Soccer Halftime, Timeouts, and Overtime


When first entering the world of soccer, there were a few questions I had about how the flow of the game occurred. How do timeouts work, how long is halftime, and what about overtime? Well, after plenty of research I’ve come up with the answers.

Soccer has a halftime that can last up to 15 minutes. Soccer is played in two halves that are 45 minutes long each, creating 90 minutes of game time. After the first 45 minutes of game-play, a halftime of up to 15 minutes occurs before the second 45 minutes of game-play.

Stoppage time and extra time can increase the 90 minutes of game-play in some circumstances. Let’s go over game time, halftime, timeouts, and overtime in more detail.

Does Soccer Have A Halftime

Yes, soccer has a 15 minute halftime in between two 45 minute halves. The break in game-play is welcomed by the players who will typically play non-stop for each of the halves. This is the only good time to run to the bathroom or grab snacks during a soccer game.

Soccer is well known for being mostly a non-stop game with plays being made and action on the field consistently throughout the game.

During halftime the players typically take a breather and drink water or energy drinks to replenish lost fluids and prepare for the second half. The coach may give pointers to players discussing things they’ve seen in the first half and how to improve their performance in the second half. Some players may take a quick cool down shower and put on a fresh jersey before the second half begins.

During halftime, players will hydrate, take advice from coaches, and massage sore muscles, while the fans take bathroom breaks and get something to eat.

Here’s a quick video showing an example halftime show you may see at popular soccer matches.

As you can see, the halftime is typically laid back for the fans, and a resting time for the players.

Does Soccer Go Into Overtime

Yes, soccer goes into overtime when the 90 minute game has ended in a tie, sometimes referred to as extra-time. Overtime consists of two 15 minutes periods separated by a 1 minute break. If the score is still tied after overtime, a penalty kick shootout will determine the winner.

In short, they get 30 more minutes of game-play if the game is tied at the end. Then they move to a penalty shootout to determine the winner. The penalty shootouts are always intense for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the thrill of the game, but things can get tense when everything is riding on a single shot at the goal.

There was a time when overtime was settled using the ‘golden goal’ rule. Where the very next team to make a goal during overtime would win the game. It was thought that the golden goal rule would encourage attacking plays and end the game, but instead, the teams would play more cautiously, resulting in no score and a boring display. The golden goal rule is no longer in use.

Here’s a video of the Argentina – Netherlands penalty shootout from the World Cup Semifinal to give you an idea of how intense these situations can be. (Hear how the stands erupt)

Does Soccer Have Timeouts

No, soccer does not have timeouts. Soccer is played on a running clock, meaning there is no break in game-play other than halftime. The referee can call for stoppages however. Time lost from stoppages will be added onto the end of the half.

The only thing that comes close to a timeout in soccer is a stoppage called by a referee. Stoppages can be called due to substitutions, either team wasting time, or an injury occurring. Sometimes referred to as injury time, the referee will make the call as to how much time will be added onto the end of the half to make up for the interruption.

Does Time Ever Stop In Soccer?

No, time does not stop during a soccer game, except for halftime. During the two 45 minutes halves the clock is constantly running. Any disruptions to game-play, known as stoppages, are added to the end of the half at the discretion of the referee.

We already talked about stoppages above and how the referee can use them to dictate game-play time. But I wanted to mention that the game clock doesn’t actually stop because of a stoppage. For example, an injury occurs, the game is delayed for three minutes to remove the injured player, and the referee adds 3 minutes to the end of the half to make up for the lost time.

The game doesn’t stop for injury time, and the amount of time played doesn’t change.

Here’s a quick video explaining stoppages and the effect it has on the game clock.

How Long Is A Professional Game In Soccer

A professional soccer game is 90 minutes long. Split into two halves 45 minutes each, with a 15 minute halftime, and stoppages added onto the end of each half at the discretion of the referee. You can expect to spend around two hours watching a professional soccer game.

If a soccer match goes into overtime, and overtime ends in a tie sending the teams into penalty kicks, the game could last around 2 and a half hours to watch from beginning to end. Typically, soccer games are around a 2 hour watch time though.

Why Is A Soccer Match 90 Minutes?

A soccer match is 90 minutes long because of an early game played in 1866 between London and Sheffield. The two teams agreed to the 90 minute game duration before game-play started, and it has since been accepted by all major professional soccer leagues and has become the world wide standard soccer game length.

Back in those days, there wasn’t FIFA or any other regulating body for soccer matches. The teams would decide the rules they would play by before the match began. To learn more about soccer history, check out my article How Soccer Started, The History Of Soccer.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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