Are there any professional sports leagues (CFL, NHL, ...) where it is possible to call a timeout before the game actually starts? Has this ever actually happened?

  • Does the game start on first action, or when the pitch clock/play clock starts?
    – BowlOfRed
    May 18, 2023 at 6:15
  • @BowlOfRed If there is action before the clock starts and the action is part of the game, then I would say that the clock start is NOT the start of the game. May 18, 2023 at 6:33
  • I'm thinking the other way around. The NFL play clock starts before the kickoff. Is the game start when play clock is wound by the referee, or when the kickoff happens? Or the pitch clock starts before the first pitch in an MLB game. Is the start of the game the pitch clock counting down or the pitcher delivering the first pitch?
    – BowlOfRed
    May 18, 2023 at 6:53
  • @BowlOfRed If the clock starts before the first action, then the first action is NOT the start of the game. Perhaps you could define the start of the game as when the play begins OR could begin. You mention the NFL play clock; I assume the kicker could start to approach the ball as soon the clock starts. I would say the kicker’s approach to the ball is part of the game so the instant the kicker strikes the ball is not the start of the game. May 18, 2023 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


Yes. Time-outs may be called (FIVB Rulebook 2021-2024, 15.4.1)

when the ball is out of play and before the whistle for service.

with no further restrictions. Hence they can be called in the window between when the teams have entered the court before the first point and when the first referee blows the whistle for the first serve.

Has this ever been done professionally? Don't know - but we did do it once in one of my club matches; our coach was delayed in traffic and arrived late at the venue. We then took both the timeouts we were entitled to for the first set before the first service so our coach could say what he wanted to say.


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