining line. If one player is more than five yards behind the restraining line and any other player kicks the ball, it is a foul. (A.R. 6-1-2:VII)

  3. When the ball is kicked (A.R. 6-1-2:I-IV):

    1. Each Team A player, except the holder and kicker of a place kick, must be behind the ball [S18]. (A.R. 6-1-2:V)

    2. All Team A players must be inbounds [S19].

    3. At least four Team A players must be on each side of the kicker [S19]. (A.R. 6-1-2:II-IV)

    4. After a safety, when a punt or drop kick is used, the ball may be kicked from behind the kicking team’s restraining line. If a yardage penalty for a live-ball foul is enforced from the previous spot, administration is from the 20-yard line, unless the kicking team’s restraining line has been relocated by a previous penalty [S18 or appropriate signal].

    5. All players of Team A must have been between the nine-yard marks after the ready for play signal [S19].

    6. PENALTY –
      [a-c5] Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot, or five yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B, or from the spot where the ball is placed after a touchback [S18 or S19]. (A.R. 6-1-2:VI)

    7. All Team B players must be inbounds [S19].

    8. All Team B players must be behind their restraining line [S18].

    9. PENALTY –
      [c6-c7] Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S18 or S19].

Approved ruling 6-1-2


  1. The ball is kicked while teed illegally, punted on a kickoff or kicked from a spot between the hash mark and the nearer sideline. RULING: Illegal kick. Dead-ball foul. Penalty — Five yards from the succeeding spot ( 2-16-1-b). [Cited by 2-16-1-b, 6-1-2-c]
  2. Kicker A11 places the ball on the tee in the centre of the field for a free kick with four teammates to the left side of the ball and six teammates to the right side of the ball. The ball blows off the tee, and A55 — who was lined up to the left of the ball — holds the ball on the tee for right-footed kicker A11. No other Team A players move. When the ball is kicked by A11, A55 is to the kicker’s right. RULING: Foul by Team A for illegal formation at the kick. Penalty — Five yards from the previous spot or five yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B. [Cited by 6-1-2-c-3, 6-1-2-c]
  3. Free-kicker A11 places the ball on the tee just inside the hash mark line on his right. All of his teammates line up to his left. At the ready for play, four Team A players who were on A11’s left run to their right and are in the area to A11’s right when he kicks the ball. RULING: Legal formation. [Cited by 6-1-2-c-3, 6-1-2-c]
  4. A11 places the ball on the tee for a free kick on the 35-yard line in the centre of the field. A12 lines up near the ball. After the ready for play, A11 starts forward as if to kick the ball, and A12 suddenly crosses in front of him and kicks the ball. When the ball is kicked, A11 is directly behind the ball with three teammates on one side of the ball. A12 plants his non-kicking foot on the same side of the ball as his three teammates. RULING: Foul by Team A for illegal formation. Penalty — five yards from the previous spot and rekick if Team B chooses; or five yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B. [Cited by 6-1-2-c-3, 6-1-2-c]
  5. Team A is offside during its free kick. B27 has his knee on the ground when he recovers the kick. RULING: Foul by Team A for offside. The ball is dead at the spot of the recovery. Penalty — Team B may choose five yards from the previous spot and another free kick, or five yards from the dead-ball spot with a first and 10. B27’s recovery started a running play that ended immediately. This scenario also would have been valid if B27 had completed a fair catch. [Cited by 6-1-2-c-1]
  6. Team A is offside on its free kick and B17 catches the ball at his 15-yard line. B17 returns the ball to his 45-yard line where he fumbles. A67 recovers at the B-47 and runs to the B-35 where he fumbles, with B20 recovering while downed at his 33-yard line. RULING: Foul by Team A for offside. Team B may choose to have Team A kick again after a five-yard penalty from the previous spot, or Team B may have a first and 10 at its 38-yard line. [Cited by 6-1-2 Penalty]
  7. Team A is in its formation to kick off at the A-35. Two players, A33 and A66, are positioned in a four-point stance with their feet on the A-29 and their hands on the A-31. The untouched kick hits the ground in Team B’s end zone and is declared dead. RULING: Touchback. Team A foul, illegal formation. Team B has two options for accepting the penalty: Put the ball in play at the B-25, after a five-yard penalty at the spot (the B-20) where the dead ball belongs to them; or have Team A re-kick at the A-30 (Rule 6-1-8). [Cited by 6-1-2-b]

ARTICLE 3. Touching and Recovery of a Free Kick



  1. No Team A player may touch a free-kicked ball until after:

    1. It touches a Team B player (Exception: Rules 6-1-4 and 6-5-1-b);

    2. It breaks the plane of and remains beyond Team B’s restraining line (Exception: Rule 6-4-1) (A.R. 2-12-5:I); or

    3. It touches any player, the ground, an official or anything beyond Team B’s restraining line.

      Thereafter, all players of Team A become eligible to touch, recover or catch the kick.

