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Onside Kick


Bobref

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Saw this happen Friday night. It was obviously coached to be executed this way, and that just goes to show you it pays to know the rules.

On a kickoff, the kicker popped the ball over the heads of the first wave of the receiving team, and a member of the kicking team ran to a pre-designated spot and caught the airborne kick on the dead run, with no member of the receiving team in the vicinity, and headed for the end zone. Of course, the officials blew the ball dead immediately.

This play, while a spectacular example of flawless special teams execution, did not stand. When the kickers touch an airborne free kick not touched first by the receivers, it is a foul for kick catching interference, even though the receivers were not in a position to field the kick. It’s different on a punt. But on a kickoff, this is a foul. If accepted, the receivers have their choice of a 15 yd. penalty from the previous spot and a re-kick, or an awarded fair catch after a 15 yd. penalty from the spot of the interference.

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1 minute ago, gonzoron said:

How wrong did they get it? Did they also award the ball to the kicking team? 

Regrettably, yes. Fortunately, the favorable field position did not result in a score, and the receiving team ended up winning.

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2 minutes ago, Bobref said:

I have seen things ...

I hope you continue to mentor as long as you can. Your knowledge and experience is invaluable to officials. I hope they appreciate and learn from it. When starting out in my trade, I always paid attention to the old timers, unlike most of my peers. They didn't want to hear what those old guys had to say. To me, that's where the best education came from. 

 

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8 minutes ago, jets said:

I'm so confused by this whole thread! An onside kick, if traveled 10 yards, can be received by the kicking team, correct? 

But you're telling me that if the kick is airborne, (hasn't hit the ground yet), then it can't be recovered by the kicking team? 

I could see where some confusion may happen. 

Nothing wrong with your reading comprehension skills. A free kick must both go 10 yds. and hit the ground before the kickers are legally entitled to touch the kick, unless it was touched by the receivers first.

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33 minutes ago, Bobref said:

Saw this happen Friday night. It was obviously coached to be executed this way, and that just goes to show you it pays to know the rules.

On a kickoff, the kicker popped the ball over the heads of the first wave of the receiving team, and a member of the kicking team ran to a pre-designated spot and caught the airborne kick on the dead run, with no member of the receiving team in the vicinity, and headed for the end zone. Of course, the officials blew the ball dead immediately.

This play, while a spectacular example of flawless special teams execution, did not stand. When the kickers touch an airborne free kick not touched first by the receivers, it is a foul for kick catching interference, even though the receivers were not in a position to field the kick. It’s different on a punt. But on a kickoff, this is a foul. If accepted, the receivers have their choice of a 15 yd. penalty from the previous spot and a re-kick, or an awarded fair catch after a 15 yd. penalty from the spot of the interference.

Which option did the receivers choose? I would choose the ball and the 15 yard penalty from spot of interference. That should put the receiving team on the kicking team side of midfield. 

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1 hour ago, gonzoron said:

Which option did the receivers choose? I would choose the ball and the 15 yard penalty from spot of interference. That should put the receiving team on the kicking team side of midfield. 

I am somewhat embarrassed to report that neither option was chosen ... because the crew got it wrong. We had a nice little chat about it after the game.

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1 minute ago, Bobref said:

I am somewhat embarrassed to report that neither option was chosen ... because the crew got it wrong. We had a nice little chat about it after the game.

How wrong did they get it? Did they also award the ball to the kicking team? 

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2 minutes ago, Jim Beaver said:

I know refs make mistakes, but it is difficult to believe an experienced varsity crew did not know that rule on kicks.  

I have seen things ...

They actually threw the flag, conferred as a crew, and then picked it up. Can’t fault their process. But they came to the wrong decision, and there’s no excuse for not knowing the rule.

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3 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

I hope you continue to mentor as long as you can. Your knowledge and experience is invaluable to officials. I hope they appreciate and learn from it. When starting out in my trade, I always paid attention to the old timers, unlike most of my peers. They didn't want to hear what those old guys had to say. To me, that's where the best education came from. 

Officiating is like anything else. You achieve success by standing on the shoulders of others. I owe a great many people.

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I appreciate BOBref and his honesty and insight about this mistake.  Refs are human and make mistakes.  The problem is this.. There are two possibilities with this issue. I assume Bobref was at the game since he said he said they had a nice chat after the game.  

1.  They conferred and not one person on the crew knew the rule.  BOBref has said there is no excuse for not knowing the rule.

2.  The 2nd possibility is worse.  Members of that crew knew the rule, but just didnt care enough or have the courage of their convictions to tell the others what the rule was.  That is totally sad if that is the case.  

Of course neither is acceptable, but I would be interested if Bob ref thinks it was the first or the 2nd case.  

