Overtime (sports)

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 played only 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.

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.[1]

Association football Edit

Knock-out contests (including professional competition)Edit

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 normal or full-time. 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. Although the Laws of the Game state that extra time is one of the approved methods to decide a winner, competitions are not bound to adopt extra time, and each competition is free to choose any method designated in the Laws of the Game to decide a winner.

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 FIFA World Cup qualification) or even at lower levels (such as the English Football League 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 or shootouts 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 rulesEdit

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 rulesEdit

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:

  • As many additional overtime periods – golden or silver goal rules – may be played as needed to determine a winner.
  • After one or more overtime periods result in the score remaining tied, a shootout procedure may be played. In a shootout, the coaches or team captains select five players to shoot penalty kicks with teams alternating kicks from the penalty mark in an attempt to put the ball into the net. The procedure continues until each team has taken five kicks, or, if one side has scored more successful kicks, the other could not possibly reach with its remaining kicks.
  • If both teams make the same number of successful penalty kicks after all eligible players have taken their first kick, the procedure repeats; the teams are not required to follow the same order of kickers as was used for the first kick, and may replace one or more of the original kickers. The procedure repeats until one side has successfully converted more penalty kicks in a set of five attempts.
  • Depending on the state or conference, the game may go directly to a penalty shoot-out, rather than playing overtime.

American and Canadian footballEdit

National Football LeagueEdit

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 "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, one additional period is played. Until the 2016 season, the period was 15 minutes in all games. Since 2017, it is 10 minutes for exhibition/regular season games. 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.[2]

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 walk-off 37-yard field goal at 7:40 of double 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 26 NFL games have ended in a tie since then. The most recent was on 27 September 2020 when the Cincinnati Bengals & Philadelphia Eagles fought to a 23–all tie, the 13th game to end in a tie since 1990.

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 first overtime, the procedure is repeated (but in true sudden death hereafter) until a winner is declared; in regular-season games, if the score is tied after 10 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.[3]

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–all tie. On 5 February 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 leaguesEdit

The Arena Football League and NFL Europe used a variant in which each team is guaranteed one possession. Whoever is leading after one possession won the game; if the teams remain tied after one possession, the game went to sudden death. This procedure was used by the United Football League in its inaugural 2009 season.[4] This included both games of all semifinals series. All overtime periods thereafter were true sudden death periods.

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. It was not sudden death.

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. The teams had played to a tie on Thanksgiving; Buffalo won the replay 20–0 to win the championship.

College, high school, and Canadian footballEdit

In college (since the 1996 season) and high school football, as well as the Canadian Football League (since the 1986 season) and the short-lived Alliance of American Football, 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.[5] A brief 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 (similar to innings in baseball), starting with first-and-10 from a fixed point on the opponent's side of the field:
    • In college football, since the 2019 season, the first possession of overtime begins at the opponent's 25-yard line, and if necessary, the next three possessions for each team also start at this same point. After four overtime procedures, all possessions thereafter will be a two-point conversion attempt taken from the 3-yard line, the standard starting point for that play under NCAA rules. Before the 2019 season, the opponent's 25 was used as the starting point for all overtime procedures.
    • Under standard high school football rules, the possession begins at the 10-yard line. However, the high school rulebook only recommends the overtime procedure and allows state associations to use their own; the 15-, 20-, and 25-yard lines are variously used. The AAF also used the 10-yard line as its starting point.
    • In the CFL, where a single point can be scored on a punt, the possession begins at the 35-yard line.
  • The play clock runs as normal. There is no game clock, and all play is otherwise untimed.
  • A team's possession ends when it (or the defense) scores, misses a field goal, or turns over the ball (either on downs or by the defense otherwise gaining possession).
  • In high school, college and the CFL, a field goal can be kicked at any time. Thus, if the first team fails to score, the opponent, already usually in field goal range, can end the game by kicking one (in the CFL, as previously noted, one can do the same with a single). In the AAF, no field goals were allowed at any time during the playoff.
  • As usual, a touchdown by the offense is followed by a try for one or two points. In NCAA football, starting with triple overtime, teams must attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown, and from 2019, all overtime procedures beyond the fourth consist of two-point conversion attempts and are scored as such. Since 2010, CFL teams must also attempt the two-point conversion after any touchdown in overtime. The AAF required two-point conversions after any touchdown.
  • In college football, the defense may score a touchdown on a play on which it gains possession by turnover; such a play will satisfy the condition of each team having a possession and will therefore end the game. In high school football, the defense is generally not allowed to score if it gains possession, although the Oregon School Activities Association adopted the college rule experimentally in 2005, and the two main high school governing bodies in Texas, the University Interscholastic League and Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, use NCAA football rules (as did Massachusetts through the 2018 season, after which it adopted standard high school rules). If scoring is not allowed or the turnover play does not end with a score, regardless of the eventual position of the ball at the end of the play, the team assumes offense and will begin their procedure from the specified position on the field.
  • Each team receives one charged time-out per offensive or defensive series (except in the CFL).
  • If the score remains tied at the end of the first overtime period, the procedure is repeated. The team with the second possession in one overtime will have the first possession in the next overtime.
  • In the CFL, there is a limit of two overtime procedures in regular-season games, and if the scores are still level, the game is a tie, but in playoff games, overtime periods are continued until a winner is determined. The AAF did the same, except that regular-season games ended after only one overtime procedure, regardless of the score. (The AAF folded before it ever played any playoff games.)
  • In American college and high school football, the overtime periods are continued until a winner is determined.
  • All points scored in overtime count as if they were scored in regulation. (This is in contrast to the analogous penalty shootout used in other sports, where shootout points are counted separately and only one point is awarded to the winner; however, this procedure is like extra innings in baseball.)

