How Long is a Lacrosse Game: The Ultimate Explanation

Understanding the duration of a lacrosse game is crucial for players, coaches, and fans alike. Lacrosse matches are played over a set period, typically divided into quarters. The fundamental structure of these games is consistent across different levels, from high school to professional leagues. However, the total time can vary based on the play level. For example, in college lacrosse, game time is usually 60 minutes, with each game comprising four 15-minute quarters, while professional games slightly differ with 48-minute regulation times.

The flow of a lacrosse game includes breaks and timeouts, which contribute to the overall duration. After the first and third quarters, you can expect short intervals, commonly two minutes, and a longer halftime break, often around 10 minutes. Timeouts can also add a few more minutes to the game clock. If a game is tied at the end of regulation, it proceeds to an overtime period, further extending the length of the match. It’s essential for you to evaluate the event’s planned duration, factoring in these stoppages and potential overtime, to fully appreciate the commitment required for a complete lacrosse game viewing or participation experience.

How Long is a Lacrosse Game?

When you are planning to watch or learn how to play or participate in a lacrosse game, it’s essential to understand how long the event might last. The duration can vary significantly depending on the league and level of play.

Duration of a Lacrosse Game

High School and College Lacrosse:

  • Each game consists of four quarters.
  • Quarters are typically 12 minutes each.

Professional Lacrosse:

  • Expect four 15-minute quarters.

Breaks add to the total time:

  • 2-minute breaks after the first and third quarters.
  • A longer, 10-minute halftime break after the second quarter.

In Women’s Lacrosse, games usually run closer to 90 minutes in total, accounting for the action as well as all intermissions. Men’s games often extend to about 2 hours due to different pacing and rules.

Your overall time at the game will also be influenced by stoppages for timeouts and any potential overtime periods needed if the score is tied at the end of regulation play. Here’s a quick breakdown for easy reference:

1st12-15 min2 min
2nd12-15 min10 min (halftime)
3rd12-15 min2 min
4th12-15 minN/A

Remember, the times indicated are an average and can be affected by individual league rules and the flow of the game. Always check with your specific league for the most accurate duration expectations.

Game Structure

In a lacrosse game, the structure is standardized into distinct segments to organize the flow and timing of the match. These include quarters, halftime, and a provision for overtime in the event of a tie.


Your typical lacrosse game is divided into four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes. The playtime may vary depending on the age group and league, with younger players often having shorter quarters. Here is how the quarters typically break down:

  • High School: 4 quarters of 12 minutes each
  • College: 4 quarters of 15 minutes each
  • Professional: 4 quarters; Major League Lacrosse (MLL) uses 15-minute quarters, while the National Lacrosse League (NLL) has 15-minute quarters.
Duration of Lacrosse Games


Between the second and third quarters, you will experience a halftime break to allow players to rest and coaches to discuss strategy. This break typically lasts 10 minutes, but can vary by league regulations.


In the event of a tie at the end of regulation time, an overtime period is played to determine the winner. Overtime can take the following forms depending on the level of play:

  • Sudden Victory: The first team to score in overtime wins the game.
  • Timed Periods: Overtime may consist of a set period, usually 4 minutes, repeated until a winner is determined.

Variations by League

The duration of lacrosse games can vary significantly across different leagues and levels of play. Your experience as a spectator or player will differ whether you’re engaging with college, professional, high school, or youth lacrosse.

How Long is a College Lacrosse Game?

In college lacrosse, you’ll find that men’s games typically consist of four 15-minute quarters, while the women’s games also have four quarters but with recent changes. As of the 2021 season, NCAA women’s lacrosse games shifted from two 30-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters.

How Long is a College Lacrosse Game?

How Long is a Pro Lacrosse Game?

When you turn your attention to the professional leagues, game lengths maintain a similar structure. Major League Lacrosse (MLL) games are 60 minutes long, divided into four 15-minute quarters. The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) uses the same format.

How Long is a High School Lacrosse Game?

High school lacrosse games are slightly shorter. Your game will comprise four 12-minute quarters for a total of 48 minutes of playing time, not including any potential overtime.

How Long is a Youth Lacrosse Game?

At the youth level, expect even shorter games. These typically last about 40 minutes and are divided into either halves or quarters, depending on the specific rules of the youth league you’re involved with.

Time-Keeping Responsibilities

Lacrosse Timekeeper

As a timekeeper in a lacrosse game, you hold an essential role in maintaining the pace and flow of the match. Your primary task is to track the game clock which involves starting and stopping it in sync with the officials’ whistles and at the end of each playing period.

During a game, you must:

  • Start the clock when play begins.
  • Stop the clock on the official’s whistle to signal a stoppage of play or at the end of a quarter or half.

