What Is the Onside Kick Rule?

Football’s onside kick rule states that the kicking team can recover a kickoff and retain possession after the ball travels 10 yards from its kicking point. Onside kicks are a way for teams to keep possession after a scoring play.

A failed onside kick, one in which the kick goes out of bounds or the kicking team touches the ball before it has travelled 10 yards, gives the receiving team the possession of the ball. According to Sporting Charts, most onside kicks occur when the kicking team is desperate to score quickly, such as late in a game when they are losing.