Monday, July 02, 2007

Game Management: Time/Point Caps, Overtime

This post will go over the workings of the cap rules plus my opinions on "game management" during caps. As a TD, I have received many questions about how the caps work. As a spectator, I have seen many teams struggle with managing the end of games, and as a coach, I have my own ways of negotiating these points in the game. This post will hopefully condense these three points of view into something somewhat useful.


The rules around caps are specifically handled in Section V (Length of Game) in the 11th edition. Here is the section in its entirety:

Length of Game
A) Game to goals: A game is played until one team first reaches or exceeds the game total, with a margin of at least two goals or until a cap is reached.

1) Caps are maximum score limits imposed before or during a game to limit the time required to declare a winner. The game ends when one team’s score first reaches the cap.
a) A point cap is a maximum score limit imposed before the event.
b) A soft time cap is a maximum score limit imposed during a game once a predetermined time of play has elapsed and after the current scoring attempt is completed.
c) A hard time cap is the ending of the game once a predetermined time of play has elapsed and after the current scoring attempt is completed. If the score is tied, play continues until one additional goal is scored.

2) The team with the most goals at the end of the game is the winner.

3) A standard game has a game total of 15, with a point cap of 17.

B) Halftime begins when one team’s score first reaches or exceeds half of the game total, and lasts ten minutes.

C) Overtime begins when the score is tied at one goal less than the game total (e.g., in a game with a game total of 15 goals, overtime begins when the score reaches 14-14).

Comments:
-Nomenclature--Teams need to get the nomenclature straight. Sure, it is confusing that the names of the caps changed with the 11th, but it is time for us to molt and stop referring to the point cap as the soft cap.

-Once the soft time cap is in effect, you play to that score. There is no win by two.

-If a soft time cap or hard time cap occur either during half time or while waiting for the pull, the teams need to play the next point and then put the cap into effect. It is important to understand when a point (scoring attempt) begins and ends(This is defined in Section II.Q).

-Overtime--Overtime seems to be continually confusing. With the 11th, its occurrence is simplified. In a game to 15, overtime is 14-14....even if the game is capped at 15. The other thing is timeouts. In overtime, each team has ONE timeout regardless of how many they had prior to overtime.

That is the mechanics of the cap rules. Here are some thoughts on game management:

-I don't agree with the "no timeouts in the cap" rule as has become all the fashion these days. If the concern is keeping the tournament running on time, caps, specifically the hard time cap, can easily be used to accomplish this purpose. As a coach, I view usage of timeouts is one of the few means of managing the game and coaches shouldn't be punished for keeping timeouts available.

-I really like to have a timeout available for the end of the game. In general, I am not in favor of timeouts during a point, specifically when a player has caught a long pass and is by themselves close to the endzone. This situation happens frequently enough that the offense should know how to handle it and, if not, it can be drilled. I want to use my timeouts, at the conclusion of points, to stop the opponents run or to take a quick breather and re-calibrate. I do think that if the team is driving for the win and the hard cap is not a concern, then taking a timeout close the endzone can be a good call.

-While it may sound unsavory, there have been times, when we have been clinging to a lead and the time between the soft time cap and hard time cap is 15 minutes or less, that using timeouts can be a means of protecting a lead and shortening the clock. The best example I have of this is when Nell called a timeout after we scored just 30 seconds before the soft time cap in our pool play game against MIT in 06 Sectionals. We had a 2 point lead and with the hard cap coming in 10 minutes, and we were able to effectively reduce the time needed to protect our lead.

-I always have my cell phone for keeping track of the exact time. I am aware of the caps well in advance.

-Perhaps I am gun shy about running out of timeouts due to 6TM's 04 semi against CLX. We used both our timeouts early in the second half. The second timeout was used during a point to set up an endzone play. I think a timeout would have been very useful in stopping their big, back breaking run at the end of the game. As anyone can call a timeout, I think a team has to be exacting in communicating when the team has the green light to call a timeout.

-A very good test of maturity and mental toughness occurs when you are behind by 1-2 and the caps are imminent. Playing loose while pressing to get a break or get a quick score is a great challenge and basically puts the mental paradox of sports in a nutshell.

