How Long is a Youth Soccer Game

How long is a youth soccer game?” It’s a question many parents, coaches, and soccer enthusiasts often ponder. Is it 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or a full 90 minutes like professional matches? The duration of a youth soccer game can be a deciding factor for many things, from planning your day around your child’s match to understanding the stamina and focus required at different age levels.

In this guide, we’ll unravel the mystery behind the varying lengths of youth soccer games based on age groups. By the end of this read, you won’t just be a spectator; you’ll be a well-informed soccer lover, ready for any match, any time!

How Long is a Youth Soccer Game?

When it comes to youth soccer, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. The length of a game isn’t a random number; it’s meticulously decided based on the age group of the players. This is done to ensure that the game duration is appropriate for the players’ stamina, skill level, and developmental stage. Let’s break it down age by age:

  • U6 Soccer Duration: At this tender age, the primary focus is on introducing kids to the game and ensuring they have fun. Thus, the matches are kept short and energetic. A typical U6 game lasts for 20 minutes, divided into two halves of 10 minutes each.
  • U8 Soccer Duration: As kids grow and their understanding of the game deepens, they’re ready for a bit more action. U8 matches are set at 40 minutes, with two halves of 20 minutes each.
  • U10 Soccer Duration: By this age, players start showing more skills and tactics. The game duration is extended to 50 minutes, split into two halves of 25 minutes each.
  • U12 Soccer Duration: Entering the pre-teen years, players are more conditioned and can handle longer matches. A U12 game goes on for 60 minutes, divided into 30-minute halves.
  • U14 Soccer Duration: With enhanced stamina and advanced skills, U14 players engage in an 80-minute match, split into two halves of 40 minutes each.
  • U16 & U19 Soccer Duration: These age groups are almost at the professional level. They play a full 90-minute match, just like the pros, divided into two 45-minute halves.

In essence, as players grow both in age and in their soccer abilities, the game duration increases to challenge them appropriately and to prepare them for professional standards. This age-specific approach ensures that players are neither overwhelmed nor under-challenged, making the beautiful game enjoyable and developmental at every stage.

Which Other Elements Play Pivotal Role In Soccer Experience?

In addition to the game’s duration, several other elements play a pivotal role in shaping the soccer experience. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Warmups in Soccer

Warmups are essential to prepare players physically and mentally for the match. They help in increasing blood flow to the muscles, reducing the risk of injuries, and setting the right mindset.

  • Duration: Typically, warmups for youth soccer teams can last between 15-30 minutes. However, the exact time can vary based on the coach’s strategy, the age group, and the level of competition.
  • Activities: Warmups may include jogging, dynamic stretching, agility drills, ball control exercises, and short team strategy discussions.

2. Halftime in a Youth Soccer Game

Halftime serves as a break for players to rest, hydrate, and receive strategic input from their coaches.

  • Duration: In professional soccer, halftime lasts for 15 minutes. In youth soccer, it’s typically shorter, ranging from 5-10 minutes, though this can vary based on the league and age group.
  • Activities: Players often rehydrate, listen to their coach’s feedback, and discuss strategies for the second half. It’s also a time for any necessary medical attention.

3. Overtime in Soccer

In certain matches, especially knockout stages of tournaments, a clear winner is required. If the game is tied at the end of regular time, overtime and potentially penalty kicks are used to determine the winner.

  • Duration: Overtime usually consists of two 15-minute halves. If the match is still tied after overtime, it moves to penalty kicks, where each team gets an initial set of five shots.
  • Rules: The specifics of overtime and penalty kicks can vary based on the competition and age group. For instance, some youth leagues might avoid overtime to prevent fatigue.

4. Stoppage Time In Youth Soccer Game

Stoppage time is to compensate for time lost during the game due to injuries, substitutions, or other delays.

  • Duration: Determined by the on-field referee, it’s added at the end of each half. Typically, it ranges between 2-5 minutes but can be longer if there are significant disruptions.
  • Rules: The clock continues to run in soccer, so stoppage time ensures that actual playing time is close to the intended duration.

Professional Soccer vs. Youth Soccer

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between Professional Soccer and Youth Soccer.

AspectsProfessional SoccerYouth Soccer (e.g., U6-U19)
Game Duration90 minutes (Two 45-minute halves)Varies by age: U6 (20 mins), U8 (40 mins), U10 (50 mins), U12 (60 mins), U14 (80 mins), U16 & U19 (90 mins)
Halftime Duration15 minutesTypically 5-10 minutes, varies by league and age group
Overtime30 minutes (Two 15-minute halves) in knockout stagesRarely, but if so, duration varies by age and league rules
Stoppage TimeYes, added for injuries, substitutions, etc.Rarely, and if so, typically shorter than professional games
Penalty ShootoutsYes, in knockout stages if tied after overtimeOnly in certain tournaments or playoff scenarios
Number of SubstitutionsLimited (usually 3, but can vary in some tournaments)More flexible, often unlimited or with a higher limit
PhysicalityHigh, given the professional stakesVaries by age, but generally less intense than professional
Tactics & StrategyAdvanced and intricateProgressively develops with age; simpler for younger ages

This table provides a clear distinction between professional and youth soccer in various aspects. However, it’s essential to note that specific rules, especially for youth soccer, can vary based on the league, country, and even local regulations.


So, “How long is a youth soccer game?” From the youngest age groups, like U6 with their brisk 20-minute matches, to the U19 players who tackle full 90-minute games, the duration varies based on age and developmental stages. But it’s not just about the game time. Elements like warmups, halftime breaks, and the occasional overtime or penalty shootouts also play a pivotal role in the soccer experience. Whether you’re a budding player, an enthusiastic parent, or a curious fan, understanding these intricacies ensures you’re always in tune with the rhythm of the game. If you enjoyed this, you’ll definitely appreciate our guide on How to Play Rage Cage.

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