Punt (football)

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In some codes of football, a punt is a play in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it touches the ground. A punt is in contrast to a drop kick, in which the ball touches the ground before being kicked.

In American and Canadian football, the ball is kicked downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. In rugby football codes, the ball may be punted in open play by any player in order to gain field position, or a short-high punt known as an up and under kick in an attempt to disrupt the defensive line.

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American and Canadian football

The team in possession of the ball will typically punt the ball to the opposing team when they are on their final down (fourth down in American football, third down in Canadian football) in such a field position that they do not believe they can successfully make a field goal, and, given the game situation, they do not want to risk a turnover on downs in that part of the field if they fail to reach the first down marker. The purpose of a punt is for the team in possession, or "kicking team", to move the ball towards the opponent's end zone in order to maximize the length the opposing team (the "receiving team") must advance the ball in order to score a touchdown when they take possession of the ball.

A punt play involves the kicking team lining up at the line of scrimmage with the kicker, or punter, lined up usually 15 yards behind the center (in American football this distance is shortened if the ball is on a spot such that the kicker's normal position is on or beyond the end line). The receiving team lines up with one or two players downfield to catch the ball. The center makes a long snap to the kicker who then drops the ball and kicks it before it hits the ground. The player who catches the ball is then entitled to attempt to advance the ball.

The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team at the spot where:

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