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 (such a scenario is attested in regular play from scrimmage in college football but never in an overtime period).

As of 2016, the Tennessee Volunteers have competed in the most overtime college football games, totalling 19.

The development of this "Kansas System" was implemented in 1970. The original Kansas System had each team start on the 10-yard line. Throughout the state that first year, seventy games went into overtime with one game requiring five overtime periods to determine a winner. After the system was reviewed positively by the majority of state's coaches and administrators, Kansas State High School Activities Association leadership presented the system to the National Federation of State High School Associations, who approved giving state associations the option of using the overtime system for two years. Two years later the overtime system became a permanent option for state associations use.[6]

Another type of overtime system was once used by the California Interscholastic Federation. Known as the "California tiebreaker", it was used in high school football from 1968 through the 1970s and ’80s.[7] The California tiebreaker starts with the ball placed at the 50-yard line, and the teams run four plays each (a coin toss decides who gets to go first), alternating possession at the spot of the ball after every play. If no one manages to score (field goals aren’t allowed), then the team that’s in its opponents’ territory at the conclusion of the eight plays is awarded one point and declared the winner. When the California tiebreaker was finally phased out, it was replaced by the Kansas tiebreaker.


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.

The 2020 revival of the XFL, which folded during its first and only season due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, used a five-round shootout: teams alternated, one play at a time, attempting to score a two-point conversion on a single play from the five-yard line. The defensive team could not score in overtime; if the offensive team committed a turnover, the play would be ruled dead. If the score remained tied after five rounds, subsequent rounds were played until the tie was broken.[8]


In basketball, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play multiple five-minute overtime periods until a winner is decided. 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).[9] The alternating possession rule is used to start all overtime periods under international rules for full-court basketball,[10] 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 (Women's) National Basketball Association, which use a quarter-possession rule to start periods after the opening jump, also use a jump ball.[11][12][13] 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.[9] 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.[9] 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.[14]

In exhibition games (non-competitive play), it is upon the discretion of the coaches and 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.[15] 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, and the two-legged tie. 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.

A rule change in the FIBA rules effective 1 October 2017 (Article D.4.2) permits drawn games at the end of the either leg of the two-legged tie. The definition states, "If the score is tied at the end of the first game, no extra period shall be played."

In The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team single-elimination tournament held each summer in the U.S. with a $2 million winner-take-all prize, no overtime is played since 2018. Games employ the "Elam Ending", named after its creator, Ball State University professor Nick Elam.[16] Upon the first dead ball (time-out, foul, violation) with up to 4 minutes remaining in the fourth period, the game clock is turned off (though the shot clock remains active). A target score is set at the current score of the leading team (or both teams if tied) plus 8 points (originally 7, but changed for the 2019 edition), and the first team to reach or surpass the target wins.[17] The NBA All-Star Game also uses the Elam Ending since 2020, and the 4th period has no game clock, but the shot clock is active. The target score is 24 points more than team leading or both teams tied after three periods. The winner is the first to get there. The winning shot can be a walk-off field goal, trey or free throw.

