How Long Is A Lacrosse Game?

Lacrosse is a popular team sport played with a lacrosse stick and a ball. The game length can vary depending on the level and league. High school lacrosse games have four 12 minute quarters for a total game time of 48 minutes. College lacrosse games have four 15 minute quarters for a total of 60 minutes. 

How long is a lacrosse game? It can really depend on whether you’re watching youth, high school, college or professional lacrosse. But a typical full game with overtime can last around two hours or more. The action-packed pace keeps fans engaged from start to finish. 

Lacrosse is often referred to as the fastest game on two feet. It’s played on a large open field with ten players on each team. The players use lacrosse sticks with a mesh net pocket to pass, catch and shoot the ball into the opposing team’s goal.

Average Length Of Lacrosse Games

Lacrosse games at the professional level typically run longer than college, high school, or youth games. The average length can vary depending on the league and level of play. Most lacrosse games at minimum will last around an hour and a half to two hours with overtime.

Professional lacrosse games have four 20-minute quarters, for 80 minutes of total game play. Then add in a 20-minute halftime break plus potential overtime, and the average pro lacrosse game runs around two hours. College matches are typically shorter since they have 15-minute quarters the average college game lasts around 90 minutes without overtime. 

High school lacrosse usually has 12-minute quarters for about an hour of actual play. Youth or middle school games tend to be closer to 40-50 minutes of on-field action. But no matter what level, most lacrosse games are fast-paced for the entire duration thanks to the continuous substitutions and non-stop movement up and down the field.

Factors That Affect Lacrosse Game Length

Factors That Affect Lacrosse Game Length

A couple key factors impact the total length of a lacrosse game beyond just the designated length of quarters. For one, games can go into overtime if teams are tied at the end of regulation. Most leagues play sudden-death overtime where the first team to score wins.

Game flow and pace of play affects duration. More experienced teams at higher levels tend to set up offensive plays more quickly and waste less time. Games with a ton of turnovers or penalties can take longer too. Weather can also extend a match if there are lightning delays forcing teams off the field for safety reasons.  

Professional Lacrosse Game Lengths

League Length of Quarters Halftime Length Total Game Time
NLL 15 minutes 12 minutes 60-90 minutes
PLL 20 minutes 10 minutes ~120 minutes
MLL 20 minutes 12 minutes ~120 minutes

College Lacrosse Game Lengths 

NCAA rules dictate that a college lacrosse game consists of four quarters lasting 15 minutes each. So without overtime, the total game time comes out to 60 minutes. But there are also mandated halftimes and other potential stoppages of play.

College lacrosse includes a 10-minute break between the second and third quarters by rule. Plus teams get the standard four timeouts per half. Add in the potential for injuries, equipment issues, or penalties and a college lacrosse game can approach 90 minutes.  

Now if the score is tied at the end of regulation, NCAA games implement sudden death overtime of 4-minute periods until there is a winner. So a competitive overtime contest could tack on 15-20 additional minutes. All told, most college lacrosse games including halftime, overtime, and all stoppages span about two hours.

Youth Lacrosse Game Lengths

Youth or middle school lacrosse games are played in four quarters but the length of those quarters varies by age. For U15 teams, high school rules are followed with 12-minute quarters. U13 teams play 10-minute quarters while U11 squads have 8-minute quarters. This makes the target game length 40-50 minutes without overtime.

One exception is some recreational leagues which implement running time instead of stop time. So the clock continues to run outside of major stoppages like penalties or injuries. This is done in order to ensure games don’t go overly long with shorter roster sizes. The downside is teams can wind up stalling or taking too long to set up offensive sets.

Lacrosse Halftime Rules

Halftime lengths are standardised in lacrosse based on the level of competition. Professional leagues currently employ 10-12 minute halftime breaks by rule. College lacrosse mandates precisely a 10-minute intermission between halves. And most youth leagues build in 5-7 minute breaks to allow teams to rest without excessive downtime.

In all cases, the halftime clock starts once the teams leave the field after the second quarter. So any stoppage or delay at the very end of the half impacts the break length. If there is an unusual delay heading into halftime from player altercations or similar issues, officials have discretion to shorten halftime as needed to keep the game on schedule.

