This is a position on a football team responsible for catching and punts and kick-offs and running them up the field. This position is occupied by a player with good hands, lots of speed and quickness, and great field vision. This individual must quickly assess where the ball is going, position themselves to catch it, and then make the decisions on where to run with it after the catch. They must do all of this while the ball is in the air and the opposition is running full speed in their direction.
In the National Football League, the returner has the option of calling for a fair catch by waving their hand above their head. This signals the game officials that the returner does not intend to run with the ball after the catch. The player must still make the catch, but once made, the player is not tackled because the play is immediately ruled dead. The ball is marked down at the spot the player caught the ball.