Ice hockeyEdit

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.

  • NHL (regular season): If a game is tied after regulation time (three 20-minute periods), the teams play in a sudden death five-minute overtime period, with a goaltender and three skaters per side (as opposed to the standard five).[18] If regulation time ended while a power play was in progress, the team with the advantage will start overtime with more than three skaters (almost always four, very rarely five), and maintain its advantage for the duration of the penalty if no one scores. Similarly, if a team commits a penalty in overtime, the player is removed from the ice (or one of the skaters if the penalized player is the goaltender), but can be replaced, while the non-penalized team receives an extra skater for the duration of the penalty. If nobody scores in the overtime period, the teams engage in a "penalty shootout" where three skaters, selected by the head coaches on the teams, go one-on-one against the opposing goaltender, taking the puck at center ice for a "penalty shot."[19] If the shootout remains tied after the initial three rounds, the shootout continues in a sudden-death fashion; no player may participate in a shootout twice unless the entire active roster (excluding the backup goaltender) has been exhausted.[19] The greatest number of shooters in a single shootout was 40 during a game between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. Panthers player Nick Bjugstad gave Florida a 2–1 shootout and game victory on a trick move.
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.[20] Overtime in the regular season was reduced to four skaters a side starting in the 2000-2001 season.[20] The "shootout" was introduced for the 2005–06 NHL regular season.[20] Previously, ties during the regular season were allowed to stand if not resolved in overtime. Starting in the 2015–16 season, overtime was reduced to three skaters a side.
  • NHL (postseason and all tiebreaker games):[21] Following an intermission, multiple full 20-minute periods are played. Teams remain at full strength unless this is affected by penalties during the third period. A goal ends the game in sudden death; if neither team scores, this procedure is repeated after the intermission. The teams change ends after each period. This has made for lengthy games in the history of the NHL playoffs, with some games going as far as five or six overtimes before the deciding goal is scored.[22]
  • NCAA (regular season): Effective with the 2020–21 season, all regular-season men's and women's games that are tied at the end of regulation will use the NHL regular-season overtime procedure (5 minutes, sudden death, three skaters per side unless affected by penalties). Ties at the end of regulation stand in nonconference games; conferences may (but are not required to) use the NHL penalty shootout for league games. The so-called "spin-o-rama" move, in which the shooter completes a 360-degree turn with the puck, is banned in NCAA shootouts as of 2020–21.[23] Previously, the teams played the 5-minute overtime at full strength (unless affected by penalties), and all games tied at the end of regulation ended in a tie.
  • NCAA (in-season tournaments): For tournaments held during the season (such as the Beanpot and Great Lakes Invitational), in which advancement or determination of a champion is necessary, the new regular-season overtime procedure is used, followed by the NHL penalty shootout procedure.[23] Before 2020–21, organizers had the option of either using the postseason overtime procedure or using the regular-season procedure followed by a penalty shootout. Statistics from a shootout are not counted by the NCAA, and a game decided by a shootout is considered a tie for NCAA tournament selection purposes.
  • NCAA (postseason): Same as the NHL postseason overtime procedure above, except that overtimes are played with the teams defending the ends of the ice that they would as if they were starting over, and repeat that pattern every three periods. Games decided in overtime are considered wins or losses rather than ties, regardless of how many overtimes are played.
  • International (round robin): As of the 2007 IIHF World Championship, the IIHF instituted the "three point rule", which not only awarded the winning team three points for a regulation win, but awarded them two points for a win in a 5-minute overtime period or a Game Winning Shot (shootout). Games in IIHF round robins can therefore no longer end in a tie. In the World Cup of Hockey in 2004, the NHL's tiebreaking procedure at the time was followed: there was a five-minute sudden death period at four skaters per side, and if the score remained tied after the overtime period, it stood as a tie. The game between Sweden and Finland ended in a 4–4 tie after 65 minutes. The 2016 World Cup of Hockey had the new NHL tiebreaking procedures: in round-robin play, 5-minute sudden death period with three skaters per side, plus best-of-3-round shootouts and extra rounds if needed.
  • International (medal rounds): Various tiebreaking procedures have been used for international tournaments, with all of them save one (World Cup of Hockey 2004) following a common theme: one period varying in length of sudden-death overtime followed by a shootout of five skaters (since 2010, 3) per side (as opposed to the NHL's three skaters per side originally; it also differs in that if the shootout does not resolve the tie, the same five skaters [now 3] then shoot again). The length of the overtime period has varied between 5, 10, and 20 minutes, and 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 formats have been used. The most recent format used was at the 2010 Olympics (particularly in the gold medal game); there were 20 minutes of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout. In 2006, it was 20 minutes of 5-on-5. All men's games ended in regulation during the medal rounds, while the women's semifinal between the United States and Sweden required a shootout to determine the winner. At the World Cup of Hockey in 2004, the NHL's postseason tiebreaking procedure was used (multiple 20-minute periods of 5-on-5 until a goal is scored). The only overtime game in the playoff round was the semifinal between the Czech Republic and Canada. Canada won 4–3 with a goal at 2:16 of overtime. The 2016 World Cup of Hockey had the same overtime procedure as the 2004 event. Since 2019, the Gold Medal Game for the World Championships & Olympics use multiple 20-minute 3-on-3 periods until one team scores, which wins the game.


