With football players getting stronger and faster, the NFL announced new rules on Tuesday to help prevent injuries during the kickoff in games.
Another year, another rule change for kickoffs in the NFL. The league’s owners voted to implement these new rules and procedures for the upcoming 2018 season on Tuesday.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 23, 2018
- No running starts before the ball is kicked.
- The kicking team must line up with five players on each side of the kicker.
- At least two players on the kicking team must be outside the numbers.
- At least two players on the kicking team must be between the numbers and the hash marks.
- At least eight players on the receiving team must be within 15 yards of their restraining line, which would typically mean between the kicking team’s 45-yard line and the receiving team’s 40-yard line.
- Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line, typically the 45-yard line or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.
- No wedge blocks.
When looking at the former rules in the chart below, the league and owners made changes to all of the former rules that were in effect last season.
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) May 22, 2018
These rule changes are meant to help control the high impact hits that occur during kickoffs. The NFL acknowledges that the hard impacts on kickoffs are one of the most dangerous plays in the game. The league is trying to set up the kickoff to be more like punts where there is less chance of full impact collision between players.
The adjustments were made following a meeting with special teams coaches and members of the league’s Competition Committee at the league’s headquarters in New York earlier this month.
The new rules seem to only be postponing the inevitable, the elimination of kickoffs altogether. Many thought that would be the next step, but the league and its owners decided to change the components of what is and what is not allowed on kickoffs to see if they can keep the tradition of the kickoff intact for now.