17 comments:

gapoole said...

I vacillate on whether I think it's a good idea to call timeout on the goal line. The frustration is that so many times, players in high school and college seemed to forget the strategy and crowd the endzone's smaller throwing lanes (magnet-ball). Calling a timeout made it much easier to calm everybody down, see all the players on the field, and do something you've practiced. Without calling one, people often rush their throws or fail to see defenders.

But I agree that timeouts should be strategic. I have NOT found them to be really that effective at stopping a run, but teams do at times need a breather or a chance to discuss something--the way to beat this particular zone, or what we need to do to shut down THAT guy, etc.

So basically, I like this aspect of the experimental rules that were played recently at Solstice. Two very-short timeouts for on the field (enough time to say "The play is Black Zebra, the man is J-short, Adam the dump.") and then two off-field 2min timeouts for between points, enough time to discuss strategy or mental toughness. I think this should be included in the 12th edition, along with active travel calls and immediate-referral for Obsevers.

Alex de Frondeville said...

I hate the timeout off the completed huck. It is barely tolerable at the college level, and unforgivable in elite.

George, as for

-Once the soft time cap is in effect, you play to that score. There is no win by two.

That is not 100% correct. Game to 15, cap goes on at 15-14. Game can still be over at 16-14.

Tarr said...

I agree that the completed huck timeout is almost always a waste. If your team understands how to fast break (and they should, of course) then it is easier to score in continuous play than it is to score against a set defense.

That said, I also am not a big fan of the "run-stopping" timeout call. I feel that if you manage your time correctly, 90 seconds should be enough to get ready to play. I think there's a tendency to give credit to the timeout when it "stops" the run, whether it deserves that credit or not.

So, I think timeouts should be used during points. The obvious situations for me are:

1) Multi-turnover point, everyone is tired, stopped disc. Call a timeout, take a breath, get your offense set, play like it's a fresh O-point.

2) I turn to the dump and don't like what I see. Instant TO. I throw it away enough without forcing things.

Geoff said...

"While it may sound unsavory, there have been times, when we have been clinging to a lead and the time between the soft time cap and hard time cap is 15 minutes or less, that using timeouts can be a means of protecting a lead and shortening the clock."

You know what grinds my gears? Teams that do this.

Let me tell you a story. My freshman year we played at Terminus. Last game of the day saturday and we only had a squad of 9 players (one of which went down with an injury). Needless to say we were very very tired. We were playing Georgia in the game that would decide the pool winner. We get off to a hot start and take half 8-3 or something like that. We then start trading and UGA gets a couple breaks. After a UGA break to make it OSU 11 UGA 10 our captain, Biggs, calls a timeout. Great strategy right? Our team of 8 is exhausted and UGA seems to be gaining momentum. The cap is 10 minutes away and i'm pretty sure Terminus had some terrible cap rules that year. What happened next probably shaped me into the ultra-spirited-ultimate-hippy that I am today. We take a one minute break where Biggs tells us all to catch our breath as quickly as possible and get back on the line. He (biggs) informs the observer that we do not wish to use the full amount of time on our time-out and would like to start as soon as possible.
That is playing ultimate.

gcooke said...

Glenn and Adam,

Instead of saying "stop the run"(which I agree is either hopeful or in hindsight...or both), perhaps I should say "take a breath and make some adjustments after they have scored three in a row".

Adam,
I do agree with the multi-turnover call sometimes.

Al,
Thanks for the clarification on that specific point.

Geoff,
Thanks for those comments. I think my comments came across as overly systematic. The specific situation in which I describe happened:

-Not in a social tournament like Terminus
-During a Series event
-In the game which, if we won, would qualify us for the next level of the series
-In a game in which, if we won, we would avoid playing 4 games, to qualify for Regionals, in the rain with a short roster of 9 on Sunday.

However, I think the subtext of your comments is about respect. I think my "unsavory" comment was meant to acknowledge that some folks, sounds like you, might take management of the game, in the specific situation I describe, as disrespectful. I want to be clear that we try to act as respectful as possible. We do not keep our opponents waiting on the line, for example.

