How Long Is the Halftime in Football?

How Long Is The Halftime In Football Credit: Center Grove High School Bands/Wikimedia Commons

Halftime for an NFL football game lasts for 13 minutes and 30 seconds as of the 2017 season. Halftime for a college or high school football game is 20 minutes long. Halftime for a youth football team may only last around 10 minutes but could go as long as 20 minutes. These times may vary for special events, such as the Super Bowl, which is famous for its elaborate halftime entertainment performances. Like halftimes, the total length of games varies depending on the league.

The Purpose of Halftime 

For people attending a football game, halftime usually means entertainment. During NFL games, celebrities may perform or awards may be handed out. During college and high school games, the marching band often performs. For those watching the games on TV, halftime may include commentary from the broadcasters, a glimpse at scores from other games and commercials. For the players, however, halftime is a period to rest and receive motivation from the head coach. Most coaches head to the locker room to give a speech to help build their players up for the second half.

Total Time for an NFL Football Game

Every regulation NFL game is made up of four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes for a total of one hour on the game clock. Halftime takes place between the second and third quarters. Because the game clock does not run continuously, it can take over three hours to play an NFL game. Penalties, reviews, weather and other factors may slow the game down even more.

Total Time for a College Football Game

Like the NFL, college teams play four 15-minute quarters for a total of one hour of gameplay. The 20-minute halftime comes between the second and third quarters. Also like the NFL, the game clock does not run continuously, so the average college football game takes about three and a half hours to complete. Reasons for this include longer halftimes, stopping the clock for first downs and higher scoring games. 

Total Time for a High School Football Game

High school games are shorter than college and NFL Games. Regulation is four 12-minutes quarters for a total of 48 minutes of game time. Halftime occurs between the second and third quarters and lasts for 10 to 20 minutes. The average game takes about two or two and a half hours. Some states and cities have incorporated their own rules about high school football that may impact the length of the game. Many districts also implement a mercy rule that forces a forfeit if a team is losing by a large margin at halftime.

Total Time for a Youth Football Game

Rules for youth football games vary across the United States, but most play four eight-minute quarters with a 10-minute halftime between the second and third quarters. Players younger than high school age may also take short breaks between the first and second quarters and third and fourth quarters. The total game may take about an hour or an hour and a half.

The Super Bowl

Halftime shows at the Super Bowl have become an annual tradition, so halftime may last up to half an hour during the big game. Some of the longer halftime shows include Justin Timberlake who performed for almost 14 minutes in 2018 and Lady Gaga who performed for 13.5 minutes in 2017. In 2019, Maroon 5 performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show for just under 14 minutes. 

Overtime 

If a football game is tied at the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams may play for an extended amount of time known as overtime. In the NFL, the teams take part in a coin toss at the start of overtime, and the winner of the toss gets possession of the ball first. During the regular season, overtime lasts for 10 minutes of gameplay or until one team scores. If no one scores after the 10-minute period, the game ends in a tie.