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 softballEdit

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 extend the game by tying the score again and win if they take the lead 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 game 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 (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 served as testing grounds for the softball version of the World Baseball Softball Confederation extra inning rule that will automatically place a runner on second base to start an extra inning of play. That rule also is followed by MLB in 2020. In doubleheader games, this rule will apply from the 8th inning per game.[24]

Rugby leagueEdit

Rugby league games in some competitions are decided using overtime systems if scores are level at full-time (80 minutes). One extra time 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 extra time period ends the game as a draw, otherwise play continues until a winner is found.

Rugby unionEdit

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, standard World Rugby rules call for a kicking competition to be used to determine the winner. Domestic leagues may use other tiebreakers; for example, playoff games in the French professional leagues that are level at the end of extra time use a set of tiebreakers before going to a kicking competition, with the first tiebreaker being tries scored.

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

Rugby sevensEdit

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.

Other sportsEdit

  • In Australian rules football, drawn matches during a season remain as draws, with the premiership points being split. Extra time is generally played only in finals matches: in the Australian Football League finals; if the scores are level when regular time has expired, two periods of three minutes (five minutes prior to 2020) each (plus time on) are played. If the scores remain level after the extra time has expired, this procedure is repeated until the winner is determined.[25] In some competitions, there are no extra time periods and play simply continues under sudden death rules until the next score. The 2013 VFL reserves Grand Final was a notable match decided in this manner.[26] A third period under golden point rules was implemented in 2016, but was never used before the AFL abolished it in 2019.
    • Before the 2016 season, the only exception to this rule was the AFL Grand Final, which used a full replay in case of a drawn match, and only used extra time if the score was tied at the end of regular time in the replay. The AFL extended its extra-time procedure to the Grand Final in 2016, thereby abolishing Grand Final replays.[27]
  • In most codes of bowling, ties are allowed to stand, but most organizations have tiebreaker procedures should a winner be necessary (such as in tournament settings).
  • In gaelic football and hurling, two straight ten-minute periods are played each way after a draw. In major Gaelic football and hurling tournaments, a further two straight five-minute periods may be played each way if the scores are still level; then golden goal thereafter, in two straight five-minute periods.
  • In futsal matches, two overtime periods of 5 minutes each are played, with teams changing ends in between. If the teams are still tied after the overtime, the match is decided with a penalty shootout.
  • In water polo, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play the game goes to penalty shootouts. In college play teams play two straight 3-minute periods, and if still tied multiple 3-minute golden goal periods thereafter. Same for high school, but may incorporate both methods.
  • If a game of curling is tied at the end of its prescribed number of rounds (called ends), extra ends are played until there is a winner.
  • Ties are allowed to stand in most forms of cricket, but should a winner be necessary (such as in tournament settings), there are two methods that can be used. In the past, a bowlout was used in which bowlers attempted to hit an unguarded wicket; the International Cricket Council since 2008 has decided to employ a limited extra session called a "Super Over", adopted from Twenty20 cricket, in knockout matches. It has been used several times in Twenty20 International settings but has only been used once in One-Day International: the 2019 Cricket World Cup Final.
  • In netball matches, two straight 7-minute periods of extra time are played, with teams changing ends in between (with no break between periods). If the scores are still tied after the overtime, the match continues uninterrupted. Whoever is up two goals will be the winners. This is known as double overtime should a match end this way. All ANZ Championship matches (2008–2014), ANZ Championship finals (2015–2016), ANZ Premiership, Suncorp Super Netball, Commonwealth Games finals and World Netball Championships finals implement this tiebreaker to ensure a winner.
  • In touch football under the Federation of International Touch structure, finals matches that are drawn at full-time progress into an extra time period known as a "drop-off". During a drop-off, each team reduces their on-field playing strength by one player every two minutes, until teams are down to three players. Both teams must have had possession of the ball before a result can be declared.

