In American football and Canadian football, a quick kick is any punt made under conditions such that the opposing team "should not" expect a punt. Typically this has been a kick from scrimmage from a formation that is, or resembles, one usually used other than for punting, or at least not resembling the one usually used for punting. Typically it will also be on some down before last down (last down being 3rd in Canadian, and, since 1912, 4th in American football), unless done from a formation usually used for place kicking; if opponents begin to anticipate quick kick on next-to-last down, then it may be done on a previous down.
The purpose of a quick kick is the same as that for all punting, but with additional hope of:
The disadvantages (required for the punt to be unexpected) are one or more of these:
Factors that make a quick kick more likely:
If a team uses the quick kick a lot, surprise can be maintained only by their also having a fake quick kick play. One type of such play is the equivalent of the Statue of Liberty play for the forward pass: the ostensible punter holds the ball out as if to drop it, then hands it to a teammate stepping behind or in front of him or her.
The quick kick is usually done from closer to the line of scrimmage than an ordinary punt. For approximately the decade of the 1910s in American football, the rules discouraged the quick kick by requiring that the ball be kicked from at least 5 yards behind one's line of scrimmage. Because of the closeness of the opposing team, the approach the kicker uses before dropping the ball for a quick kick is often designed to decrease the distance forward that the punter will step, and/or to reduce the time of the approach. One such technique is the "rocker step", in which the punter first steps backward and then rocks forward. Another is to take a somewhat sideways approach, leaning and kicking somewhat "across the body"; for a right-footed kicker this means approaching toward the right while leaning left.
A quick kick made relatively close to the opposing goal line is often executed by a technique called a "pooch punt", which is a more controlled kick. A typical last down punt or a punt taken as a free kick is done with the emphasis mostly on maximizing distance.