The definition of a punt in football centers on its role to transfer the possession of the football from one team to the next. The objective of most punts is to improve field position for the punting team.
On any one punting play, a lot is going on. The offensive team transitions from blocking for the punter to attempting to tackle the returner if a return is attempted. Defensive players transition from possibly blocking the punt to blocking for their returner. Each player on both teams has a role, and as such, there’s all kind of actions going on. Please read on to learn more.
What is a punt in football?
In American football, a punt is a form of kick executed on fourth downs during football games to transfer possession of the football to the other team. To perform a punt, a designated player who receives the ball in the backfield drops the ball to his foot and kicks it without touching the ground to the other team.
Punts facilitate a change in possession — which team has the ball. The receiving team takes over on offense unless there is a turnover.
The goal of a punt is to kick the ball as close to the end zone that the punter’s team is attacking without it going into the end zone.
Punts are executed with the special teams unit from both teams.
Punters want to get the ball as close to the end zone as possible because that gives the other team more yards needed to score.
What are the rules for punting in football?
- The ball is snapped by the long snapper.
- The punter punts from behind the line of scrimmage. Unlike kickoffs, the ball can be punted out of bounds with no penalty.
- The punt returning team may attempt to block the punt.
- Players aren’t allowed to block below the waist on punt returns.
- All players on the kicking team may cross the line of scrimmage and attempt to tackle the punt returner.
- The punt returner has three options: catch the ball and run, catch the ball and call a fair catch, or leave the ball without touching it.
- The punting team must allow the punt returner an opportunity to catch the ball unimpeded.
- If the punt returner, or any member of the returning team, touches the ball without gaining possession (muffed punt), the punting team may fight to win the ball. Whichever team recovers, the muffed punt cannot advance the ball.
- If the punt returner elects to leave the ball without touching it, the ball punt returner’s team will take over where the ball stops rolling. The defense can stop the ball at any point they wish.
- Punts kicked into the end zone result in a touchback, where the punt returning team will take the ball from their 20-yard-line.
What is a fair catch?
A fair catch is when the punt returner waves his hand in the air before catching it. Once he has called a fair catch, the player can catch the ball but cannot advance it. This is done to protect the player from getting hurt by the onrushing defense. The receiver can also call for a fair catch from the 50-yard-line when the punt returners team can attempt a free-kick.
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Who punts the ball in football?
On most occasions, punts are executed by players designated to punt the ball. These players are referred to as punters. A punter’s role centers on the objective of improving his team’s field position. A long punt with a short return might mean a net gain of 50 yards for his team.
Along with kicking, many punters are also the holder on field-goal attempts.
What is a good punt?
A punt is considered suitable for higher-level leagues whenever the punt reaches inside the 20 or kicks greater than 50 yards. Punts under 40 yards without going inside the 20-yard-line are regarded as a poor punt. In 2019, NFL punters averaged between 41.6 and 49.6 yards a punt. The ideal punt would be downed inside the five.
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Who are the best NFL punters of all time?
No article on the punt definition in football would be complete without a list of the top NFL punters. Here they are:
- Ray Guy — Seven-time pro bowler who played for the Oakland Raiders. A rival coach once had Guy’s punting football checked for helium.
- Jerrel Wilson — This Chiefs’ star was also known as “Thunderfoot.”
- Sammy Baugh — Average 51.4 yards per punt in 1940. Wow!
- Shane Lechler — Another Raiders’ punting star who played 18 years in the NFL. He was a nine-time All-Pro.
- Yale Lary — Detroit Lions star who also played safety and kick returner.
- Andy Lee — Averaged 50.9 yards per punt in 2011.
I’d imagine punting plays account for a high percentage of turnovers over the course of a season. For that reason, and others, it’s an exciting aspect of the game.
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