A strategy on special teams in which a kicker will kick the ball short to attempt to minimize the receiving team's ability to break a long return. The kicking team will sacrifice some yards intentionally to keep the team from returning the ball further. This strategy is usually used when the kicking team is consistently giving up long returns, or when they are worried about a particularly effective returner. A pooch kick is often high and short, giving the coverage team a chance to swarm the person who receives the kick.
A pooch kick is a kicking team's primary defense against a kick return for a touchdown. The team accepts that they will be giving up better field position than normal, but with the intent of eliminating the threat of a big return. Typically, teams will use it at the end of halves when there is little concern of the offense taking advantage of the shorter field position. It can also be used to help a special teams unit that has been giving up long returns consistently.