I disagree, however, that your example of taking a 60 second timeout instead of a 90 second timeout gives you a) a badge of courage, or b) the right to tell others what "playing Ultimate" is. While the timeout that I describe was beneficial to us in the grand scheme of things, the team discussed, in that very timeout, that we COULD NOT play the clock and that we had to play to win...not play not to lose.

I applaud OSU's desire to play out the game in a challenging situation. I just don't think putting your behavior out there as some kind of standard of how to behave respectfully is the "ultra-spirited-ultimate-hippy" thing to do....and that grinds my gears.

-G

gapoole said...

Al,

For clarfication, I mostly supported the huck-TO in the high school game, which has been the majority of my Ultimate experience to date.

George,

You are far too circumspect. Trouble is, I agree with you. As Tarr describes, I think the first act after a huck should be to hit the dump, no need to call the TO. As for game management, what most stands out in my mind is the girls' SJA invite where I coached this past spring. The girls came from behind to win at cap against NMH, and then lost the 3/4th game at cap after leading throughout. Against NMH, we tried to move quickly and waste no time between points, and barely tied it up before hard cap. Against other teams, we let them dictate the pace when we had a significant lead, trying to give our girls as much rest as possible (we only had 9). Caitlin was especially keen on taking advantage of rest, because she was playing every point. I did feel, however, that it was "unsavory", and I was troubled--I tried to empathize with the other teams, but at the same time my girls were exhausted. I never reached a satisfactory conclusion. Caitlin got pissed at me when I tried to get the girls on the line after half, as she wanted to take the full allotted time.

gcooke said...

Glenn,

Thanks for following up. I agree with your approach after the long pass. My girls have a tendency to ALL run through and try to stack...by that time it is stall 9. So we are working on that.

That is a good example of game management for the discussion. While there is obviously cultural discomfort with how to proceed during the caps, the rules are clear. I think as long you are not deliberately delaying the game beyond what the rules specify....then you are OK.

-G

gcooke said...

Glenn's comments made we want to follow up on a specific point.

I think the time between the soft time cap and either the start of the next round or the hard time cap needs to be adequate so that the game can likely be completed in the time given without taking away timeouts. The UPA has changed this on the SRT. 30 minutes is given to complete the game under the soft time cap. The TD also needs to decide how important the 15 minute break is between the rounds. If the break is deemed crucial, then a hard cap can be used to ensure that this happens.

So, if you have 2 hour rounds and the break is a must-have, then the first round should be:

9AM: start of round
10:15AM: Soft time cap
10:45AM: Hard time cap
11AM: start of round 2

I guess the underlying point is that the old style of 15 minutes between the soft time cap and the hard time cap is an inadequate amount of time, which could lead to the sense that using timeouts is abusing those few minutes.

-G

Jon said...

I think this should be included in the 12th edition, along with active travel calls and immediate-referral for Obsevers.

I think the idea of short and long time-outs is OK, but I hope you're kidding about active travel calls. If we (observers) had actively called travels at college nationals, there would have been at least 50 additional stoppages every game.

I'm also not a fan of immediate referral, because I often find that players can work things out themselves and that increases their mutual respect. However, when I'm observing, I only let players discuss briefly before I make them play a contested call or accept my ruling.

Jackson said...

I hope you're kidding about active travel calls. If we (observers) had actively called travels at college nationals, there would have been at least 50 additional stoppages every game.

I hope you're kidding about kidding. Travel calls are (at least IMO) the hardest call to make accurately while playing.

If there would have been that many stoppages, then either people need to learn to throw without traveling, or the rule needs to be rewritten to align itself with the way the game is played.

We can't have rules that are nearly impossible to accurately call.

Bring on the active travel calls.

parinella said...

Re: overtime. I see that the 11th edition rules have changed the definition of overtime so that 14-14, game to 15, is now considered overtime. I guess I don't have a strong preference, but it's different.

