Overtime (sports)

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"Extra time" redirects here. For workplace usage, see Extra time (workplace).
Not to be confused with stoppage time in Association football.

Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are same. In most sports, this extra period is only played if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or player per match can advance to the next round. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.

The rules of overtime or extra time vary between sports and even different competitions. Some may employ "sudden death", where the first player or team who scores immediately wins the game. In others, play continues until a specified time has elapsed, and only then is the winner declared. If the contest remains tied after the extra session, depending on the rules, the match may immediately end as a draw, additional periods may be played, or a different tiebreaking procedure such as a penalty shootout may be used instead.

The term "overtime" is primarily used in North America, whereas "extra time" is used in other continents.

Association football[edit]

Knock-out contests (including professional competition)[edit]

In association football knock-out competitions or competition stages, teams play an additional 30 minutes, called extra time, when the deciding leg (or replay of a tie) has not produced a winner by the end of regulation or full-time. Extra time is governed by the rules of the tournament, rather than the laws of the game. It follows a short break where players remain on or around the field of play and comprises two 15-minute periods, with teams changing ends in between. In a one-off tie or deciding replay, level scores nearly always go to extra time. Over two legs, teams only play extra time in the second leg where the aggregate score – then normally followed by an away goals rule – has not produced a winner first. The score in games or ties resorting to extra time are often recorded with the abbreviation a.e.t. (after extra time), usually accompanying the earlier score after regulation time.

Not all knock-out competitions always employ extra time. For example, ties in many competitions are played over two legs (such as the UEFA Champions League or World Cup qualification intercontinental play-offs), one at each competing team's 'home' stadium. Extra time in such competitions is only played at the end of the second leg should the tie still be undecided. Meanwhile ties in the English FA Cup used to be decided by as many replays as necessary until one produces a winner within normal time, rather than have any extra time (and/or shootout). Nowadays replays are limited to just the one, however, with the second going to extra time if teams are still level. Equally, CONMEBOL has historically never used extra time in any of the competitions it directly organises, such as the Copa Libertadores (today, it uses extra time only in the final match of a competition).

Ties that are still without a winner after extra time are usually decided by kicks from the penalty spot, commonly called a penalty shootout. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many international matches tried to reduce this by employing the golden goal (also called "sudden death") or silver goal rules (the game ending if a team has the lead after the first 15-minute period of extra time), but competitions have not retained these.

U.S. high school rules[edit]

High school rules vary depending on the state and conference, but most will have a sudden-death overtime procedure wherein the game ends upon scoring a golden goal, although in some instances the overtime will go until completion with the team in the lead after time expires (i.e., silver goal rules) declared the winner. The overtime period length may vary, but it is commonly 10 minutes long. Depending on the state, if the game is still tied at the end of the first overtime:

American and Canadian football[edit]

Major American professional leagues[edit]

The NFL introduced overtime for any divisional tiebreak games beginning in 1940, and for championship games beginning in 1946. The first postseason game to be played under these rules was the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants (the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played").

In 1974, the NFL adopted sudden death overtime for regular season games. If the score is tied after regulation time has expired, an additional 15-minute period is played. The captains meet with the officials for a coin toss, and then one side kicks off to the other, as at the start of a game. Under the original regular season format used through 2011, the first team to score during the extra period won the game. Additionally, during regular season games, fourth quarter timing rules were in effect throughout the period, including a two-minute warning if necessary. In the regular season, if the overtime period was completed without either side scoring, the game ended in a tie.

Because there cannot be a tie in the playoffs, the teams would switch ends of the field and start multiple 15-minute overtime periods until one side scored, and all clock rules were as if a new game had started. Therefore, if a game was still tied with two minutes to go in double (or quadruple) overtime, there would be a two-minute warning (but not during the first overtime period as in the regular season). If it was still tied at the end of double overtime, the team that lost the overtime coin toss would have the option to kick or receive, or to choose which direction to play; at the end of the fourth overtime, there is a new coin toss, and play continues.[1]

The longest NFL game played to date is 82 minutes, 40 seconds in the 1971–72 NFL playoffs on Christmas Day 1971 (the Chiefs' last-ever game at Municipal Stadium); Miami kicker Garo Yepremian kicked a 37-yard field goal 7:40 into the second overtime. The longest game in all modern American professional football is 93 minutes, 33 seconds in a 1984 United States Football League playoff game, also using the true sudden death rule, in which the Los Angeles Express defeated the Michigan Panthers 27–21.

