ITP Glossary: 6×4 Kickoff Alignment

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From trips to press man, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

6×4 Kickoff Alignment

The 6X4 kickoff alignment consists of six men on one side of the kicker, overloading coverage to that side, and only four men on the other, weak side. It is most often used as the alignment for onside kick attempts. This alignment differs from a balanced 5X5 alignment, which has a balanced five players to either side of kicker. The direction of the overload is indicated with the call in the pre-kick huddle being 6X4 Left or 6X4 Right.

NFL rules prohibit teams from aligning with more than six players on either side of the ball. Because of this, NFL teams are restricted in their ability to overload coverage to one side of the field in the pre-kick alignment. They can still opt for what is known as a 6X4 formation, in which they place an extra defender on one side of the ball:

6x4

The 6X4 alignment is incredibly rare at the NFL level, though it does see more use in college football, largely due to the wider hashmarks that allow teams to overload coverage more dramatically due to wider placement of the ball:

6X4-college

The most frequent use of the 6X4 alignment in the NFL is in onside kicks, where teams will align six players in the desired direction of the kick to attempt to build a tactical advantage in recovering the ball:

6X4-nfl-onside-kick-watermarked

Chuck Zodda contributed to this entry.

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