Recording Penalties:

You are also in charge of monitoring penalty time. You must distinguish between non-releasable and releasable penalties, recording the remaining penalty time accordingly. It is your responsibility to notify penalized players when they may return to the field.

To ensure an orderly flow in the game:

  • Ensure players in the penalty box take a knee as a part of the disciplinary action.
  • Maintain a clear line of sight and hearing to track the game effectively.

(Related: Lacrosse Penalties: 3 Common Ones & Tips to Avoid Them)

Remember, your vigilance and attention to detail in timing and scoring contribute significantly to the game’s structural integrity. Your role supports the referees in managing the smooth progression of the game, making your contributions vital to lacrosse’s fast-paced nature.

Clock Stoppage Rules

In lacrosse, the game clock is stopped for specific events to maintain the correct duration of play. Understanding when the clock stops is crucial for players, coaches, and spectators alike.


  • College and Professional: You are allowed to call timeouts, which stop the game clock. Each team typically has two timeouts per half.
  • High School: High school rules usually permit two timeouts per half as well.

Timeouts are strategic and can be used for rest, to prevent a turnover, or to set up a play.


  • When a player is injured, the clock is immediately stopped.
  • Officials will stop the play and signal for medical attention if needed.

The concern for player safety dictates stoppage time during injuries, and play resumes once the situation is resolved.

Ball Out of Play

  • The clock stops when the ball goes out of bounds.
  • The game is resumed when the ball is returned to play.

Stopping the clock when the ball is out of play ensures that the playing time reflects live action.

Sudden Death Overtime

When your lacrosse game is tied at the end of regular play, it proceeds into a phase called sudden death overtime.

This means the first team to score wins the game. Overtime rules vary by the level of play:

National Lacrosse League (NLL):

  • Each overtime period: 15 minutes
  • Break between periods: 2 minutes

High School and Collegiate Lacrosse:

  • Each overtime period: 4 minutes
  • Break between periods: 2 minutes if additional overtime is needed.

Professional Field Lacrosse (e.g., Premier Lacrosse League):

  • Overtime duration: 12 minutes

Major League Lacrosse (PLL) before the merger:

  • Each overtime period: 10 minutes

In box lacrosse, similar to the NLL, the sudden death periods last fifteen minutes each, with a two-minute break between periods.

During sudden death, the same rules from regulation play apply. Maintaining your focus and precision under this high-pressure scenario is critical, as any goal scored will immediately end the game.

Level of PlayOvertime Period DurationBreak Between Periods
National Lacrosse League (NLL)15 minutes2 minutes
High School & Collegiate4 minutes2 minutes (if needed)
Professional Field Lacrosse12 minutes or 10 minutesVaries

Understanding these rules can influence strategic decisions in preparation for the high-stakes environment of sudden death over time.

Seasonal and Tournament Adjustments

In lacrosse, game durations can be subject to changes based on the particular season or tournament you are participating in. It is essential to understand these adjustments as they can affect your team’s strategy and preparation.

Regular Season:

  • High School: Typically four 12-minute quarters.
  • College (NCAA): Four 15-minute quarters.
  • Professional Field Lacrosse: Also four 15-minute quarters.

Related: When is Lacrosse Season: Key Dates and Seasonal Overview

Tournament Play:

  • Running Time: In some tournaments, particularly youth leagues, games may employ running time instead of the standard stop time, which can drastically shorten the game length.
  • Shortened Quarters: It’s not uncommon for quarters to be shortened, often to 10 or 12 minutes, to accommodate a condensed schedule.
  • Halftime Reduction: Halftime may also be reduced, commonly from 10 to 5 minutes.

Sudden Death Overtime:

  • A sudden death overtime period may be employed if a game is tied at the end of regulation during a tournament. You should prepare for playing extra time without a predefined end, as the game lasts until the next goal is scored.

In conclusion, always verify the game duration rules before you compete, as they may vary based on the event’s structure and the hosting organization.

Impact of Game Delay

In lacrosse, game delays can significantly alter the expected duration and dynamics of a match, affecting both players and spectators.

Weather Delays in Lacrosse Games

Weather Delays

Your lacrosse game can experience interruptions due to weather conditions that are deemed unsafe or unplayable. Events like thunderstorms or heavy rain may cause:

  • Suspension of play: Officials may temporarily halt the game to wait for conditions to improve.
  • Rescheduling: In severe cases, games may need to be postponed to a later date, impacting team schedules.

Unforeseen Interruptions

Unexpected events can also lead to game delays:

  • Equipment issues: Problems with goals, clocks, or field conditions might require immediate attention.
  • Medical emergencies: Player or spectator injuries necessitate pausing the game until medical assistance is rendered.