Longest gamesEdit

Australian rules footballEdit

  • The longest total playing time in an AFL match is 140:49 (four quarters of 20 minutes playing time plus 60:49 of time on) in Round 3, 2016, between North Melbourne and Melbourne. A total of 41.21 (267) was kicked during the game, which North Melbourne won by five points.[28]
  • The longest total playing time in the three major leagues (AFL/VFL, SANFL, WAFL) is 141:34 (four quarters of 25 minutes playing time plus 41:34 time on) in Round 17, 1975 of the SANFL season between Glenelg and Central District. There was a three-minute delay during the last quarter after a crowd invasion when Glenelg full-forward Fred Phillis kicked his 100th goal for the season, and Glenelg kicked a record 49.23 (317). The score, the final margin of 238 points and the aggregate of 60.36 (396) are all records as of 2018.[29]

American footballEdit

  • Six National Football League playoff games have gone into double overtime, the longest being an AFC divisional playoff game on 25 December 1971. The Miami Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27–24 at 7:40 into double overtime (at 82:40 of total play, the longest game in NFL history). Garo Yepremian kicked a walk-off field goal to win it. The length of the game, coupled with the fact that it was played on Christmas Day, led to a great deal of controversy and the league placed an 18-year moratorium on Christmas games.[30] The most recent 2OT NFL game came in an AFC divisional playoff game on 12 January 2013, with the Baltimore Ravens beating the Denver Broncos 38–35 on a field goal at 1:42 of double overtime. Justin Tucker kicked a walk-off field goal to win it.
  • In the former American Football League, the championship game played on 23 December 1962, the Dallas Texans defeated the Houston Oilers 20–17 on a 25-yard field goal at 2:54 into double overtime. (This game, along with all other AFL games, was incorporated into the NFL record books following the 1970 merger of the two leagues.)
  • The former United States Football League had a triple-overtime playoff game on 30 June 1984, with the Los Angeles Express defeating the Michigan Panthers 27–21 on a walk-off touchdown 3:33 of triple overtime. At 93:33 of total play, this is the longest professional football game ever played in the United States.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I FBS, formerly Division I-A): Five games have gone to septuple overtime.
    • On 3 November 2001, the Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Ole Miss Rebels 58–56; the game had been tied 17–all at end of regulation.
    • On 1 November 2003, Arkansas beat the Kentucky Wildcats 71–63; the score was tied 24–all at end of regulation.
    • On 7 October 2006, North Texas beat FIU 25–22 in a game that had been tied 16-all at end of regulation.
    • On 17 October 2017, Western Michigan beat Buffalo 71–68 in a game that had been tied 31–all at end of regulation.
    • On 24 November 2018, Texas A&M beat LSU 74–72 in a game that had been tied 31–all at end of regulation. This game directly led to the NCAA's 2019 change in overtime rules that calls for all overtime procedures after the fourth to be played (and scored) as two-point conversion attempts, also adopted for Texas high schools because that state's high school governing bodies base their rules on the NCAA set.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I FCS, formerly Division I-AA) – 27 September 1998: Bethune-Cookman University recorded a 63–57 victory over Virginia State University, ending in octuple overtime.
  • High school – 29 October 2010: Jacksonville High School (TX) beat Nacogdoches High School (TX) 84-81 after dodectuple overtime. Nacogdoches could have won in earlier overtime periods, but needed a win by 8 points to keep its postseason hopes alive and so they intentionally forced additional overtime periods rather than win by fewer than 8 points.