As a consequence of the 1974 rule changes, the number of tie games dropped dramatically. Only 19 NFL games have ended in a tie since then, and just six since 1990. The most recent was on November 24, 2013 when the Minnesota Vikings tied with the Green Bay Packers 26–all.

Scoreless ties were common in the early years of the NFL, but none has happened since 1943.

In March 2010, the NFL amended its rules for postseason overtime after a vote by the team owners, with the rule being extended into the regular season in March 2012. If the team that receives the kickoff scores a touchdown; or if the defense scores a safety on its first possession, it is declared the winner. If it scores a field goal on its first possession, however, it then kicks off to the opposing team with an opportunity to score; if the score is tied again after that possession, true sudden death rules apply and the next team to score by any method is declared the winner. If both teams are still tied after the OT there will be another overtime period played, and that procedure is repeated until a winner is declared, except for a regular season game, which would simply end in a tie. There were no overtime games in the 2010 posteason, so the first overtime game played after the implementation of this rule came in the wild-card round in 2011. Incidentally, this was also the shortest overtime in NFL history; Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked off and the ball went out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and no time off the clock. Tim Tebow, then with the Denver Broncos, threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play to Demaryius Thomas to give the Broncos the win in only 11 seconds.[2] In 2012 the new rules were extended to the regular season. The first time the rules were enforced occurred on September 9, 2012, the first week of the season, in a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Minnesota's Blair Walsh kicked a 38-yard field goal on the Vikings' first drive. When Jacksonville regained possession, they failed to gain a first down, losing possession and the game on a failed fourth-down conversion. The first overtime where both teams scored occurred on November 18, 2012, in a game between the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, won by the Texans 43–37 after both teams scored field goals to start the overtime period. The first overtime game to end in a tie where both teams scored in overtime occurred on November 24, 2013, when the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings played to a 26-all tie.

The Arena Football League and NFL Europa used a variant in which each team is guaranteed one possession. Whoever is leading after one possession wins the game; if the teams remain tied after one possession, the game goes to sudden death. This procedure was used by the United Football League in its inaugural 2009 season.[3]

The short-lived World Football League, for its inaugural 1974 season (the same year the NFL established sudden death in the regular season), used extra time (one full fifteen-minute quarter, divided into two halves).

The New York Pro Football League, a 1910s-era league that eventually had several of its teams join the NFL, used the replay to settle ties in its playoff tournament. The replay was used in the 1919 tournament to decide the championship between the Buffalo Prospects and the Rochester Jeffersons had played to a tie on Thanksgiving; Buffalo won the replay 20–0 to win the championship.

College, high-school, and Canadian football[edit]

In college (beginning with the 1996 season) and high school football, as well as the Canadian Football League, an overtime procedure is used to determine the winner. This method is sometimes referred to as a "Kansas Playoff," or "Kansas Plan" because of its origins for high school football in that state. A brief summary of the rules:

On two occasions, just two plays were required to determine an overtime winner in an NCAA football game: on 26 September 2002, when Louisville defeated Florida State 26–20, and on 27 September 2003, when Georgia Tech defeated Vanderbilt 24–17.

It is possible for a college game to end after a single play in overtime if the team on defense secures a turnover and returns it for a touchdown: on 9 September 2005, Ohio defeated Pittsburgh 16–10 on an 85-yard interception return by Dion Byrum on the third play of overtime. It is also possible for the defense to get a safety on the first play of overtime (which would also end the game), but this would require the offense to lose 75 yards on the play, which is extremely unlikely, and has never happened in FBS.

As of 2011, the Missouri Tigers have competed in the most overtime college football games, totalling 14.[4]

An alternate overtime method to the Kansas Playoffs occasionally used at the high school level is the California playoff.


The short-lived XFL used a modified Kansas Playoff, where the series would start on the 20-yard line and have four downs to score. However, if the first team to play overtime scored a touchdown in less than four downs, the second team would have to score in just as many plays (for instance, if the first team scored a touchdown on three downs, the second team would only have three downs to score a touchdown). Neither team could kick a field goal until the fourth down (a rule imposed to prevent teams from turning the overtime period into the equivalent of a penalty shootout). Although such a scenario never happened in the league's short life, the XFL rules did not explain what would happen should a turnover occur and the set of four downs end prematurely. Rather than a coin toss, the winner of the opening scramble at the beginning of the game also got to choose to go first or second in overtime.


