[haf-tahym, hahf-]
In some team sports such as football (soccer) and rugby, matches are played in two halves. Half-time (also written halftime or half time) is the name given to the interval between the two halves of the match. Typically, after half-time teams swap ends of the field of play, in order to reduce any advantage that may be gained from wind or a slope to the pitch, for example. While it exists mainly to provide competitiors to rest briefly and recover from the play of the first half, half-time also serves a number of other purposes.

One early use of half-time, and it is suggested the origin of the practice, was to allow for two football teams each used to a different set of rules to play half of the game by familiar rules, and half by the opposition rules. This was practised notably between followers of Eton rules football (closer to modern association football) and Rugby rules football (closer to modern rugby ). This use of half-time was unnecessary after the standardisation of football rules in 1863


One benefit of half-time in a field game is to allow teams to swap their positions on the field in order that the effects of the natural conditions such as sunlight and wind direction are experienced fairly by both teams. In some sports this is achieved without the need for half-time, for example in cricket, fielding positions of players are rotated after a set passage of play. In other sports no such provision is necessary, for example in baseball, where playing positions do not change though there is frequent rotation of players in the ordinary course of play.

Half-time for spectators offers the opportunity to visit the John, get some food or drink, or just exercise cramped limbs, without the fear of missing any of the action. A show may be put on for the spectators to keep their attention, most famously in the case of the American football Super Bowl. As many spectators at the ground may be otherwise occupied using stadium facilities it might be inferred that the scale and spectacle of half-time entertainment is more directly related to the size of the potential television audience.

In many sports that are televised, half-time offers the opportunity to advertise, a valuable source of revenue for television companies. In addition, it allows analysis of the game so far by pundits. Controversial incidents or exceptional play may be highlighted at this time. It also allows viewers to catch up with any action that they may have missed.

List of team sports

With half-time

Sport Length of halftime Length of a half
Football (soccer) 15 minutes 45 minutes
Rugby union 40 minutes
Rugby league
Gaelic football
Australian rules football two periods of play (quarters)
Field hockey
American football 12 (professional) or 20 (college) minutes 15 minutes of 2 periods (quarters)
Basketball 10 minutes 10 (FIBA) or 12 (non-FIBA) minutes of 2 periods (quarters)
Netball two periods of play (quarters)

With intervals other than half-time

No half-time or equivalent

(other than to allow movement of players in the natural course of play and/or TV commercials)

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