Penalty shootout

The penalty shootout is a method of determining a winner in sports matches that would have otherwise been drawn or tied. The rules for penalty shootouts vary between sports and even different competitions; however, the usual form is similar to penalty shots in that a single player takes one shot on goal from a specified spot, the only defender being the goalkeeper. If the result is still tied, the shootout usually continues on a "goal-for-goal" basis, with the teams taking shots alternately, and the one that scores a goal unmatched by the other team is declared the winner. This may continue until every player has taken a shot, after which players may take extra shots, until the tie is broken, and is also known as "sudden death".


A penalty shootout is normally used only in "no ties allowed" situations (for example, a tournament where the losers must be eliminated) and where other methods such as extra time, sudden death, and/or the away goal rule have failed to determine a winner first. It avoids the delays involved in staging replayed matches in order to produce a tie-break. A common complaint about penalty shootouts is that they only determine the better team in the one, rather narrow, discipline of taking penalty shots, rather than fairly determining the better team in overall play.


Sports in which a penalty shootout may be used include:

Association footballEdit

Penalty shootouts, properly known as "kicks from the penalty mark" and a nickname of "spot kicks", are used as a tie-breaking measure in many knock-out tournaments or cup competitions where matches cannot end in a draw. If scores are level after regular time and extra-time (if used), each team will alternately take penalty kicks against the opposition goalkeeper. If, after five pairs of kicks, an equal number have been scored by each team the shootout proceeds to sudden death.


As a tiebreaker, players from both teams take turns attempting to throw the ball at a wicket, with sudden death initiating after both teams have had five attempts. This method is no longer used in international cricket.

Field hockeyEdit


If a game is tied after regular time and a clear winner is necessary (like in knockout tournaments), it would proceed to two 5-minute periods of overtime with a 1-minute break before each. If the scores are still tied, a second overtime of 2x5 minutes is played. If the game is still tied after 2 overtimes, the game goes into a penalty shootout. Five players per side throw 7-meters-penalties, if still tied, one player per side take a penalty throw until a decision is found, which is the same procedure as in association football.

Ice hockeyEdit

If the score remains tied after an overtime period, the subsequent shootout consists of a set number of players from each team (3 in the NHL and IIHF rules and 5 in most North American minor leagues, and one in some other leagues) taking penalty shots. After these shots, the team with the most goals is awarded the victory. If the score is still tied, additional shots are played until one team scores and the other does not; the scoring team wins and is awarded two points in the standings, while the losing team is awarded one point. In North America, the winning team receives two points regardless of whether the win comes in regulation, overtime or the shootout, while the losing team receives no points for a regulation loss and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. In the NHL, the player scoring the shootout-winning goal is not officially credited with a goal in his personal statistics; thus, a player who scores twice in regulation and once in the shootout is not credited with a hat trick. On December 16, 2014, the Florida Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals 2–1 in the 20th round of a shootout, making it the longest shootout in NHL history.

In many European leagues a team receives three points for a regulation win and two for an overtime or shootout win, with the losing team's points awarded in the same manner as in North America. Regardless of the number of goals scored during the shootout by either team, the final score awards the winning team one more goal than the score at the end of regulation time (or overtime).

In many North American minor leagues, the player that scores the shootout-winning goal is credited with one shot on goal and one goal. The losing goaltender of the shootout is credited with one shot against, one goal against, and an overtime/shootout loss. North American professional hockey does not allow shootouts in post-season play, and instead will play multiple 20-minute sudden-death overtime periods as are needed until a team scores. The official IIHF name of the procedure is game-winning shots (GWS). In some European countries, the post-game penalty shots are unofficially known as "bullets".[1][2]

Rugby unionEdit

In rugby union, five players take kicks on goal from the centre of the 22-metre line. If the scores are level after five players from each team have kicked, the shootout goes to sudden death. This tie-breaking method was used for the first time at a professional level in Leicester Tigers' Heineken Cup semi-final victory over the Cardiff Blues on 3 May 2009; after a 26–26 draw after extra time, Leicester won the shootout 7–6.[3]

Water poloEdit

Following a tie in regulation, 5 players and a goalkeeper are chosen by the coaches of each team. Players shoot from the 5 meter line alternately at either end of the pool in turn until all five have taken a shot. If the score is still tied, the same players shoot alternately until one team misses and the other scores. The scores from the penalty shootout are added to the score instead of being counted as a separate score as in other sports. Colleges have no such shootout procedure; teams play two straight 3-minute periods, and if still tied play multiple 3-minute golden goal periods.

American footballEdit

In the revived XFL, for games that end in a tie after regulation, each team gets up to five one-play possessions to score two-point conversions from the five-yard line, with each team taking alternating turns. Unlike other gridiron football leagues, a coin toss does not determine who has first possession in overtime; instead, the visiting team has first possession and the home team second for each round. The defensive team cannot score in overtime; if the offensive team commits a turnover, the play is ruled dead immediately. If the defensive team commits a penalty, the ball is placed on the one-yard line and the conversion attempt retried; any subsequent defensive penalty results in an automatic score for the offensive team. If the offensive team commits a pre-snap penalty, the ball is respotted pursuant to regular rules; however, a post-snap offensive penalty results in loss of down and no score. If the score remains tied after five rounds, subsequent rounds are played until the tie is broken.[4]

Since the 2021 NCAA Division I FBS football season, if a game reaches triple overtime, teams alternate running two-point plays, instead of starting another drive at the opponent's 25-yard line.[5]

Other usesEdit

Penalty shootouts are also used on a few game shows:

  • The final round of The Weakest Link involves the remaining two contestants having to answer a series of three to five questions each (depending on the version); the player who answered more questions correctly in the previous round has the option to choose who goes first. Whoever has more correct answers at the end of the round is declared the winner; in the event of tie, the round goes to sudden death, where questions continue to be asked to every player until one contestant answers correctly and his or her opponent answers incorrectly.
  • The Rich List uses a penalty shootout tiebreaker where the two teams are asked questions about the same subject until one team answers correctly and the other team answers incorrectly. Whoever gives the last correct answer in the tiebreaker advances to the bonus round.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jeff Z. Klein, "Hockey Night in Europe: Goodbye, Columbus", New York Times, Oct. 25, 2008
  2. ^ V. Lychyk, "English borrowings in recent Soviet Russian", Papers and Studies in Contrastive Linguistics 29 (1994), p. 153.
  3. ^ "Blues 26–26 Leicester (aet)". BBC Sport. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  4. ^ "XFL Rules". XFL. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Targeting protocols approved for football". NCAA. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2020.

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