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How long are high school soccer games?

As a sport that captivates the globe with its universal appeal, soccer—or football, as it’s known in many parts of the world—holds a special place in the hearts of players, parents, and fans alike. The game is not just about scoring goals; it’s an embodiment of teamwork, discipline, and endurance. This appeal is vividly reflected in the popularity of soccer at the high school level, where the spirit of competition and camaraderie thrives.

When considering high school soccer games, one of the most common inquiries relates to their length. Unlike professional matches, the duration of these games can vary based on several factors.

As someone who has both played in and watched numerous high school matches, I’ve seen firsthand how these factors can extend the time of a game. These matches, while shorter than professional levels, still encapsulate the essence of the sport. The duration of a high school soccer game often compares differently with those at other levels of play, balancing the need for competitive rigor with the practicalities of a school schedule.

Lets get the mystery resolved now and see how long are high school soccer games?

About High School Soccer

In the dynamic world of high school soccer, each game is a showcase of skill and strategy, involving two teams of 11 players each, including a dedicated goalkeeper. The primary aim? To score more goals than the opposing team within a given time. A typical match unfolds in two halves, with each half being a continuous play period.

Unlike some sports where the clock stops frequently, in soccer, the clock keeps running even if the ball goes out of play or a foul is committed. The referee diligently tracks these stoppages, adding the lost time as stoppage time or injury time at the end of each half.

After the first half, a 10-minute halftime break provides much-needed rest and a chance for strategizing. This break also signals the teams to switch ends of the field, adding a layer of complexity to the game.

Reflecting the standards of professional soccer, high school games can be won, lost, or tied, but they typically don’t feature extra time or penalty shootouts in the regular season. These elements are reserved for tournament or playoff games, where determining a winner is crucial.

How Long do High School Soccer Games Last

In exploring the duration of high school soccer games, it’s crucial to understand the unique structure of High School Leagues. These leagues, unlike professional leagues, are not governed by FIFA or the US Soccer Federation. Instead, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, sets the rules that govern these games across the United States. The NFHS allows each state to determine its own rules and game length, introducing a level of variability in how these matches are played.

Typically, a high school soccer game consists of two 40-minute halves, totaling 80 minutes of play. This duration is kept on a running official clock. The referee has the authority to stop the official game clock, displayed on the scoreboard, but unlike in pro matches, they do not add additional time to the game clock unless there is a mistake in clock management. In high school soccer, once the game clock ends, the game is considered over, making each minute on the field count.

During my travels through several states in the Midwest and Southwest USA, I’ve observed that games are consistently played in 40 minute halves. However, there’s an exception for JV games, which are typically played in 35 minute halves. This slight variation ensures that the games are tailored to the skill and endurance levels of younger players.

Duration Of Each Half

In high school soccer games, each half is strategically designed to last 40 minutes, a duration that reflects a balance between competitive play and the safety and endurance of younger players. Unlike professional soccer games with their 45-minute halves, this shorter length is vital in high school settings.

The clock in soccer is continuous, meaning it doesn’t stop for fouls, out-of-play balls, or minor injuries. This uninterrupted flow of the game ensures a dynamic and engaging experience for both players and spectators, while also honoring the physical capabilities of high school athletes.

Duration Of Halftime

The halftime break in a high school soccer game is a crucial juncture, lasting typically 10 minutes. This brief interlude offers players a vital period of rest and presents an opportunity for coaches to discuss tactical strategies and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, it’s the moment for teams to switch ends of the field, adding a strategic twist to the game.

While the length of the overall game may vary slightly across different regions, leagues, or divisions, the halftime duration usually remains consistent. However, in certain situations like a playoff or championship game ending in a tie, there might be two periods of extra time followed by a penalty shootout to determine the winner if still tied.

What about Overtime in High School Soccer?

In high school soccer, the approach to overtime (OT) can vary. For non conference games, it’s often up to the teams to decide before the soccer match begins whether they’ll play OT, which is generally viewed as a friendly gesture. There’s a consensus to agree not to play OT in such matches to avoid confusion.

In contrast, high school conference games have more structured rules. The league typically determines the OT rule at the start of the season or tournament. This decision involves league officials and coaches, discussing whether a tie game will lead to OT, the length of the OT, and how the winner or points are determined.

Sometimes, if a game is tied at the end of regulation, the decision is to go straight into penalties. Other times, it’s decided to add 10 minute halves for overtime, followed by penalties if necessary.

Overall, a standard HS soccer match lasts 80 minutes with a running clock, while Overtime can add another 20 minutes, and Penalties could take up an additional 10 minutes. And of course, the celebration after a hard-fought match might just last forever!

