Ask An Orange Adult #4: Calling “Time-Out”

by | April 8, 2011, 4:00am 0

Many players do not have a solid understanding of the rules regarding team time-outs.  Injury time-outs (Rule VI.C) and technical time-outs (Rule VI.D) are beyond the scope of this article.  This article attempts to clarify some common misconceptions about team time-outs, and to educate players on some common strategic mistakes.

Myth #1: You must have a pivot to call a team time-out.

Truth: Any thrower can call a team time-out, once he or she has survived ground contact (no airborne time-out calls to try to save possession).  Rule VI.B.4.  A pivot is not required.

Myth #2: The disc must be in-play for the thrower to be able to call a team time-out.

Truth: A thrower that has survived ground contact can call a team time-out at any time, whether the disc is dead, live, or in-play.  Rule VI.B.4.

Florida's Alex Hill taps the disc in after a critical time out in the Easterns 2011 final.

Myth #3: No time-outs in the cap, one time-out per half and a floater, etc.

Truth: Some tournaments have their own non-standard event-specific rules regarding time-outs.  The rules for a standard game allow for two team time-outs per half, and caps have no effect on time-outs.  Rule VI.B.  Know the standard rules, but check for any tournament-specific modifications to the standard rules.

Little-known Rule: Overtime

Overtime occurs when the score is tied at one less than the game total (14-14 in a game to 15, 12-12 in a game to 13, etc.).  Rule V.C.  The game total is determined at the start of the game, and it is not affected by caps.  In a “game to 15,” the game total is 15, even if the game gets capped earlier than that.  In overtime, each team gets exactly one time-out, regardless of how many time-outs they have used up to that point.  Rule VI.B.1.

Strategy Tip and Best Practice: Calling “Time-out” on a Dead Disc

As a thrower, if you are going to call a time-out after a stoppage of play, you should ALWAYS call the time-out before checking the disc in.

You are allowed to call a time-out on a dead disc.  You do not need to check it in first.  There are a lot of reasons to do it this way, even though it is also perfectly legal to call
a time-out on a live or in-play disc.  Here are three reasons:

1) Save time on the stall count.  As soon as you check the disc in, the marker will blurt out “stallingX,” which costs you a second on the stall count.  Call the time-out before
the check to save a second on the stall count.

2) Avoid a possible turnover.  A dead disc is not subject to turnover.  Rule II.R.3.  If the disc is dead and you call a time-out when you don’t have any, it is not a turnover.  If you check the disc in first and then call the time-out, it will be a turnover.  Note: a ground-touch situation typically involves a LIVE disc, which is subject to turnover.  Rule II.R.2.

3) Save the time it takes to get everyone positioned and ready and then to check the disc into play.  If you know you’re going to call a time-out anyway, just agree on the count with the marker and call it.  There is no reason to make everyone get set up, and check the disc in, just so you can immediately call a time-out.


Hopefully this article helps readers avoid confusion and arguments in the future.  By calling time-outs promptly on dead discs and live discs, players can also avoid unnecessary delay.  Of course, the biggest time-out-related way to speed up the game is to limit time-outs to 70 seconds.  Whether Observers are present or not, players and teams are always free to hold themselves accountable, and implement best practices that help keep the game moving.

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Although Colin is a member of the USA Ultimate Board of Directors and the Standing Rules Committee, this article reflects only his personal views and does not represent the views of USA Ultimate, the Board, or the SRC.  For official Rules Resources, please visit the USA Ultimate Rules Resources page.


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