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19 minutes ago, Jim Beaver said:

I appreciate BOBref and his honesty and insight about this mistake.  Refs are human and make mistakes.  The problem is this.. There are two possibilities with this issue. I assume Bobref was at the game since he said he said they had a nice chat after the game.  

1.  They conferred and not one person on the crew knew the rule.  BOBref has said there is no excuse for not knowing the rule.

2.  The 2nd possibility is worse.  Members of that crew knew the rule, but just didnt care enough or have the courage of their convictions to tell the others what the rule was.  That is totally sad if that is the case.  

Of course neither is acceptable, but I would be interested if Bob ref thinks it was the first or the 2nd case.  

I don’t need to speculate, since I got a firsthand account. There was disagreement among the crew members. They conferred. A crew is not a democracy, and while all input should be factored into the decision-making process, ultimately the guy with the white hat has the only vote that counts, and he got it wrong.

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23 hours ago, Bobref said:

Saw this happen Friday night. It was obviously coached to be executed this way, and that just goes to show you it pays to know the rules.

On a kickoff, the kicker popped the ball over the heads of the first wave of the receiving team, and a member of the kicking team ran to a pre-designated spot and caught the airborne kick on the dead run, with no member of the receiving team in the vicinity, and headed for the end zone. Of course, the officials blew the ball dead immediately.

This play, while a spectacular example of flawless special teams execution, did not stand. When the kickers touch an airborne free kick not touched first by the receivers, it is a foul for kick catching interference, even though the receivers were not in a position to field the kick. It’s different on a punt. But on a kickoff, this is a foul. If accepted, the receivers have their choice of a 15 yd. penalty from the previous spot and a re-kick, or an awarded fair catch after a 15 yd. penalty from the spot of the interference.

As a strategy, did it appear that the kicking team would've had time to field the ball if it wasn't airborne?

Also, what defines airborne? If a kick hits a receiving field player in the helmet (I've seen it on a line-drive kick that hit the first row of blockers), is the ball still considered to be airborne or must it first strike the ground to have a legal touch by the kicking team. Also, assuming that player is at least 10 yards from the kick, can the kicking team legally touch the ball before it hits the ground, but has not gone 10 yards (picturing a pin ball that bounces off a player's helmet and back toward the kicking team).

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14 minutes ago, hhpatriot04 said:

As a strategy, did it appear that the kicking team would've had time to field the ball if it wasn't airborne?

Also, what defines airborne? If a kick hits a receiving field player in the helmet (I've seen it on a line-drive kick that hit the first row of blockers), is the ball still considered to be airborne or must it first strike the ground to have a legal touch by the kicking team. Also, assuming that player is at least 10 yards from the kick, can the kicking team legally touch the ball before it hits the ground, but has not gone 10 yards (picturing a pin ball that bounces off a player's helmet and back toward the kicking team).

All good rules questions that, fortunately, have clear cut answers.

Hard to say whether the kickers could have let the ball hit the ground and still recovered it. The ball’s not round, so it bounces funny. Thinking about the play, I’m not sure whether the players were actually coached to try and catch the ball on the fly or not. The crew initially threw the flag and, as soon as that happened, the kickers sent their defense on to the field, so I assume their coaches knew that they weren’t going to be able to keep the ball.

As to the other questions, keep in mind the basic rule: The kickers can legally touch a free kick untouched by the receivers only after it has both gone 10 yds. and touched the ground. These requirements can be satisfied in any order. “Airborne” simply means the ball has not yet touched the ground. Once the kick does so, it is considered to be “grounded,” not “airborne.” But whether the kick has been grounded or is still airborne, it can be recovered (but not advanced) by the kickers if it has been touched first by the receivers.

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4 minutes ago, Bobref said:

All good rules questions that, fortunately, have clear cut answers.

Hard to say whether the kickers could have let the ball hit the ground and still recovered it. The ball’s not round, so it bounces funny. Thinking about the play, I’m not sure whether the players were actually coached to try and catch the ball on the fly or not. The crew initially threw the flag and, as soon as that happened, the kickers sent their defense on to the field, so I assume their coaches knew that they weren’t going to be able to keep the ball.

As to the other questions, keep in mind the basic rule: The kickers can legally touch a free kick untouched by the receivers only after it has both gone 10 yds. and touched the ground. These requirements can be satisfied in any order. “Airborne” simply means the ball has not yet touched the ground. Once the kick does so, it is considered to be “grounded,” not “airborne.” But whether the kick has been grounded or is still airborne, it can be recovered (but not advanced) by the kickers if it has been touched first by the receivers.

