Overtime (sport)

From Academic Kids

Overtime is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport in order to bring the game to a decision and avoid declaring the contest a tie or draw. The term is most often used in North America.


Association football

Main article: Extra time

In association football (soccer) matches that require a clear winner (such as in elimination matches in the knockout stages of a tournament), if the score is tied at the end of the two standard playing periods (usually 45min), two periods of extra time (usually 15min) may be played. After this, if the score is still tied penalty shootouts may be used to declare who will proceed to the next stage.

American football

In professional American football, if the score is tied after four quarters, 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. The first side to score by any means wins. In the regular season, if one overtime period is played without either side scoring, the game ends in a tie. In the playoffs, if the period ends, the teams switch ends of the field and start an additional overtime period.

In college and high school football, an overtime procedure is used to determine the winner. Here is a summary of the rules:

  • A coin toss determines which side shall attempt to score first, and at which end zone the scores shall be attempted.
  • Each team in turn will receive one possession, starting with first-and-10 from the opponent's 25-yard line (in high school football, it's the 10 yard line). The game clock is not used.
  • A team's possession ends when it scores; fails to gain a first down; or loses the ball by turnover. The defense may score on a play on which it gains possession by turnover. As usual, a touchdown by the offense is followed by a try for one or two points.
  • Each team receives one charged time-out per overtime procedure.
  • If the score remains tied at the end of the overtime procedure, an additional overtime procedure is played. The team with the second possession in one overtime procedure will have the first possession in the next overtime procedure.
  • Starting with the third overtime procedure, a touchdown must be followed by a try for two points.

On two occasions, eight overtime procedures have been required in order to determine the winner of a college football game.


In basketball, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play a five-minute overtime period (in high school, it is 3 minutes). As at the start of the game, this period begins with a jump ball between two opponents. The entire five-minute period is played (there is no sudden-death provision). All counts of personal fouls against players are carried over for the purpose of disqualifying players. If the score remains tied after an overtime period, an additional overtime period is played.

As many as seven overtime periods have been necessary to determine a winner in the National Basketball Association.

Ice Hockey

Main article: Overtime (hockey)

In ice hockey, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, certain leagues play overtime.

  • North American professional (regular season): An additional five-minute period is played. Each team plays with one fewer skater than usual (commonly known as "four on four"). A goal ends the game in sudden death; if neither team scores, the game is declared a tie. Some minor leagues determine a winner using a penalty-shot shootout.
  • North American professional (post-season): Following an intermission, an additional full 20-minute period is played. Teams remain at full strength unless this is affected by penalties. A goal ends the game in sudden death; if neither team scores, another intermission is taken, followed by an additional overtime period. The teams change ends of the ice for each period.

As many as six overtime periods have been necessary to determine a winner in the National Hockey League.


Baseball is unique among the popular North American team sports in that it does not use a game clock. However, if nine innings are complete and the score is even, the game continues for as many extra innings as are needed to determine a winner. The only exception to this is Japanese baseball, where the game ends in a draw if it is tied after 12 innings.


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