How Long are High School Soccer Games

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How long are High School Soccer Games? 

High School soccer (or football) games are a joy to watch and participate in. The kids finally getting a chance to represent their school colors on the pitch. The parents so proudly going to the HS soccer match to support their community and child. The time and energy that goes into getting all this to happen is massive. From the coaching, to the administrators, to the grounds personnel, and finally High School referees. 

Because the kids are normally only playing 4 years at the most during high school careers, we end up with some parents that may not know a lot about soccer and the rules surrounding the play time. So the question of how long a High Soccer game really is comes up a ton. Good thing for us, we have a soccer coach on staff to explain everything that goes into determining the length of a High School soccer match. 

First let’s take a look at how the how the United States Youth Soccer Association break down their recommended time for a soccer game on their website. This mostly impacts the Recreational and Competitive/Travel soccer leagues around the country. 

  • Youth Under-6: Should play four 6-minute quarters, with unlimited subs. Stoppage time is not added. 

  • Youth Under-8: Should play four 12-minute quarters, with unlimited subs. Stoppage time is not added. 

  • Youth Under-10: Should play two 25-minute halves, with unlimited subs. Stoppage time rule does impact the game time. 

  • Youth Under-12: Should play two 30-minute halves. Referee does stop the time during injuries. Extra time could consist of two 10-minute halves if needed, however rarely is this ever used in youth soccer leagues. 

  • Youth Under-14: Should play two 35-minute halves. Injury time is added at the end of the match. Extra time could consist of two 10-minute halves if needed, however rarely is this ever used in youth soccer leagues. 

  • Youth Under-16: Should play two 40-minute halves. Injury time is added at the end of the match. Same thing with extra time. 

  • Youth Under-19: Should play two 45-minute halves. Injury time is added at the end of the match. Extra time could consist of two 15-minute halves if needed, however rarely is this ever used in youth soccer leagues. 

How Long are Professional Soccer Matches

Now lets analyze how long professional soccer matches are which are very similar to U18/19 Travel soccer league matches. The professional soccer game is scheduled to play 90 minutes total, with 45 minute halves. The game is stopped by the referee on his own watch. However the time is never stopped on the unofficial game clock. This is the part that confuses many viewers. They think the game clock on the television or scoreboard is the official time. 

But what does FIFA say about the game clock? In their rulebook, Law 7 explains the duration of professional soccer matches and states that every game is composed of two halves of 45 minutes and a 15 minute half time period.. It’s that simple. FIFA feels it should be 90 minutes of play time. 

Extra Time without a Tie:

The official time is held by the referee and his/her assistants. The referee will stop the match clock on his wrist for several reasons but most notably for timeouts and substitutions. This time is generally unknown until close to the end of the match when the referee signals how much more time he has added on to the unofficial game time. This is determined by how many subs and injuries occurred during the game where the referee had to stop the game in order for a substitution to come in or a player to receive medical attention. This rule was added because many soccer players would start to stall, fake injuries, or take a long time making substitutions once they had the lead.

What about Tie games

If the score is tied at the end of the second half, several things could happen depending on the rules of the soccer league or level. For youth teams and their leagues, as mentioned above, the game is called a draw and it’s over. This also happens in some professional friendly matches, league play in pro matches, or group play in tournaments pro and youth,including high school. In some leagues they could go straight to penalty kicks or overtime.

Overtime Soccer Game

Overtime is different from added time in two ways. One way is that the time that will be added is predetermined before the tournament. So this is not a decision by the referee, but instead by the rules committee before the football tournament.The time is normally 15 minute halves for professional matches and 10 minute halves for Youth soccer leagues. A total of either 30 minutes or 20 minutes will be played. There is usually a 5 minute break in between the halves. 

FIFA used to use what was referred to as the Golden Goal, which is no longer in use. The Golden goal rule stated that the first team to score in overtime would win the soccer match. That is no longer in practice and the entire overtime must be played by both teams. 

If there is still no winner after the overtime addition, then the teams are forced to kick penalty kicks.

Penalty Kicks

If a winner is required by the rules, but there is no overtime, then the winner of a tie game is determined by penalty kicks. Each team will get 5 shots on goal, with each team taking an alternate turn. There is a coin toss to see who shoots first. A different player must take each shot. The team with the most points after 5 shots wins. More shots can be added, if needed, however after 5 players have shot a penalty from each team, it becomes sudden death. 

How Long do High School Soccer Games Last

So after learning all of this, you can see where High School Leagues get their rules from. They are not part of FIFA or the US Soccer Federation. So they make up their own rules, but take all these into consideration. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), based in Indianapolis, Indiana, sets the rules that govern high school soccer games in the United States.

However NFHS allows each state to determine its own rules and game length, but for the most part high school soccer games usually consist of two 40-minute halves totaling 80 minutes of play with a running official clock. The referee may stop the official game clock on the scoreboard, but does not add any additional time to the game clock unless there is a mistake by clock management. This is different from pro matches where the game clock is posted, but is not official. Once the game clock ends in High School soccer, the game is over. 

We have visited several states in the Midwest and Southwest USA, and all the games are played in 40 minute halves. Unless it’s a JV game, which usually consists of 35 minute halves. 

What about Overtime in High School Soccer?

The OT rule is determined by the teams if it’s a non conference game before the soccer match begins. You might think this causes confusion, but for the most part, teams agree that they don’t want to play overtime if it’s a non conference game, it’s viewed like a friendly. 

However for high school conference games, the league determines the OT rule before the start of the season or tournament. We usually get  together with league officials and coaches and determine if we’ll have OT after a tie game, how long the OT will be, and how the winner or points are determined. Sometimes we decide that if a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams will go straight into penalties. Other times we may decide before the soccer season that we will add 10 minute halves for overtime and then go into penalties. 

So how long do HS soccer matches last? 80 minutes with running clock. Overtime will be 20 minutes. And Penalties could take up another 10 minutes. And the celebration … may never end…. ! 

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