Association footballEdit

  • In the past, some football competitions also allowed successive extra times, before the use of penalty shootouts. The decision of the Campeonato Pernambucano de Futebol de 1977, which ended with the victory of Sport on Náutico during the fourth extra time of 15 minutes each, resulting in a game of 158 minutes duration.
  • The 1922 Final for the German Championship between Hamburger SV and 1.FC Nürnberg had to be broken off after 189 minutes at 2-2 because the coming dusk made play impossible. The rematch seven weeks later was also broken off in overtime at a standing of 1-1 due to Nürnberg being unable to field more than seven players (with the rules of the time substitutions were not allowed[31]).
  • The 1982 and 1985 NCAA Division I men's soccer finals both went to the 8th (10-minute) period of extra time before being decided, lasting into the 160th and 167th minutes respectively.[32][33]
  • In Game 1 of the 1971 North American Soccer League playoffs semifinal (best of three series) between the Dallas Tornado and the Rochester Lancers, league scoring champion Carlos Metidieri of Rochester mercifully ended the match in the 6th overtime at the 176th minute, less than four minutes shy of playing two complete games. Seven days later in Game 3, the two teams also played a 4-OT, 148 minute match with Dallas winning this time. Incredibly, only four days after that, Dallas lost Game 1 of the NASL Championship Series in the 3rd OT to Atlanta in the 123rd minute. All totaled, Dallas played 537 minutes of football (3 minutes short of six games) in 13 days' time.[34]





  • A semi-final of the 2014 Ulster Senior Hurling Championship went to 30 minutes of extra time. After Down and Derry finished level (3-23 to 4-20) after the usual 20 minutes (two periods of 10 minutes' duration) of extra time, it was agreed by both teams to play another ten minutes of extra time (two periods of 5 minutes). After this, the game was still tied: 3–28 to 5-22 after 100 minutes' play.[37]

Ice hockeyEdit

  • Olympics — At the 2018 Winter Games, the USA defeated Canada 3–2 in a shootout in the women's final after both teams went the entire 20-minute overtime period scoreless; Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the 6th shootout round. The men's final at the same Olympics also went into overtime; Kirill Kaprizov, playing for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, scored at 9:40 of overtime, resulting in a 4–3 win over Germany. The overtime procedure for gold-medal games is multiple 20-minute 3-on-3 periods until one team scores come 2022.
  • GET-ligaen (premier Norwegian ice hockey league) - 12 March 2017: Storhamar beat Sparta 2–1 in octuple overtime after Joakim Jensen scored the game winner at 17:14 of the 8th overtime period, for a total of 157:14 of overtime and a game length of 217:14.[38]
  • NHL – 23 March 1936: The Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1–0 in sextuple overtime and after a total of 116:30 minutes had been played in overtime.[22]
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I, men's) – 6 March 2015: In a Hockey East men's first round, UMass beat Notre Dame 4–3 in quintuple overtime, after 151:42 minutes of play. Yale University @ Union College & Quinnipiac University @ Union College also extended 5 overtimes.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I, women's) – February 22, 2020: In a New England Women's Hockey Alliance tournament semifinal, Saint Anselm defeated Franklin Pierce 2–1 at 12:36 of quintuple overtime (152:36 overall time).[39]
  • High School (Ohio High School Athletic Association)- The 2014 state championship game between Sylvania Northview (OH) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (OH) ended in a 1–1 tie after 7th (8 minute) overtime period by mutual agreement, mostly due to concerns over player safety.[40] In response, all tournaments since 2015 allow a limit of five overtime periods, with 4-on-4 play starting on the 2nd overtime period, and a 3-player shootout commencing after all periods were played.[41] In terms of number of periods, the 1977 North Dakota state high school hockey championship game between Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River, tied 1-1 after regulation, went eight scoreless five-minute overtime periods. Officials, citing player safety concerns, stopped play after the eighth overtime and declared the teams co-champions.[42]


Rugby leagueEdit

The longest rugby league game at first class 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.[43] At a lower level, the 2015 Group 21 grand final lasted 128 minutes[44]


The Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships was a first round Men's Singles match, in which the American 23rd seed John Isner played French qualifier Nicolas Mahut. In total, the match took 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games. It remains by far the longest match in tennis history, measured both by time and number of games. The final set alone was longer than the previous longest match.[45][circular reference]

The official longest tie-break on record, 50 points, came in the first round of Wimbledon in 1985 when Michael Mortensen and Jan Gunnarson defeated John Frawley and Victor Pecci 6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 7-6 (24). Of note is an even longer tie-break of 70 points, with Benjamin Balleret defeating Guillaume Couillard 7-6 (34), 6–1. The match, held in Plantation, FL in 2013, was only a qualifying match in a Futures event, the lowest level tournament in pro tennis. All matches in qualifying are played without any chair umpire or any lines people. Without any official scorecard, this record is not official.[46]

