Double Punt: Can You Kick the Ball Twice in Football?

By Coach Martin | Football Rules & Penalties

On a typical punt, a punter will catch a snap from the long snapper, drop the ball down to their feet, and then kick the ball deep down the field.

Sometimes, though, the punt doesn't go as planned...

Either the punter shanks the kick and it doesn't go far, or rushing defenders get in the way to prevent a long kick.

Which is why you'll occasionally see punters pick up the football and try to kick it again when their first attempt wasn't all that successful.

Question is... is this a legal play?

Can you kick the ball twice in football?

Below, we'll explain what a "double punt" is and whether you can kick the ball twice in football.

What is a Double Punt?

When a punter kicks the ball twice in his punting attempt, this is called a double punt.

This is a legal play in football, depending on how it occurs.

Rules of the game state that a punter may attempt a second punt if the ball remains behind the line of scrimmage after his first attempt.

This means that if the second kick is occurs from beyond the line of scrimmage, then it will result in a penalty.

So, for example, if the kicker's first punt only travels a few yards in front of him, but remains behind the line of scrimmage, he can pick the ball up and punt it again legally.

The play would just continue on as normal at that point.

How Double Punts Can Occur

There are a few different scenarios in which a double punt may occur. Here are the two main situations:

1. Botched Punt

One way a double punt could happen is on a botched first punt attempt.

This might happen if the ball glazes off the side of the punter's foot or if he isn't able to get full contact with the ball.

(This wouldn't happen to any punter who has read our guide on correct punting technique!)

It might also be due to the pressure the rushing defenders put on the punter that he has to speed up his attempt. 

If this happens, the punter can go track down his first botched attempt, pick it up, and try to punt it deep downfield again before he gets tackled.

2. Blocked Punt

Another way a double punt could occur is if the punter's first attempt gets blocked.

When players from the other team rush the punter, they might be able to get their hands on the football after he kicks it, causing a deflection. 

Again, the punter has the ability after this to run and pick up the ball, and then attempt to punt it deep downfield once again.

He just needs to make sure that he's still behind the line of scrimmage when he attempts the second punt.

If the ball travels beyond the line of scrimmage at any point, then a double punt would be illegal and would result in a penalty.

punter looks to punt the ball during a football game

When Can't Double Punts Occur?

A double punt is only considered legal if no one gains full possession of the football after the first attempt.

If a team does gain possession, then the punter would not be able to legally attempt a second punt.

Here's an example:

The kicker makes his first attempt and the defense manages to block it. A defender picks up the ball and gains full possession. As he's trying to advance, he fumbles the ball and it's loose on the ground.

In this instance, the punter still has the ability to pick up the football and recover it for his team. However, he is not allowed to attempt another punt. 

Doing so would lead to an illegal play, resulting in a penalty.

The reason for this is that possession would have officially changed during the play -- twice in fact.

First, the defense would gain possession after recovering the blocked punt. Then the offense would gain possession again after they recovered the defense's fumble.

Punter looks to complete his double punt attempt during a football game

Penalty for Illegal Double Punts

If a punter attempts an illegal punt, the referee will assess a penalty to the kicking team.

The foul results in a 10-yard penalty from the previous spot and a repeat of the previous down.

In essence, then:

1. The result of the second punt will not count.

2. The line of scrimmage moves back 10 yards from where it was before the play.

3. The kicking team will have to attempt a punt again.

The receiving team could decide to decline the penalty, of course, based on what the result of the play was.


In some situations, a double punt is actually legal.

This means that you can kick the ball twice in football as long as the second attempt is completed from behind the line of scrimmage.

So, even if the punter's first attempt wasn't so successful, he might have a chance to pick the ball back up and try it all again for a second punt attempt.

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