[PODCAST] Host Keith Grabowski discusses rarely utilized fair catch-free kick rule

By Matt Reed | Posted 7/26/2018

Photo via CBS Seattle


On today’s Coach and Coordinator podcast, host Keith Grabowski discusses a rarely used play in football. It comes from NFHS Rule Book, Article 10.2.4(a), that says when a fair catch is made on a kickoff or punt, the receiving team doesn't have to immediately go on offense:

SECTION 24 KICKS, ART. 3: A free kick is any legal kick which puts the ball in play to start a free kick down. After the ready-for-play signal and before the kick, each player other than the kicker and holder for a place kick must be behind his free-kick line. A free kick is used for a kickoff, for a kick following a safety, and is used if a free kick is chosen following a fair catch or awarded fair catch.

ART. 7 : A place kick is a legal kick made while the ball is in a fixed position on the ground or on a kicking tee. No material or device may be placed on the ground to improve the kicker’s footing. The ball also may be held in position on the ground or on a kicking tee by a place-kick holder who shall be a teammate of the kicker. A place kick may be used for a scrimmage kick, a kickoff, a free kick following a safety or for a free kick following a fair catch or awarded fair catch.

The last time the fair catch-free kick was seen in the NFL was in 2008, when San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson attempted a 71-yard free kick field goal. It’s only happened a handful of times in NFL history, with the lone success coming in 1976, when San Diego Chargers kicker Ray Wersching made the free kick against the Buffalo Bills. In recent history, it’s been used sparingly at the high school level, like here.

Grabowski talks about the meaning of the rule, and how it can impact your game plan. You can find more tips and information about the fair catch-free kick in this blog by Grabowski.

Show Notes

  • 1:36     The NFHS rule of the fair catch-free kick
  • 2:53     Understanding what the situation and rule means
  • 4:25     Important tips when considering the fair catch-free kick
  • 10:29   Defending against the free kick situation
  • 11:25   Strategies for using the free kick in-game
  • 13:38   Considering this play at the end of the game
  • 14:29   Installing the fair catch-free kick situation in camp

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