I don't like the concept of using timeouts solely to shorten the game. To me, it's akin to taking extra time on the line between points (if there are no observers, there is no enforceable penalty for taking too long). It's still a game to points, with caps intended to prevent games from running into each other. It'd be like, oh, giving up the right to use one of your pitchers in order to make it an 8 inning game. Most sports have rules against stalling.

Gambler said...

As an extreme example of whether or not to use a time-out to hasten a time cap, I would like to point out that I've seen a game-to-go at Regionals where the team that was up 14-12 during the soft time cap (in a game to 14) specifically chose not to call a time out between points when the hard cap was just minutes away. In talking to the coach afterwards, it was apparent that the decision was made to let the outcome of the game be decided on the field instead of with perceived gamesmanship.

As it turns out, the team that was down scored just seconds before the hard cap horn sounded. They tied the game up during the hard cap point and then scored again to win on universe point. That team then went on to win Nationals that year. A time-out called when the eventual winners were down 14-12 could have easily changed history.

An inconsistency in the way that the game is played is that others may have easily made a different decision in that situation...

Jon said...

I hope you're kidding about kidding. Travel calls are (at least IMO) the hardest call to make accurately while playing.

I think that moving pivot travels (as opposed to changing direction while decelerating) are hard for the marker to call, certainly. Other players can pay attention if they think someone is doing it habitually. Teams at nationals certainly didn't have a hard time calling Beau for travels on plenty of occasions.

If there would have been that many stoppages, then either people need to learn to throw without traveling, or the rule needs to be rewritten to align itself with the way the game is played.

I would love it if people would learn to throw without traveling, but I don't think people really want strict active travel calls.

Changing the rule to align with the way the game is played would be difficult since it's highly variable. I definitely don't want to see a rule that allows some amount of pivot movement or one that relies of subjective standards such as gaining an advantage. What did you have in mind by this?

gcooke said...

I can see, in re-reading my post how, by some definitions, it could be taken that I was advocating stalling. I do think, though, that Gwen's point that, as stalling is not defined in the rules, the varying definitions of stalling is well taken and we have to expect that we far from being on the same page when it comes to this issue.

For the record:
-I do not condone taking a timeout with the intent of spending longer than 90 seconds.
-I do condone taking a 90 second timeout at any point in the game that the rules allow.
-My opinion is that the minimum amount of time between the soft time cap and hard time cap should be 25 minutes.

Now, i do think that the original authors of the rules (or whichever authors came up with overtime) did give some thought to this issue in defining how timeouts work in overtime. I think they just overestimated how often overtime would come into play. I could see applying this approach to timeouts after the soft time cap has sounded(assuming that there is a minimum of 25 minutes before the hrd cap). Once the soft time cap comes into play...each team has one timeout...regardless of how many they had prior to the cap. This would fit within the spirit of the way the rules are written, and would balance things out...thus minimzing the sense that one team has more of an opportunity to stall than the other.

-G

Handy said...

re: traveling:
(Sorry George, I realize this isn't what your post was about but anyway...) Think about basketball, pro vs. college, in pro they are much less likely to call the travel (think about every dunk or driving the lane) than in college, so why isn't there so many more calls in college? Because the players are brought up in a system that values not traveling, because it will be called. Yes, if the rules were implemented in stone right now the game would slow down significantly at first, but if at the high school level people were taught that traveling was going to be called, I think you would find it happening even fewer times than picks in any given game.

-Handy-

Flo said...

Regarding the history of overtime.

The way I have heard it (from Eric/Sholom Simon, if I remember correctly), this is about how it goes:
In a game to 15, you should expect to play a maximum of 28 points (15-13) in a "normal length" game, and plan your game management including the use of time outs accordingly. Once you have played 28 points and are not done (14-14), this is a special situation, and it is called overtime. In a way, a new game with a new number (1) of time outs starts.

Makes a lot of sense to me. Doesn't mean I agree with it (I think you should keep your time outs and maybe get an additional), but this is where the rule is coming from.

Flo.

gcooke said...

Handy,

No problem. I think its an interesting discussion.

Flo,

Thanks for that explanation.

-G