Pre-Game and Post-Game Proceedings

Before the lacrosse game officially begins, there are specific activities you should be aware of that ensure the game runs smoothly. Teams usually arrive early to the field to warm up and engage in drills. This pre-game routine lasts anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour and is critical for players to prepare physically and mentally for the match.

Subsequently, the team meeting occurs. Coaches outline the game’s strategy, last-minute adjustments to the lineup and motivational talks are delivered. The official equipment check by referees to ensure compliance with regulations also happens during this time.

Coin toss or another decision mechanism dictates which team starts with possession and the choice of goals to defend, adding a small strategic element before the action kicks off.

After the game concludes, post-game proceedings involve:

  • Cool down exercises, such as light jogging and static stretching
  • Teams often have a post-game debrief to discuss performance
  • Equipment collection and maintenance
  • A set time for media interviews and fan interactions

Each of these post-game activities varies by league requirements and team protocols but generally wrap up within an hour after a game ends. It’s important for you to adhere to these procedures to ensure a professional sporting experience for everyone involved.

Comparative Length to Other Sports

When comparing the duration of lacrosse games to other widely recognized sports, you’ll notice some similarities and differences. Here’s a brief overview:

Football (NFL):

  • Typical game length: About 3 hours
  • Structure: Four 15-minute quarters

Basketball (NBA):

Time of NBA Games
NBA Games
  • Typical game length: Approximately 2-2.5 hours
  • Structure: Four 12-minute quarters

Baseball (MLB):

  • Typical game length: Around 3 hours, but with no time limits
  • Structure: Nine innings, variable length

Hockey (NHL):

  • Typical game length: About 2.5 hours
  • Structure: Three 20-minute periods

Soccer (MLS):

  • Typical game length: Roughly 90 minutes plus additional time
  • Structure: Two 45-minute halves

Your lacrosse experience falls in between, generally ranging from 60 to 90 minutes of actual play, excluding potential overtime, timeouts, and halftimes. The game is segmentally structured with quarters and breaks:

  • Youth Lacrosse: Typically around 40 minutes (Length of quarters may vary)
  • College/Professional Lacrosse: Usually 60 minutes of play
    • Structure: Four 15-minute quarters
    • Additions: Time for breaks, timeouts, and halftime

In comparison to other sports, professional lacrosse games are relatively concise but can be extended due to various factors like overtime, which adds a sudden death period of up to 12 minutes where the first team to score wins.

Frequently Asked Questions

In exploring the particulars of lacrosse game durations, you may have several questions. This section addresses common inquiries regarding the length of lacrosse matches across different levels and genders.

The Game of Lacrosse

What is the typical duration of a college lacrosse match, including halftime?

A college lacrosse match typically lasts 60 minutes, not including a halftime break that can span about 10 minutes. Overall, expect the entire event to be about 70 minutes long.

Are the lengths of men’s and women’s lacrosse games different?

Yes, there is a difference. Women’s collegiate lacrosse games consist of two 30-minute halves, while men’s games have four 15-minute quarters.

What is the total playing time in a professional lacrosse league match?

Professional lacrosse matches are generally 48 minutes in length, divided into four 12-minute quarters.

How many periods are there in a standard college lacrosse game, and how long does each last?

A standard college lacrosse game has four 15-minute quarters, totaling 60 minutes of game time.

During a lacrosse season, how many games are usually played?

The number of lacrosse games played in a season can vary. A college lacrosse team may play anywhere between 12 and 18 games, depending on the league and tournament play.

Is the length of a high school lacrosse game the same as that of collegiate lacrosse?

No, high school lacrosse games are usually shorter. They often consist of four 12-minute quarters, totaling 48 minutes, which is less than the collegiate game duration.

What is the longest match in NCAA lacrosse?

The longest match in NCAA lacrosse history is the game between the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, which ended one minute into the seventh overtime, with Virginia winning 10-9. This match is notable for being the longest game in NCAA history.

What is the longest match in lacrosse ever?

The longest lacrosse match ever recorded appears to be a game that lasted 13 hours and 14 minutes, as mentioned in an article from Inside Lacrosse, although the context of this game—whether it was an official match or a special event—is not specified in the snippet provided. For official records, students from Vaughan broke the Guinness World Record for the longest lacrosse game, which lasted 24 hours, according to a CTV News Toronto report.

How long was a lacrosse game in the past?

In the past, particularly during its origins among Indigenous peoples, lacrosse games could last from dawn to dusk and could stretch over the course of 2 or 3 days, according to College Sports Scholarships. These games were played with large numbers of players and covered expansive fields, serving as a form of training for young warriors and as a way to settle disputes among tribes. The duration and rules of these early games were quite different from the standardized time frames of modern lacrosse matches.

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