During halftime, neither teams nor coaches are allowed on the field until one minute remaining on the break. Strength and conditioning coaches plus medical staff can access players to provide aid or treatment as needed. 

Overtime Rules In Lacrosse Games  

If the score remains tied at the end of regulation in lacrosse, overtime is implemented to determine a winner. Most leagues today follow NCAA standards using sudden death overtime of 4-minute periods with single golden goal format. This means whichever teams scores first wins immediately without completing the full overtime period.

The goal behind the NCAA lacrosse overtime setup is to facilitate an expedient conclusion without excessive additional time. The short 4-minute segments with golden goal provide a compressed window for each team to attempt to score while lowering fatigue impact. Games can certainly extend longer with multiple overtime sessions, but the intent is to utilize the current rules for a quicker resolution.

Strategies To Shorten Lacrosse Games

For recreational or youth lacrosse leagues, game duration can be a challenge with developing players. Running time clocks are one strategic way to shorten total game lengths by not stopping play for each whistle or ball out of bounds. This allows play to continue uninterrupted for longer stretches.

Shortening quarter length and halftime breaks are other easy ways to limit overall lacrosse game durations. But some leagues or tournament directors opt to reduce roster sizes on each team as a method to pick up pace of play. The philosophy here is that with fewer players on the field, teams focus more on transitioning between offence and defence rapidly without deep substitutions.

Box Lacrosse Game Lengths

Box lacrosse is an indoor variation of lacrosse played by professional leagues and some youth or recreational teams. The main rules different from standard lacrosse relate to shortened playing area, smaller number of runners, Draw Control In Lacrosse, and reduced game lengths.

Professional box lacrosse games consist of four 15-minutes quarters compared to the 20-minute quarters played outdoors. And at the youth level, leagues often utilise even shorter 10-12 minute quarters for box lacrosse. This accounts for the increased physical intensity of playing a normally wide open game within an enclosed arena.

What to Expect During a Lacrosse Game

What to Expect During a Lacrosse Game

Fans attending a lacrosse game for the first time will want to expect fast-paced, free-flowing action from start to finish. With little stoppage outside of penalties, goals scored, balls out of play, or player injuries, the game moves with continuity up and down the length of the field. Offensive possessions develop quickly into shots with teams seamlessly transitioning between offence and defence.

The continual back and forth with plenty of physical contact makes every minute of a lacrosse game full of excitement and adrenaline for players and fans alike. On the field, coordination between teammates happens at full speed requiring tremendous skill to complete passes, scoop ground balls, and find open cutters. Goals can occur rapidly at times causing shifts in momentum.  

Impact Of Lacrosse Game Lengths On Player Development

The effect of various lacrosse game lengths on young athletes’ development has received more focus in recent years. Research indicates optimal exposure for peak skill progression while lowering injury risks exists somewhere between 50-80 minutes per game for adolescents. 

Younger players around 10-12 years old see greater improvements with more repetitions in shorter bursts. Thus, youth leagues tailoring game durations to 30-40 minutes of actual playing time including stoppages yield the best results for athlete growth. Training the sport specific endurance needed for lacrosse comes later around ages 14+ when game lengths can extend longer. 


How many minutes is a game played in lacrosse?

A standard lacrosse game at the professional level is four 15-20 minute quarters, depending on the league, for 60-80 minutes of total game play time.

How many periods are there in a lacrosse game?

A regulation lacrosse game consists of 4 periods or quarters total.

How long is a boys lacrosse game?

A standard boys high school lacrosse game consists of four 12-minute quarters, for a total game time of 48 minutes excluding overtime.


Lacrosse is played at various competitive levels, each with their own standard game lengths. Professional leagues have 20-minute quarters while college plays 15-minute quarters. High school games consist of 12-minute quarters and youth leagues range from 8-12 minutes depending on age. No matter what level, lacrosse is played at a frenetic pace with continuous back-and-forth action. 

While quarter lengths get shortened for younger players, the amount of actual play time stays fairly consistent once you factor in penalties, goals, and other stoppages that pause the game clock. A typical lacrosse game lasts around 60-90 minutes at minimum, not counting potential overtime. With nonstop intensity and excitement, fans are sure to be entertained the entire match.

Leave a Comment