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 the same. In some 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 players can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.
- Knock out contests (including professional competition)
- U.S. collegiate rules
- U.S. high school rules
- National Football League
- Other professional football leagues
- College, high school, and Canadian football
- Ice hockey
- Baseball and softball
- Rugby league
- Rugby union
- Rugby sevens
- Other sports
- Australian rules football
- American football
- Association football
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 terms "overtime" and "in overtime" (abbreviated "OT" or "IOT") are primarily used in North America, whereas the terms "extra time" and "after extra time" (abbreviated "a.e.t.") are usually used in other continents. However, in basketball, the terms "overtime" and "in overtime" are used worldwide.
Knock-out contests (including professional competition)
In association football knock-out competitions or competition stages, teams play an extra 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 straight 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. In games played over two legs (such as the UEFA Champions League or World Cup qualification intercontinental play-offs), 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. Ties in the 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), though nowadays replays are limited to just the one, 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). 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.
Ties that are still without a winner after extra time are usually broken 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. collegiate rules
In NCAA college soccer rules, all matches that remain tied after ninety minutes have an overtime period. A sudden death golden goal rule is applied, with the game ending as soon as an overtime goal is scored. If neither team scores in the two ten-minute halves, the match ends in a draw unless it is a conference or national championship tournament match. A playoff game tied after two overtime periods then moves to a penalty kick shoot-out with the winner determined by the teams alternating kicks from the penalty mark.
U.S. high school rules
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:
National Football League
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 and preseason 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, whoever scored first 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 is completed without either side scoring, the game ends 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 game had started over. Therefore, if a game was still tied with two minutes to go in the second (or fourth) 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 the second 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.
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 at 7:40 of 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 22 NFL games have ended in a tie since then, and just nine since 1990. The most recent was on 30 October 2016 when the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals fought to a 27-all tie.
Scoreless ties were common in the early years of the NFL, but none has happened since 1943, in part due to innovations added by Hugh "Shorty" Ray to encourage more scoring.
In March 2010, NFL owners voted to amend overtime rules for postseason games; the changes were extended to the regular season in 2012. The changes preserved sudden death with one notable exception: if the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a field goal, the team that initially kicked off gets one possession to tie or win the game; any other score on the opening possession ends the game immediately. In postseason games, 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; in regular-season games, if the score is tied after 15 minutes, the game ends. No 2010 postseason game went into overtime, 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. The first time the "first possession field goal" rule was enforced occurred on 9 September 2012, the first week of the season, in a game between the Minnesota Vikings and 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 in which both teams scored occurred on 18 November 2012, in a game between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars; the Texans won 43–37. The first overtime game that ended in a tie after both teams scored in overtime occurred on 24 November 2013, when the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers played to a 26–26 tie. On February 5, 2017, a Super Bowl went into overtime for the first time ever, with the New England Patriots defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 34–28; the Patriots scored a touchdown on their initial possession, so the Falcons never received the ball in overtime.
Other professional football leagues
The Arena Football League and NFL Europe 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.
The short-lived World Football League, for its inaugural 1974 season (the same year the NFL established sudden death in the regular season), used a fifteen-minute quarter of extra time, 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
In college (since the 1996 season) and high school football, as well as the Canadian Football League (since the 1986 season), 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 three 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, on 27 September 2003, when Georgia Tech defeated Vanderbilt 24–17, and on 15 October 2016, when the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Wisconsin Badgers 30-23.
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.
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). The alternating possession rule is used to start all overtime periods under international rules for full-court basketball, 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 use a quarter-possession rule to start periods after the opening jump, also use a jump ball. 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. 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. 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, this procedure is repeated.
As many as six overtime periods have been necessary to determine a winner in an NBA game.
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. Euroleague Basketball 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 FIBA Europe competitions are the only ones known to use overtime only if the aggregate score after the second game is tied.
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.
When a tie needs to be broken in handball, two straight 5-minute overtimes are played. If the teams are still tied after that, this overtime procedure is repeated once more; a further draw will result in a penalty shootout.
Baseball and softball
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, extra innings are played 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; they will win if they outscore them before their third out. 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 end in a tie only 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 exceptions to this are in Nippon Professional Baseball, Chinese Professional Baseball League, and the Korea Baseball Organization, where the game cannot go beyond 12 innings (15 in Japan Series, first 7 games only; no such limit thereafter). During the 2011 season the NPB had a game time limit of 3½ hours during the regular season; ties are allowed to stand in the regular season and postseason ties are resolved in a full replay, extending a series if necessary. Extra innings are not played in KBO doubleheaders' first game.
In 2017, the Arizona League and Gulf Coast League will serve as testing grounds for a new rule that will automatically place runners on second base during extra inning play.
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.
In the knockout stages of rugby competitions, most notably the Rugby World Cup, two full-length extra time periods of 10 minutes each 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, the rules call for a period of sudden-death extra time to be played. Originally, this sudden-death period was 20 minutes, but is now 10 minutes. 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 gone past 100 minutes into a sudden-death extra time period.
In the sevens variant of rugby union, extra time is used only in knockout stages of competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens. Extra time begins one minute after the end of full-time, and is played in multiple 5-minute periods. Unlike the 15-man game, extra time in sevens is true sudden-death, with the first score by either team winning the match. If neither team has scored at the end of a period, the teams change ends. This procedure is repeated until one team scores.
Australian rules football
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.
Length is in minutes unless otherwise specified.