Kick returner

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The Kick Returner (KR) is a special team player on an American football team .

Task and process

The kickoff returner after a kickoff responsible for the other team to catch the ball as far as possible and to carry back (English to return -. Return, -carry).

The fishing technique is the only technique that is only used in the special teams. In contrast to an interception, the ball comes from a greater height and therefore has a more acute angle and has a greater speed. The ball is not caught out of the air, instead the arms are brought together at the elbows and a conical basket is formed by leaning back slightly with the upper body. When catching, the returner stands parallel to the ball and crouches down to better absorb the swing of the ball.

Alternatively, he can indicate a so-called fair catch , then he may catch the ball unmolested and not be tackled , but may no longer carry the ball forward. The returner chooses the fair catch if the opponents come too close and the risk of a fumble when catching the ball is too great.

The offense begins its attack at the point where the fair catch took place or at the point to which the returner was able to carry the ball back. If the returner catches the ball in his own end zone and does not carry it back, but goes on his knees or makes a fair catch there, there is a touchback and the offense begins at his own 20- yard line. In this case, a kick returner has to quickly decide whether to catch the football at all: if he runs out with the ball without reaching the 20-yard line, he would have preferred to allow the touchback.

A kick returner is usually a very fast player. This role is often taken on by a wide receiver , defensive back or a running back . Reserve players usually take over the positions in the special teams.

Due to the similar tasks, a kick returner can also function as a punt returner , but two different players are often used. As a rule of thumb, a kickoff (i.e., kicking straight off the ground) is less difficult to catch than a punt (i.e., kicking out of the hand with spin ), but returning is riskier. The main reason is that the opposing gunner who want to tackle the kick returner rush towards the kick returner at full speed. Even if the other players block flawlessly, violent collisions can occur. This risk of injury led to the fact that in 2011 the NFL decided that kickoffs should no longer be kicked from the 30-yard line, but from the 35-yard line. Since then, the role of kick returners has been marginalized, as kickoffs often lead to touchbacks: in 2014 the Carolina Panthers had a kickoff touchback rate of over 74%.


Leon Washington had eight kick-return touchdowns.

The longest kickoff return in National Football League (NFL) history was made by Cordarrelle Patterson , a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings , on October 27, 2013. He ran 109 yards to a kickoff-return touchdown . The longest kickoff return in the play-offs of the NFL came at the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl XLVII to the returner of the Baltimore Ravens , Jacoby Jones , who ran over 108 yards to the kickoff-return touchdown. Gale Sayers achieved the highest number of yards per return . In his career, the running back, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, averaged 30.56 yards per return. Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs (8 each) hold the record for kick-return touchdowns .


  1. Michael Daub : The Kick Off Return Team . In: Touchdown24 . S. 51 .
  2. Jets' special teams coach has' no reservation 'about Percy Harvin returning punts, despite inexperience ,
  3. ^ 1st and 10 with Allen Rossum ( September 27, 2010 memento in the Internet Archive ),
  4. NFL Team Kickoff Touchback Percentage ,

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