In basketball, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play multiple five-minute overtime periods. In levels below collegiate/Olympic play, an overtime period is half the length of a standard quarter, i.e., four minutes for high school varsity. 3x3 (originally FIBA 33), a formalized version of the halfcourt three-on-three game, uses an untimed overtime (the former FIBA 33 rules called for two-minute periods).[5] The alternating possession rule is used to start all overtime periods under international rules for full-court basketball,[6] while a jump ball is used under high school and NCAA rules, with the arrow reset based on the results of the jump ball to start each overtime. The National Basketball Association and the WNBA, which uses a quarter-possession rule to start periods after the opening jump, also uses a jump ball.[7][8][9] In 3x3, whose current rules do not allow for a jump ball at any time in the game, the first possession in overtime is based on the result of a pregame coin toss; the winner of the toss can choose to take possession of the ball either at the start of the game or at the start of a potential overtime.[5] The entire overtime period is played; there is no sudden-death provision. The only exception is in 3x3, in which the game ends once either team has scored 2 points in overtime, with baskets made from behind the "three-point" arc worth 2 points and all other successful shots worth 1 point.[5] All counts of personal fouls against players are carried over for the purpose of disqualifying players (except in 3x3, where individual foul counts are not kept, but team foul counts are). If the score remains tied after an overtime period, multiple overtime periods are played.

As many as six overtime periods have been necessary to determine a winner in a NBA game.[10]

In exhibition games (non-competitive play), it is upon the discretion of the coaches and/or organizers if an overtime is to be played, especially if it is a non-tournament game (a one-off event).

Starting in the 2009–10 season, Euroleague Basketball, the organizer of the Euroleague and Eurocup, introduced a new rule for two-legged ties that eliminated overtime unless necessary to break a tie on aggregate. The rule was first used in the 2009–10 Eurocup quarterfinals (which consist of two-legged ties), although no game in that phase of the competition ended in a regulation draw.[11] Euroleague Basketball (company) extended this rule to all two-legged ties in its competitions, including the Euroleague, in 2010–11. One game in the qualifying rounds of that season (the only phase of the Euroleague that uses two-legged ties), specifically the second leg of the third qualifying round tie between Spirou Charleroi and ALBA Berlin, ended in a draw after regulation. No overtime was played in that game because Spirou had won the first leg. Although other competitions use two-legged ties at various stages, the Euroleague Basketball (company) competitions are the only ones known to use overtime only if the aggregate score after the second game is tied.

Ice hockey[edit]

Main article: Overtime (ice hockey)

Ties are common in ice hockey due to the game's low-scoring nature. If the score is tied at the end of regulation play, certain leagues play overtime.

The 5-minute overtime period was introduced for regular season games beginning with the 1983–84 NHL season, but with teams at full strength on the ice.[15] Overtime in the regular season was reduced to four skaters a side starting in the 2000–2001 season.[15] The "shootout" was introduced for the 2005–06 NHL regular season.[15] Previously, ties during the regular season were allowed to stand if not resolved in overtime.

Team handball[edit]

When a tie needs to be broken in team handball, an overtime period of 2x5 minutes is played. If the teams are still tied after that, another overtime period of 2x5 minutes is played. If the teams are still tied after the latter period, there takes place a penalty shootout.

Baseball and softball[edit]

Main article: Extra innings

Baseball and softball are unique among the popular North American team sports in that they do not use a game clock. However, if the regulation number of innings are complete (normally nine in baseball and seven in softball) and the score is even, the game continues for as many extra innings as are needed to determine a winner. Complete innings are played, so if a team scores in the top half of the inning, the other team has the chance to play the bottom half of the inning. The longest professional baseball game ever played, a 1981 minor league baseball game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings required 33 innings and over eight hours to complete. The Red Wings had scored in the top half of the 21st inning, but Pawtucket tied the game in the bottom half, extending the game.

Major League Baseball games normally only end in a tie if the match is called off due to weather conditions. In the early decades of baseball (up to the 1920s), a game could also be called off due to nightfall, but this ceased to be a problem once stadiums began installing lights in the 1930s. Two Major League Baseball All-Star Games have ended in a tie; the second 1961 game was called due to rain with the teams tied 1-1 after the ninth inning, and the 2002 game was called after the eleventh inning after both teams had exhausted their supply of pitchers.

The only exception to this is in Nippon Professional Baseball, where the game cannot go beyond 12 innings in the regular season and 15 innings in the postseason. Ties are allowed to stand in the regular season; postseason ties are resolved in a full replay, extending a series if necessary.