Since 2019, all 5th-set tiebreakers for men's (3rd-set for women's) are broken using the "super tiebreaker", with the first to reach 10 points winning the match; this began with the Australian Open. If the tiebreaker game deciding the match is tied at 9–all, whoever scores two straight points wins. At Wimbledon, when the deciding set is tied at 12–all, 7 points or two straight points after a 6–all tie wins. The U.S. Open & Olympics employs this at 6–all in deciding set. It would not apply to the French Open.


Length is in minutes unless otherwise specified.

Sport Competition Length in minutes Percent of length Number of extra periods allowed Sudden death? If still tied at the end of the overtime period(s) Applicable to
Overtime period Entire match
Gridiron football NFL regular season 10 60 (48 in NFHS) 17% 1 Modified sudden death The match will end in a tie. All matches
NFL playoffs 15 25% Until a winner is produced Modified sudden death Another overtime period will be played.
NCAA football
NFHS football
Untimed N/A 2 (CFL regular season)
Until a winner is produced (NCAA, CFL playoffs, NFHS)
Each team has one possession Regular-season games in the CFL end in a tie after two overtime procedures (another overtime procedure is played during postseason games). In the NCAA and the NFHS, another overtime procedure is played; games can only end in a tie if inclement weather forces a game stoppage and curfew are in place.
Association football universal 30 90 33% 1 (divided into 2 halves) 1992–2004 (golden goal) The match will proceed to a best-of-5 penalty shootout, then sudden death penalty shootouts if still tied. The golden goal procedure is used in NCAA and NFHS matches only. Decisive matches only
Basketball NBA preseason 5 48 10% Until winner is determined Rarely used Another overtime period will be played. Following the first overtime period, double overtime and thereafter could be sudden death due to time constraints (but only during preseason games and Summer League games). Competitive matches only
NBA regular season/playoffs No
FIBA 3x3 Untimed 10 N/A 1 Yes A tie at the end of overtime is impossible. An overtime in 3x3 will end 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.
NFHS 4 32 13% Until a winner is produced No Another overtime period will be played.
NCAA basketball
FIBA World Cup
5 40 13%
Gaelic games (Gaelic football, hurling, camogie) Senior inter-county Gaelic football and hurling 20 70 29% 1 (divided into 2 halves) No The match is replayed at a later date. In some competitions, a free-taking contest will decide the winner. Knockout competitions only
All other games 20 60 33% 1 (divided into 2 halves) No The match is replayed at a later date. In some competitions, a free-taking contest will decide the winner. Knockout competitions only
Ice hockey North American professional regular season 5 60 8% 1 Yes The match will proceed to a 3-on-3 shootout, then additional sudden-death shootout rounds if still tied. Competitive matches only
Professional playoffs and regular season tiebreaker games 20 60 33% Until a winner is produced Yes Another overtime period will be played. All matches
Team handball universal 10 60 17% 2 (each divided into two halves) No The match will proceed to sudden-death penalty shootouts. Certain matches only
Roller derby WFTDA/MRDA rules 2 60 3% Until a winner is produced No Another overtime jam will be played. All matches
Rugby league Certain leagues 10 80 13% 1 (divided into two halves) No Either the match will end in a draw, or another overtime period will be played. Certain matches only
Rugby sevens universal 5 14[a 1] 36%[a 2] Until a winner is produced Yes Another overtime period will be played. Decisive matches only
Rugby union universal 20 (first)
10 (second)
80 25% (first)
13% (second)
2 (first period divided into two halves) Only during second extra time period If the match remains tied after the first 20 minutes of extra time, 10 minutes of sudden-death extra time are played. If still level, the match will proceed to a kicking competition. Decisive matches only
  1. ^ 20 minutes in the championship match of a competition
  2. ^ 25% of regular time in competition finals

See alsoEdit

  • Tiebreaker
  • Green–white–checker finish, the procedure used in motorsport to add extra laps if a Safety Car situation is in effect when the race has reached the scheduled lap count.
  • Replay (sports), a procedure in some sports to resolve a tied game in which a game is played from the beginning, with the original match discarded.


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