Too many men

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Too many men is a penalty that may be called in various team sports when the team has more players on the field or other playing area than are allowed by the rules. Penalties vary from one sport to the next.

Association Football[edit]

In Association Football, if a team is found to have more than 11 players on the field, the referee must determine which is the extra player, and the player so determined is given a yellow card.

Australian rules football[edit]

In Australian rules football, the primary means for controlling interchanges in most leagues is the head count. At the request of a team captain, the umpire will instruct all players from both teams line to line-up in the centre of the ground, and the umpire will then count the players. If either team is found to have more than eighteen players on the field, the team's entire score to that point of the game is cancelled.

Since 2008, in the top level Australian Football League, the interchange steward monitors player interchanges, and informs the emergency umpire directly if a team has more than eighteen men on the ground due to an interchange error. When an infringement is identified in this manner, a free kick and 50-metre penalty are awarded to the opposing team at the centre of the ground, but the team's score is not cancelled because infringements are usually noticed quickly, minimizing the potential influence on the game.


Professional and collegiate basketball (both men's and women's) limit teams to five players on the court at any one time. A team with more than five in play at once is assessed a technical foul for Too Many Players on the Court. In March 2009, the National Basketball Association rules were changed to allow for the nullification of goals scored with too many players on the court. Under no circumstance can any player or coach be ejected on a technical foul caused by too many players. [1]

Gridiron football[edit]

If a team has more than the allowed number of players on the field during a play (11 in American football, 12 in Canadian), the offending team is penalized five yards for too many men on the field (also called twelve/thirteen men on the field). This is usually the result of an improper substitution. The 2009 Grey Cup game in the CFL was decided on a too-many-men call.


Too many men on the ice is a bench penalty in ice hockey called when a team has more than the legal number of players (six, including the goalie, if not already short handed) on the ice at one time. This term is normally used even in women's ice hockey. The punishment for this penalty is two minutes in the penalty box served by the player chosen by the offending coach from one of his players on the ice at the time of the penalty.

This penalty is most commonly seen during a line change, when a player is coming onto the ice when the player he is replacing plays the puck before leaving the ice (ordinarily, an outgoing player is considered inactive once he's within a short distance of his bench unless he plays the puck).


Similar to hockey, too many men is a minor penalty in lacrosse, and a player from the offending team is sent to the penalty box.