This year the NFHS changed it’s rule concerning onside kicks. NFHS sets the rules in 48 of our 50 states- excluding Texas and Massachusetts. Youth football leagues in those 48 states abide by NFHS with a few minor exceptions.
NFHS Rule 9-3-8 now prohibits members of the kicking team from initiating contact (blocking) against members of the receiving team until the ball has broken the plane of the receiving team’s restraining line, or until the kicking team is eligible to recover the free kick.
That means you can’t block a receiving teams players out of the way to recover the ball until the ball has crossed their receiving line. In our league, that would be the 50 yard line. So you won’t see any more “mob” style onside kick plays anymore where the kicking team tries to beat the ball to the receiver and block him out of the way so one of his fellow kicking team players can recover the ball.
The onside kick has become the mainstay for most of the better youth football programs out there. In the last 3 AYF and Pop Warner National Championships I’ve attended, 85-90% of the teams onside kicked on every kickoff when the games were still in doubt. Kicking deep to the other teams best player in space, just isn’t appealing to most youth coaches when you have a chance to recover the ball. But teams using mob style kicking strategies are going to have to make some adjustments to stay within the rules.
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