Definition of Onside Kick

What does the term "onside kick" mean in the world of football? What is the definition of an "onside kick"?

In football, an "onside kick" is when a team tries to keep possession of the ball by successfully recovering a short kick.

The term Onside Kick meaning is explained and illustrated.  What is it and what is the example of it?With an onside kick, the ball must travel at least 10 yards from where the kick-off took place, unless the receiving team touches the ball first.

So, if the kicking team recovers the kick but the ball only travels eight yards, the kick will be called back and the kicking team will be assessed a five-yard penalty and will be forced to kick again.

If the ball fails to travel 10 yards once again, the receiving team will automatically receive the ball at the spot on the field where the kicking team recovered it.

In most cases, the kicker will attempt to bounce the ball high off the ground, essentially creating a "jump ball" situation.

In some cases, the kicker will attempt to hit one of the receiving players with the ball, which creates a "live ball", even though the ball may not have travelled a total of ten yards.


With onside kicks, the kicking team will line up most of their players on one side of the field.

With both the receiving and kicking team, players with "good hands" will be used to try and recover the ball. This is why you will often see wide receivers take part in online kicks, as they are most adept at catching the ball.


Onside kicks most often occur at the end of games when a team is down and doing a normal kickoff would cost them the game, as the other team would simply be able to run down the clock in order to win.