Length of Basketball Games
Depending on the level of basketball you play, the length of the game can vary widely. Whether you're a player, a coach or the official timer at the game, understanding the rules regarding the length of the game will help you be more effective at doing your job.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, all high school basketball games must last at least 32 minutes.
- This game time is divided into four equal quarters lasting eight minutes each, with stoppages in between each quarter
- In between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth quarters, basketball players and coaches remain on the floor during an official timeout; a halftime break of 10 minutes is observed between the second and third quarters
- An increasing number of state high school basketball associations have used shot clocks in recent years, some using 30 seconds and others using 35 second shot clocks
- Clock stoppages occur when the ball goes out of bounds, for substitutions, commercial breaks, free throws and timeouts
- While the range varies, many states use eight or 10-minute quarters for high school basketball games
National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCAA basketball games use two 20-minute halves instead of four quarters of play.
- Each half lasts 20 minutes, making the total length of a basketball game 40 minutes of regulation playing time
- There is a 15-minute halftime break
National Basketball Association
Like high school, the NBA uses quarters.
- The quarters are longer, 12 minutes each, allowing for an overall game time of 48 minutes
- Like college basketball, the halftime period lasts 15 minutes in the NBA
If the score is tied at the end of regulation, all levels of basketball use an overtime period.
- In high school basketball, this is a four or 5-minute overtime period if the quarters are ten minutes long
- In college basketball and the NBA, the overtime period lasts five minutes
- If the score is still tied at the end of overtime, another overtime period is used; this continues until one team wins at the end of an overtime period
Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) & Women's College Basketball
The women's professional basketball league and college basketball games use quarters.
- The amount of time in each WNBA game quarter is 10 minutes, with the first two quarters making up the first half and the last two quarters making up the second half of the basketball match
- If a women's professional basketball game is tied at the end of regulation, a 5-minute overtime period is used
International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
According to international basketball rules, FIBA games use four quarters of ten minutes each.
How long is a typical NBA game
NBA games have a total game length of forty-eight minutes. With frequent game clock stops like fouls, a 15 minute halftime, and time-outs, the typical time for an NBA game is 2.5 hours.
What is the longest NBA game in history?
The longest game in NBA history occurred in a 1951 regular-season game, when the Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals went to a total of six overtimes to bring the total game time to 78 minutes.
- "Basketball Rules Book"; National Federation of State High School Associations; 2010-11
- National Collegiate Athletic Association: Men's and Women's Basketball Rules
James Patterson specializes in health and wellness topics, having written and produced material for the National Institutes of Health, the President's Cancer Panel and an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame company. He is also a former sportswriter with writing experience in basketball, baseball, softball, golf and other popular sports.