Too many players on the field

6 posts / 0 new
Last post

It's something that I have never seen come up during turf play, but it happened to us thanks to messy subbing. Neither team knew exactly what the rules were so we just removed the extra player and continued on.

I've found something that is a rule in another league as the vul rules are for 7on7.

 If a substitution results in too many players, of either gender, on the field, the result is an automatic turnover and the defensive team takes possession of the disc at the area of the stoppage of play due to the violation. 

Is this the rule we should follow?
What should happen if the offensive team calls it against the defensive team (I have the disc and call it against the other team with +1 player)? Just a stoppage in play for the player to get off?

I think what you did is just fine. If you are already on O - There is a stoppage while you remove the extra player and then continue on.  

Howdy, I'm about a year late on this. ...I feel like I read on the forum a few years back that the turn over was the way to go...but I can't seem to find this post now.

I made this call last night, I have had this happen a few times over the years, and I believe that we went with the automatic turn over in each case.


I am in favour of the turn over rule for the following reasons:

- Even if the infraction does not appear to directly affect the play, it likely has in some way as defensive players are forced into different positions on the field.

- If the infraction is not recognized right away, it is difficult to know how extensively the play was affected and where to send the disc to. For example, without the turnover rule, a team could work the disc up the entire field with 6 on. A call could then be made, with the team near the endzone. If continuation occurs, they've obtained a higher chance to score unfairly.

- If the call is made on an offensive team, and continuation occurs, it can be difficult to place the defensive players fairly. For example, if the offensive team has someone striking deep, a call is then made, does a defensive player catch up like during a pick call? Will this realistically happen?

- Without this there is no incentive for teams to ensure they are subbing appropriately at the line. A turnover would seem like a natural consequence. Teams may err on the side of throwing players on the field, instead of taking the time to ensure proper subbing; and could take advantage of the situation. To me, subbing in 5-on-5 adds a big level of strategy, that is not present during summer play.

If turn-overs are the rule we would of course have to be sure that it wasn't used spitefully against learning players etc. but I think you could say the same about most rules; and I think it would work to make teams take subbing more seriously.


I am clearly pro-turn over...but whatever is decided, I think it would be great to have these sorts of rules clearly outlined on the 5-on-5 vul exceptions webpage.

Thanks for reading.

Well, I don't know of any rules in the general rulebook that would prescribe a turnover in this scenario. It's easy to see how having too many players on the field can affect the play, but the rulebook is generally structured to restore the state of the game to where it likely would have been absent the infraction. It is very difficult to argue that a turnover would have been the natural outcome absent this infraction.

In light of that, we have to be very parsimonious about what league-specific rules we subscribe to. Every time we add a league-specific rule, we had a rule that is likely to be misquoted or misapplied in another league or tournament. Generally, if we don't absolutely need to write an exceptional rule, then we shouldn't, because rule-pollution can be an even bigger problem than the one we hope to fix.

Lastly, note that even the proposed "automatic-turnover" rule only punishes offenses that have overloaded. It doesn't address the equally problematic scenario wherein overloaded defenses are playing the field. If punishment is the only incentive to avoid infractions, then why should overloaded offenses suffer turnovers while overloaded defenses go unpunished? If anything, this rule would add a more lopsided dimension to any kind of strategic subbing gamesmanship you might be afraid of.

I would argue that both cases are fairly and adequately addressed by the traditional "Violation!" call, a stoppage, and the forced exit of one of the offending players.

nep By nep

To add: The preface of the rules of ultimate lay out why things like applying a turnover as a penalty is counter to the general ethos of Ultimate.

"It is assumed that no player will intentionally violate the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent infractions, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner that simulates what most likely would have occurred absent the infraction. In Ultimate, an intentional infraction is considered cheating and a gross offense against the spirit of sportsmanship. Often a player is in a position to gain an advantage by committing an infraction, but that player is morally bound to abide by the rules."

So in the case of too many players, I would say that the outcome should be that, once this is noticed and called, the players and disc should to go back to the position everyone was in at the time that the extra player took the field (which may be several throws back)... and if that isn't 100% possible or certain, then to go back to a position that both teams can agree is the closest to this or most fair.

The "incentive for teams to ensure they are subbing appropriately at the line" -- is the same incentive not to foul someone, not to pick someone, and not to call someone out if they are in -- it's because that that would be against the rules, and counter to the Spirit of the Game.


Those are both some really good points - I think good enough to get me to change my stance from pro turn over to anti turn over.

I guess I've only noticed it happening with teams running offensively. I also agree that this is one of the rules that isn't generally done intentionally (but I believe there are others done on purpose).

I think when you have a league specific style like 5-on-5 we can't shy away from making sure rules are added and clear. 

We had this called against us twice on Monday in 2 separate games - the call resulted in a turn over requested by the other team. It just seems like there is a disconnect between the rules and the knowledge/common practices of teams. I would personally appreciate clarification posted on the rules site (if it hasn't been added) to ensure we're all on the same page. It just would prevent further conflict.

Thanks for your input.

try saying parsimonious 5 times fast!