How many periods in basketball? Have you ever noticed that basketball games are made up of either four periods or two halves, depending on the level of basketball?
This can be confusing, especially if you are new to the game and not familiar with each league. Our goal with this article is to clear up any confusion about how many periods each league plays.
A basketball game typically has two halves of two periods each. Teams get a quick breather in between periods and a longer halftime break after the second period. Learn more about basketball’s periods here.
How Many Minutes Total in a Basketball Game?
The total number of minutes played in a basketball game varies from league to league. There are different rules for high school, college, and the NBA. We’ll dive into the minutes for the NBA, WNBA, NCAA, and high school basketball.
NBA games last 48 minutes, the longest of any basketball league. Both men’s and women’s NCAA games last 40 minutes. WNBA games are also 40 minutes long.
Any games sanctioned by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) are 40 minutes long, including basketball games for The Olympics. The majority of high school basketball games are 32 minutes long but that also depends on the league rules.
How Many Periods are There in a Basketball Game?
NBA games are divided into four separate periods (often called quarters) and each period is exactly 12 minutes long. The players get a quick two and a half to three and a half minute breather after the first and third periods are completed. The length of the break depends on if the game is nationally televised or not.
After the second period ends, players get a halftime break of 15 minutes before the third period begins. Halftime breaks give the players a chance to rest up and get hydrated as the coaches strategize for the second half.
College basketball games are a little bit different from NBA games. In NCAA Men’s Basketball games, there aren’t four periods but simply two halves of basketball. This different format often challenges the players’ endurance level since there aren’t as many stoppages of play to rest off the court.
Each half lasts for twenty minutes and there is a 15-minute break for halftime before the second half starts. A men’s college game is 40 minutes long unless the game is tied and goes to an overtime period.
Women’s college basketball has different rules from men’s college basketball. NCAA Women’s games are made up of four 10-minute quarters. This new rule took effect in the 2015-2016 NCAA Women’s season. Before this change, women’s college basketball played two twenty-minute halves just like the men do.
Halftime for women’s games is also 15 minutes long. Like the men’s games, women’s games are also 40 total minutes long unless overtime is needed.
Does College Basketball Have Four Periods Too?
Only NCAA Women’s basketball games have four periods. All NCAA Men’s basketball games are made up of two halves.
Interestingly enough, NCAA Men’s basketball experimented with four periods during the 1951-52 and 1954-55 seasons. The rule was changed back to two twenty-minute halves shortly after each season.
How About High School Basketball?
Most high school basketball games are 32 minutes long. Four periods of eight minutes each are played. After the second period has ended, a halftime break of 10 to 15 minutes takes place.
How Long is Overtime?
The NBA, WNBA, NCAA Men’s, and NCAA Women’s all have five-minute overtime periods if the game is tied at the end of regulation. High school basketball uses an overtime period that is four minutes long.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Basketball Game?
Have you ever noticed that you can watch a high school game in person a whole lot faster than you can watch an NBA game on TV? A high school game is usually over in only an hour and a half while an NBA game can take up to two and a half hours to watch. Here are some of the reasons for that.
How long does an NBA game last?
Even if you’ve never watched a minute of basketball before, you’ve probably still heard of the NBA.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most popular league in the world and for good reason, as it has produced some of the best talent to grace a basketball court.
An NBA game consists of four quarters each 12 minutes in length for a total of 48 minutes.
However, the entire length of the event is usually between 2 to 2.5 hours due to timeouts, halftimes, and other stoppages of the game.
Unlike many other sports, when a time-out is taken, a foul is committed, or the ball goes out of bounds in the NBA, the game clock is stopped.
An NBA basketball game halftime is 15 minutes long which also increases the actual game time.
Each team is also allotted seven timeouts that are each 1 minute and 15 seconds long.
Most of the time, teams will use all their timeouts within the game length, and in recent years with referees utilizing replay to analyze important game sequences, like fouls or turnovers, more time gets tacked on to the game length.
All of this additional time doesn’t account for the possibility of an overtime period, which we’ll cover in more detail later on.
Read our related article: Lessons from the NBA Play-In Tournament for Sports Leagues
How long is a WNBA game?
While it was founded much later than the NBA, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) stands as the largest women’s basketball league in the world and continues to set the standard for budding women’s leagues.
The WNBA consists of two 20-minute halves for a total of 40 minutes.
Like NBA games, the total game length can extend well beyond 40 minutes because of time-outs, halftime, and other game stoppages.
How long are college basketball games (NCAA)?
Of all the sports that are played at a collegiate level, college basketball probably garners the most popularity.
With the 84th March Madness taking place just weeks ago, people from around the United States gather together every year to create their brackets and watch in anticipation.
Men’s college basketball games are played in two 20-minute halves while women’s games are played in four 10-minute quarters.
Halftimes are 15 minutes for both men’s and women’s games but can sometimes extend to the 20-minute mark if special ceremonies or performances take place.
College basketball timeouts are unique in that they differ depending on whether or not the game is televised to allow for required media and commercial breaks.
How long is a youth basketball game?
The length of youth games can differ between youth leagues and age groups, but according to the USAB Guidelines, games should range from 32 to 40 minutes in total, with either 8-minute quarters or 10-minute quarters.
High school games utilize 10-minute half times while middle school games will have a 5-minute half time.
How long are FIBA basketball games?
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is the governing body of basketball worldwide and works closely with leagues around the world to enforce basketball rules.
FIBA organizes the FIBA World Cup as well as the Olympic basketball tournament which adheres to four 10-minute quarters for a total game time of 40 minutes.
FIBA games do not typically hold many events or activities during timeouts or halftime, which shortens the full length of the event.
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