  2. Any other touching by Team A 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.

  3. If there is an accepted penalty for a live-ball foul by either team, or if there are offsetting fouls, the illegal touching privilege is cancelled. (A.R. 6-1-3:I)

  4. Illegal touching in Team A’s end zone is ignored.

Approved ruling 6-1-3


  1. A33 illegally touches a free kick; then he or A44 illegally recovers the kick. RULING: Both are instances of illegal touching. Unless there is an accepted penalty or offsetting fouls, Team B may elect to take the ball at any spot of the illegal touching. [Cited by 6-1-3-c]
  2. Team A executes an on-side free kick at the A-35. The untouched kick is at the A-43 when A55 blocks B44 above the waist in the front at the A-46. A28 muffs the ball at the A-44, and after it rolls to the A-46, A88 blocks B22 at the A-42. The ball is then recovered by A20 at the A-44. RULING: The block by A55 is a foul and the touching by A28 is illegal, because Team A is not eligible to touch the ball since it has not gone 10 yards nor has it been touched by Team B. The block by A88 is legal because it occurs after the ball has gone 10 yards. Team A is in legal possession of the ball when A20 recovers it at the A-44. Team B has two options: Decline the penalty for the illegal block and have the ball at the A-44 via the illegal-touching privilege, or cancel the illegal-touching privilege by having Team A re-kick from the A-30 after the 5-yard penalty for the block by A55. Note that the dead-ball spot, the A-44, is not an enforcement spot because the ball does not belong to Team B when the down ends (Rule 6-1-12). [Cited by 6-1-12]

ARTICLE 4. Forced Touching Disregarded




  1. A player blocked by an opponent into a free kick is not, while inbounds, deemed to have touched the kick. (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).

ARTICLE 5. Free Kick at Rest


If a free kick 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.

ARTICLE 6. Free Kick Caught or Recovered



  1. If a free kick is caught or recovered by a player of the receiving team, the ball continues in play (Exceptions: Rules 4-1-3-g, 6-1-7, 6-5-1 and 6-5-2). If caught or recovered by a player of the kicking team, the ball becomes dead. 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.

  2. When opposing players, each eligible to touch the ball, simultaneously recover a rolling kick or catch a free kick, the simultaneous possession makes the ball dead. A kick declared dead in joint possession is awarded to the receiving team.

ARTICLE 7. Ball Dead in End Zone


When a free kick untouched by Team B touches the ground on or behind Team B’s goal line, the ball becomes dead and belongs to Team B.

ARTICLE 8. Fouls By Kicking Team


Penalties for all fouls by the kicking team other than kick-catch interference (Rule 6-4) during a free kick play may be enforced at the previous spot with the down repeated or at the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B, at the option of Team B.

ARTICLE 9. Foul Against Kicker


The kicker of a free kick may not be blocked until he has advanced five yards beyond his restraining line or the kick has touched a player, an official or the ground (Rule 9-1-16-c).
PENALTY –
15 yards from the previous spot [S40].

ARTICLE 10. Illegal Wedge Formation



  1. A wedge is defined as two or more players aligned shoulder to shoulder within two yards of each other.

  2. Free-kick down only: After the ball has been kicked, it is illegal for three or more members of the receiving team intentionally to form a wedge for the purpose of blocking for the ball carrier. This is a live-ball foul, whether or not there is contact between opponents.

  3. PENALTY –
    Noncontact foul. 15 yards from the spot of the foul, or 15 yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B if this is behind the spot of the foul. 15 yards from the previous spot with the down repeated if the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team A [S27].

  4. Formation of the wedge is not illegal when the kick is from an obvious onside kick formation.

  5. There is no foul if the play results in a touchback.

ARTICLE 11. Player Out of Bounds


A Team A player who goes out of bounds during a free kick down may not 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, or from the spot where the ball is placed after a touchback [S19].

ARTICLE 12. Eligibility to Block


No Team A player may block an opponent until Team A is eligible to touch a free-kicked ball (A.R. 6-1-3:II).
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, or from the spot where the ball is placed after a touchback [S19].