Duration of a professional soccer matches

While discussing high school soccer games, it’s insightful to compare them with professional soccer matches and U18/19 Travel soccer league matches. These professional games are scheduled to play for 90 minutes, divided into 45 minute halves.

An aspect often confusing to viewers is the handling of the game clock. Contrary to what might be displayed on television or the scoreboard, the official time is kept by the referee on their watch, and the time is never stopped on the unofficial game clock.

As per FIFA’s rulebook, particularly Law 7, the duration of the game is composed of two halves and a 15 minute half time period. It’s a simple yet effective approach to maintaining a standard play time.

Factors That Can Affect the Game Duration

Soccer, as a physical sport, comes with various factors that can extend the duration of a game. Unlike other sports, the clock in soccer doesn’t stop; this continuous nature of play contributes significantly to the game’s length.

Injury Time

When a player is injured and play is stopped, the referee takes a note of the lost time. This time is then added at the end of each half to ensure that the full 40 minutes of playing time are completed. This added time is referred to as injury time or stoppage time, and it is crucial in maintaining the fairness and completeness of the match.

Referee Discretion

The referees have the discretion to add time for various reasons during a match. This includes time taken for substitutions, excessive time wasted by a team, or other interruptions. The amount of stoppage time varies from game to game, making each match unique.

Extra Time and Penalty Shootouts

In regular high school soccer games, a tie score at the end of regulation time results in a tie, with teams usually being awarded 1 point each. However, in tournaments or playoff games, where a winner must be decided, extra time is used. This consists of two additional periods of play, and if the score remains tied after extra time, a penalty shootout determines the winner. This can significantly extend the duration of a highschool soccer match.

Delays Due to Unforeseen Circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances, such as severe weather conditions, equipment issues, or other disruptions, can also cause delays in the game. These delays are usually beyond anyone’s control but can extend the length of a high school soccer game.

The Overall Impact

It’s essential to remember that while these factors can extend the overall duration of a game, they don’t change the actual playing time. The aim is always to ensure that 80 minutes of actual soccer is played in a high school game, regardless of these additional time factors.

Playing Soccer for Your High School

Playing soccer for your high school, donning a jersey with your school’s name, in front of family and friends, is an exciting experience. Spanning from August to November, high school soccer offers student-athletes a unique chance to play the game they love and showcase their talents on the soccer field.

On special occasions, these players find themselves competing to be scouted by colleges, although occasionally, college scouts now prefer attending showcases held by clubs. Beyond the competitive aspect, it’s an honor to play for one’s school, creating memories that players will reflect on for years.

The key for student-athletes is to work hard, enjoy the time with teammates, be open to making new friendships, and most importantly, have fun – because the high school soccer journey goes by so fast!

Comparison with Other Levels of Play

The duration of a soccer match can significantly vary depending on the level of play. When we compare high school soccer with other tiers like professional soccer and college soccer, these differences become quite evident.

Professional Soccer

In contrast to high school soccer’s 80-minute length, professional soccer matches typically last 90 minutes. These matches are divided into two halves of 45 minutes each, with a 15-minute halftime break. The longer game duration in professional soccer is attributed to professional players’ heightened endurance and skill level. Additionally, stoppage time, extra time, and penalty shootouts can further extend the overall game duration.

College Soccer

Moving to college soccer games in the United States, we see a similar pattern to professional matches. They typically last 90 minutes, mirroring professional soccer with two halves of 45 minutes and a 15-minute halftime.

Understanding the Variations

The differences in game length across these levels are influenced by various factors, such as player safety, endurance levels, and the competitive structure of the leagues. These distinctions underscore the unique nature of each level of play.

The Broader Context

Gaining an understanding of these variations provides a broader context for appreciating the game of soccer. Whether it’s high school, college, or professional play, each level has its nuances that contribute to the overall beauty and complexity of the sport.


The duration of high school soccer games, typically spanning 80 minutes and broken into two 40-minute halves, is a reflection of the balance between competitive spirit and the physical capabilities of young athletes. While comparing this to the 90-minute structure of both college and professional soccer, it becomes clear that each level of play tailors its game length to suit specific needs, from player safety and endurance levels to the competitive structure of different leagues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does high school soccer play halves or quarters?

High school soccer games are played in halves, not quarters. Each game typically consists of two halves, each lasting 40 minutes, making the total duration of a high school soccer match around 80 minutes.

How long are high school soccer games in Nevada?

High school soccer games in Nevada typically adhere to the standard duration followed across the United States. This means that a regular high school soccer game in Nevada consists of two halves, each lasting 40 minutes, leading to a total game time of 80 minutes.

How long are high school soccer games in Washington State?

In Washington State, high school soccer games generally follow the standard duration that is common across the United States. This means a typical high school soccer game consists of two halves, each lasting 40 minutes, totaling an overall game time of 80 minutes.