When one of the teams kicks the ball to the other, the game officially begins. Teams kick the ball from their own 35-yard line in the NFL.
Kick to the side:
An onside kick is a popular variation of a traditional kick in which the kicking team attempts to reclaim possession of the ball by kicking it a short distance. On a kickoff, the ball is a live ball once it has traveled ten total yards and can be picked up for possession by any team.
The squib kick is a low, bouncing kick. Although a squib kick normally offers the receiving side superior field position than a regular kick, it is occasionally employed to avoid giving up a potentially long return while also wasting crucial clock time.
The receiving team must catch the ball and attempt to return it as far as possible to the kicking team, or if the kickoff has advanced far enough, the receiving team can elect for a touchback, which occurs when a kickoff or punt enters the end zone but is not advanced beyond the goal line by a receiving team player. In this scenario, the receiving team receives the ball on their own twenty-yard line to begin their drive. A fair catch may also occur, in which a player on the receiving team waves his arms, waiving his right to attempt a return run, but he is then immune to the kicking team’s touch. In some cases, this helps to avoid fumbles.
If a touchback is not attempted, the kickoff play finishes when the player in possession of the ball is tackled or reaches the end zone of the kicking team for a touchdown. The line of scrimmage is established where the kick returner was tackled, and this is where the offence will begin their possession. The line of scrimmage refers to the spot where the ball is spotted before a play is executed. Once this point is established, the receiving team’s attacking squad will enter and attempt to move the ball toward the opposition’s end zone.
Taking the Kick Back
On a kickoff, the receiving team lines up on the 45-yard line of the opposing team. A handful of players positioned deep around the goal line are usually in charge of catching the kick and returning it. These players will strive to get as far upfield as possible after collecting the kick before being tackled or driven out of bounds. Blockers are the other players on the receiving team who are not returning the kick.
For example, if a player violates his position constraints prior to the kickoff (5-yard penalty), or if the ball runs out of bounds before touching a player (20 yards or the receiving team’s 40-yard line, whichever is farther), penalties are in force.