Rugby league[edit]

Rugby league games in some competitions are decided using overtime systems if scores are level at full-time (80 minutes). One overtime system is golden point, where any score (try, penalty goal, or field goal) by a team immediately wins the game. This entails a five-minute period of golden point time, after which the teams switch ends and a second five-minute period begins. Depending on the game's status, a scoreless overtime period ends the game as a draw, otherwise play continues until a winner is found.

Rugby union[edit]

In the knockout stages of rugby competitions, most notably the Rugby World Cup, two extra time periods of 10 minutes periods are played (with an interval of 5 minutes in between) if the game is tied after full-time. If scores are level after 100 minutes then the rules call for 20 minutes of sudden-death extra time to be played. If the sudden-death extra time period results in no scoring a kicking competition is used to determine the winner.

However, no match in the history of the Rugby World Cup has ever gone past 100 minutes into a sudden-death extra time period.

Other sports[edit]

Longest games[edit]

Association football[edit]



American football[edit]

Ice hockey[edit]


Rugby league[edit]

The longest rugby league game at senior level is 104 minutes, during the 1997 Super League Tri-series final between NSW and QLD. Normal game time is 80 minutes, but with scores level a further 20 minutes was played. When the scores remained level after 100 minutes, golden point extra time was invoked, a Noel Goldthorpe field goal decided the game after 104 minutes.[23]


Length is in minutes unless otherwise specified.

SportLength of overtimeLength of entire gamePercent of lengthIn use
Association football309033%Certain matches
American football (NFL)156025%Certain matches
Basketball (NBA)
Untimed[a 1]
All competitive matches
Ice hockey (professional)
(NHL Playoffs)
Certain matches
All Stanley Cup Playoff matches
Team handball106017%Certain matches
Rugby league108013%Certain matches
Rugby union208025%Certain matches
  1. ^ Overtime in 3x3 ends once either team has scored 2 points in overtime, equal to one basket from behind the "three-point" arc or any combination of two regular baskets and free throws.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2011 Official Rules and Case Book of the National Football League".  Rule 16, Section 1, Article 5, Paragraphs (e) and (f)
  2. ^ USA Today- Tim Tebow NFL Overtime Marketing
  3. ^ "The Rules of the United Football League". UFL. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Ubben, David (4 November 2011). "Big 12 did you know: Week 10". ESPN.com. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "3x3 Rules of the Game". FIBA. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  6. ^ FIBA Official Basketball Rules (2010) Rule 4, Section 12.1.1 Retrieved 26 July 2010
  7. ^ Struckhoff, Mary, ed. (2009). 2009–2010 NFHS Basketball Rules. Indianapolis, Indiana: National Federation of High Schools. p. 34.  Rule 4, Section 28, Article 1
  8. ^ 2009–2011 Men's & Women's Basketball Rules Rule 4, Section 42, Article 1. Retrieved 26 July 2010
  9. ^ NBA Official Rules (2009–2010) Rule 6, Section I, a. Retrieved 26 July 2010
  10. ^ This Date in History-January
  11. ^ "Eurocup 2009–10 Competition System". ULEB. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  12. ^ 2009–2010 Official NHL Rulebook Section 10, Rule 84.1 Retrieved 26 July 2010
  13. ^ a b 2009–2010 Official NHL Rulebook Section 10, Rule 84.4 Retrieved 26 July 2010
  14. ^ "Malik's goal lifts Rangers in league's longest shootout". ESPN. 26 November 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c National Hockey League (NHL) Major Rule Changes
  16. ^ 2009–2010 Official NHL Rulebook Section 10, Rule 84.5 Retrieved 26 July 2010
  17. ^ a b "NHL Playoffs – Longest OT games". ESPN. 12 April 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  18. ^ 2010 AFL Grand Final, Collingwood vs St. Kilda Ticket info, extra time confirmed, Retrieved 25 September 2010
  19. ^ "Williamstown Development League premiers". Sportingpulse. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  20. ^ http://www.11freunde.de/artikel/nuernberg-hsv-1922-das-ewige-endspiel
  21. ^ http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1971.html
  22. ^ NFL Record & Fact Book 2010. NFL. July 2010. p. 549. ISBN 978-1-60320-833-8. 
  23. ^ http://news.smh.com.au/sport/wentworthville-down-jets-for-nsw-cup-20081005-4u87.html

In the Fake NBA, overtime periods last 4 and a half minutes.