Play clock

Play clock

A play clock (also called a delay-of-game timer [For example, [ Electro-Mech] , [ Eversan] , [ Nevco] , and other manufacturers call these devices "delay of game timers" in their literature.] ) is a timer designed to increase the pace (and subsequently, the score) in American football and Canadian football, similar to what a shot clock does in basketball. The offensive team must put the ball in play by either snapping the ball before during a scrimmage down or kicking the ball during a free kick down before the time expires, or else they will be assessed a 5-yard "delay of game" (American football) or "time count violation" (Canadian football as "delay of game" is a different offense) penalty. If a visible clock is not available (or not functioning), game officials on the field will use a stopwatch or other similar device to enforce the rule.

In Canadian football, the offensive team must run a play within 20 seconds of the referee whistling the play in; in amateur American football, teams have 25 seconds from the time the ball is declared ready for play. In the NFL teams have 40 seconds timed from the end of the previous down, or 25 seconds after the ball is declared ready for play after certain administrative stoppages and game delays. In college football, the play clock is 25 seconds after the ball is set, but the clock is not stopped for the clock to be set unless the previous play resulted in a stoppage of the clock. However, a proposal to change the rules is currently before the NCAA, which would use the same intervals as the NFL starting with the 2008 season. [ [] "NCAA Football Rules Committee Proposes Rules to Enhance Student-Athlete Safety and Encourage Consistent Pace of Play"]

Also in the Canadian Football League, a "time count violation" penalty is enforced differently at certain points of the game. If the time count violation occurs in before the three-minute mark of a half, the penalty is five yards and the down is repeated. In the final three minutes, the penalty is a loss of down on first and second down or 10 yards, with the down repeated, on third down. [ [] (Scroll down to "Article 4".)]

In the strategy of clock management, a team can slow the pace of a game by taking the maximum amount of time allotted between plays. A team wishing to do so would wait to snap the ball until there is one second left on the play clock.


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