I'm still not clear if a ball that hits a receiving team player past 10 yards is considered "grounded" (because the player is grounded) or "airborne" because the ball has not yet itself touched the ground...

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23 minutes ago, hhpatriot04 said:

I'm still not clear if a ball that hits a receiving team player past 10 yards is considered "grounded" (because the player is grounded) or "airborne" because the ball has not yet itself touched the ground...

A loose ball is airborne until it touches the ground. Once it has done so, it is considered grounded. The point is, the distinction between an airborne free kick and a grounded free kick becomes meaningless once a member of the receiving team touches the kick.

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2 minutes ago, JustRules said:

Let me try to explain this without lawyer-speak. 😎

K can legally touch the ball if it has touched the ground and traveled 10 yards OR has touched a receiving team player.

That’s not lawyer-speak. It’s “white hat-speak.” 😉

Edited by Bobref
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I'm so confused by this whole thread! An onside kick, if traveled 10 yards, can be received by the kicking team, correct? 

But you're telling me that if the kick is airborne, (hasn't hit the ground yet), then it can't be recovered by the kicking team? 

I could see where some confusion may happen. 

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10 hours ago, jets said:

I'm so confused by this whole thread! An onside kick, if traveled 10 yards, can be received by the kicking team, correct? 

But you're telling me that if the kick is airborne, (hasn't hit the ground yet), then it can't be recovered by the kicking team? 

I could see where some confusion may happen. 

Yep...if it has not hit the ground or a player on the receiving team, they cannot recover it. I am curious if a player on the kicking team can bat/tip/touch it? I am assuming no since the penalty is kick catch interference? 

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10 hours ago, jets said:

I'm so confused by this whole thread! An onside kick, if traveled 10 yards, can be received by the kicking team, correct? 

But you're telling me that if the kick is airborne, (hasn't hit the ground yet), then it can't be recovered by the kicking team? 

I could see where some confusion may happen. 

You are correct. K cannot be the first to touch an airborne free kick.

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On 9/20/2020 at 7:05 AM, Bobref said:

Saw this happen Friday night. It was obviously coached to be executed this way, and that just goes to show you it pays to know the rules.

On a kickoff, the kicker popped the ball over the heads of the first wave of the receiving team, and a member of the kicking team ran to a pre-designated spot and caught the airborne kick on the dead run, with no member of the receiving team in the vicinity, and headed for the end zone. Of course, the officials blew the ball dead immediately.

This play, while a spectacular example of flawless special teams execution, did not stand. When the kickers touch an airborne free kick not touched first by the receivers, it is a foul for kick catching interference, even though the receivers were not in a position to field the kick. It’s different on a punt. But on a kickoff, this is a foul. If accepted, the receivers have their choice of a 15 yd. penalty from the previous spot and a re-kick, or an awarded fair catch after a 15 yd. penalty from the spot of the interference.

Had no idea about this rule then many years ago, WL surprised us with one of those pop 15 yarders that one of their speed kids caught in air, Crew that night threw a flag and learned something "new" that night.   probably 8-9 years ago    

 

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9 hours ago, Coach Nowlin said:

Had no idea about this rule then many years ago, WL surprised us with one of those pop 15 yarders that one of their speed kids caught in air, Crew that night threw a flag and learned something "new" that night.   probably 8-9 years ago    

 

I was an assistant at Cathedral when I learned of this rule. We had practiced it two times every day all season. We get to week 8, and try it. It was the first time we had perfectly executed it. As soon as our player caught it, the flag came out. 
I was coaching a JV game a few years ago, and the team we were playing pulled it off. I tried explaining to the official that the call is kick catch interference. I was not yelling, but asked how it is not. He was not hearing it. I told him as he walked off the field I will bet you a case of beer I was right. I have not heard from him since. 

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4 hours ago, Irishman said:

I was an assistant at Cathedral when I learned of this rule. We had practiced it two times every day all season. We get to week 8, and try it. It was the first time we had perfectly executed it. As soon as our player caught it, the flag came out. 
I was coaching a JV game a few years ago, and the team we were playing pulled it off. I tried explaining to the official that the call is kick catch interference. I was not yelling, but asked how it is not. He was not hearing it. I told him as he walked off the field I will bet you a case of beer I was right. I have not heard from him since. 

It's a weird one that rarely happens (I've only seen it 2 or 3 times in all my years of officiating). Officials will sometimes get confused because it's legal on a punt if there is no R player in position to make the catch. If I had to bet it's probably called correctly 50% of the time it happens so you experience is not surprising. It's always an interesting sequence of emotions when it is called correctly. The coach from elated when his team executes to disappointed when he finds out it's not allowed to angry when he learns not only does the other team get the ball, but they get 15 yards tacked on for a penalty as well.

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