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Power play (sporting term)


Power play (sporting term)

"Power play" is a sporting term used in many various games.


  • Temporary numerical advantage in players during a team sport 1
    • Ice hockey 1.1
    • Lacrosse 1.2
    • Muggle Quidditch 1.3
    • Analogous concepts not generally referred to as a "power play" 1.4
  • Other uses of "power play" 2
    • Netball 2.1
    • Cricket 2.2
    • Power Snooker 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Temporary numerical advantage in players during a team sport

In several team sports, situations arise where following a rules infraction, one team is penalized by having the number of players on the field of play temporarily reduced. The term power play is commonly applied to the state of advantage the unpenalized team enjoys during this time. Specialized tactics and strategies can apply while a team is on the power play.

The Ferris State Bulldogs on a 5-on-3 power play against the Michigan Wolverines.

Ice hockey

In ice hockey, a team is said to be on a power play when at least one opposing player is serving a penalty, and the team has a numerical advantage on the ice (whenever both teams have the same number of players on the ice, there is no power play). Up to two players per side may serve in the penalty box, giving a team up to a possible 5-on-3 power play. If a goaltender commits a foul, another player who was on the ice at the time of the penalty serves.[1]

There are two types of penalties: minor and major. A power play resulting from a simple minor penalty ends if the team with more players on the ice scores. If the penalty is instead a double minor, a goal scored by the team with advantage ends the first minor penalty, so that 2 goals by the team with more players are needed to end the power play. If a player is given a major penalty (five minute duration), a power play occurs, but if the team on the power play scores, the penalty is not ended, except if the goal is scored in overtime. Major penalties only end when five minutes have elapsed or the game has ended. If a team is still on a power play at the end of a regulation period, or at the end of a playoff overtime period, the power play will continue into the following period. Penalties for misconduct do not result in power plays.[2]

A goal scored by the short-handed team during a power play is called a short-handed goal. If a power play ends without a goal against the shorthanded team, it is said to have killed the penalty. If a team scores on the power play, it is said to have converted the power play (that is, converted the opportunity into a goal).

During a power play, the shorthanded team may launch the puck to the opposite end of the rink, and play will continue; icing is not called.


In lacrosse, a similar type of penalty situation exists, though the duration of the penalty is only 30 seconds for minor infractions and one minute for major ones, as well as 3 minute penalties for certain equipment infractions. Depending on the infraction, the penalty may "release" early if a goal is scored by either team, or may be "non-releasable," meaning the full duration must be served. The term extra man is used more frequently than powerplay. In box lacrosse, a powerplay is very similar to ice hockey. This situation is also often called an "extra man offense" (EMO) or "man up", or "man down", depending on the team penalised.[3]

Muggle Quidditch

In quidditch, a power play arises when a member of the opposing team is given a yellow or red card. A player under penalty of yellow is given one minute within the penalty box or until the other team scores.[4] If a player is granted a red card, another player must be substituted in the original's stead and must wait in the penalty box for two minutes (even if the other team scores). A player's second yellow becomes a red card. If the keeper is penalised, a chaser must be given the keeper headband and becomes the keeper in that player's place for a team can never be missing a keeper.

Analogous concepts not generally referred to as a "power play"

  • In water polo. a shorter version of the ice hockey or lacrosse penalty situation exists as well. It is referred to as "man up" or "man down".
  • In futsal there exists a situation which is essentially a power play. When a player is shown a red card and is thus ejected from the game, the penalized team must play short-handed for two minutes, similar to ice hockey. If a goal is scored, the team returns to full strength.
  • In other forms of indoor soccer, usually played in the United States, there also exists a power play situation similar to ice hockey.
  • In indoor American football, the 1988 proposed World Indoor Football League had intended to establish a perpetual power play, in which the offense would always have one man more on the field than the defense.

Other uses of "power play"


Several variant formats of netball introduce the concept of a power play, a designated quarter where all goals scored by a team are worth twice as normal:

  • In the original fastnet format, when a team uses it in a quarter, all goals scored by that team are worth twice as normal. This means that if a shooter (Goal Shooter or Goal Attack) scores a goal outside the goal circle, the goal is worth 4 goals instead of 2. It is also possible for both teams to use their power play in the same quarter.
  • In the current fast5 format, when a team uses it in a quarter, all goals scored by that team are worth twice as normal. A shooter that scores a goal within 3.5 meters from the goal post scores two points instead of one. Four points (instead of two) if the goal was scored at least 3.5 meters away from the goal post but within the goal circle. If the goal was scored from outside of the goal circle (known as a super goal), six points is scored instead of three. The winner of the coin toss chooses which quarter to have this power play and the other team must choose a different quarter for their power play. This prevents both teams from having their power plays in the same quarter.


A powerplay is a feature introduced into One Day International (ODI) cricket in 1991 concerning fielding restrictions. It is intended to add to the excitement. In a powerplay, restrictions are applied on the fielding team: only 2 or 3 players are allowed outside the 30-yard circle (which depends upon the type of powerplay). There are two powerplays in an ODI cricket innings starting from October 30, 2012.

Power Snooker

In Power Snooker, this arises when a player pots the power ball. This triggers a period of time whereby all points scored are doubled.

See also


  1. ^ ESPN. "NHL Team Special Teams Statistics - 2014-15". National Hockey League. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Hockey for Dummies. "Controlling a Power Play in Hockey". Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Extra-man Offence, or the Power Play". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "IQA Rules" (PDF). United States Quidditch. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
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