Tie Breaking Procedures

Published on December 22, 2016


By: John Van de Vaarst – National Clinician

Each state association has the option to utilize the tie breaking procedure that is provided in the NFHS Rules Book or the state association can use another system that is appropriate for the game. The NFHS tie breaking procedure for post season provides several steps to determine a winner.

If the game is tied at the end of regulation, the two teams return to their benches and there is a five minute break. During this time the referee advises the teams as to how the tie breaking procedure will occur. The NFHS Rules Book indicates that there will be two 10-minute overtime periods. There is no sudden victory during these two periods. Both periods must be played in total. Note: This is the NFHS procedure. A state may adopt a sudden victory procedure. A coin toss will determine which team will kick off and what end of the field each team will defend. At the end of the first overtime period there will be a two minute break and the teams will change ends of the field. If the game remains tied the NFHS Rules Book indicates that there will be two five-minute sudden victory overtime periods. There will be another coin toss prior to the sudden victory to again determine who will kick off and which ends of the field will be defended. Prior to the second sudden death overtime there will be a two minute break and the teams will switch ends of the field.

In the event that the game is stilled tied after the above described periods are played, the coaches and captains will meet at the center of the field and the referee will instruct them about the kicks from the penalty line procedures. The referee will choose which end of the field the kicks will occur. When making the decision, the referee should take into consideration the location of the sun, the overall condition of the area around the goals, wind and any other factors that could have an impact on the kicks.

Each coach will select any five players, one may be the goalkeeper, to take the first five kicks. These players may be from anyone who was on or off the field at the end of the overtime periods. The only player who cannot participate is one who has been previously disqualified from the game.

The referee will conduct a coin toss with the captains. The winner of the coin toss may elect to kick first or second. The visiting team will call the coin toss.

The teams will alternate kickers in any order desired from those first five that have been selected. Once the kick is taken, there is no follow-up on the kick. The defending team may change goalkeepers prior to each kick. At the end of the five kicks, whichever team has scored the most goals will be declared the winner.

If the result is an equal number of kicks between the two teams the coach will select five different players to take kicks in a sudden-victory manner. In other words, if one team scores and the other does not, the game is over. If the game remains tied after ten kickers have participated, the first and second set of five, the procedures starts again with the naming of players and sudden-victory kicks.

During all kicks the restrictions placed on the goalkeeper as indicated in Rule 14 apply. The goalkeeper must be on the goal line and may move laterally. The goalkeeper cannot move forward until such time as the kicker plays the ball.

The ball is in play from the time the kicker plays it until the momentum is completed, the ball goes out of bounds, or is retouched by the kicker. The referee must be sure that the play is completed. The ball may hit the crossbar and although it lands in front of the goal, it may have sufficient back spin to enter the goal. Another example is a ball hitting the goal post and continuing along the goal line. The referee must allow play to continue until the ball stops, is saved by the goalkeeper, or enters the goal.

All players participating in the kicks from the penalty spot shall remain in the half-way circle. Other players, coaches, and bench personnel shall remain at an area specified by the state association in their tie breaking procedures. This is normally at the bench area.

The officiating team must be fully knowledgeable of the state association tie breaking procedure. This is for both regular and post season games. If the wrong procedure is utilized the outcome of the game may be changed by the state association and the game may need to be replayed. Reviewing the procedures on a regular basis is a good tip for all officials.

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