Lacrosse is an exciting, fast-paced sport that is growing rapidly in popularity at the high school level. If you’re new to lacrosse and wondering, “How long is a high school lacrosse game?” this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: a regulation high school lacrosse game consists of four 12-minute quarters, with a 10-minute halftime break. This means the total game time is around 60 minutes of play.

Regulation Game Length

Four 12-Minute Quarters

A high school lacrosse game typically consists of four 12-minute quarters. Each quarter is played with a running clock, meaning that the clock continues to run even during timeouts and other stoppages of play. This ensures that the game maintains a steady pace and allows for efficient gameplay.

10-Minute Halftime

Between the second and third quarters, there is a 10-minute halftime break. This break provides an opportunity for teams to regroup, strategize, and rest before continuing with the game. It also allows for any necessary adjustments or substitutions to be made.

Approximately 60 Minutes of Total Play

When you add up the four quarters and the halftime break, a high school lacrosse game typically lasts for approximately 60 minutes of total play. However, it’s important to note that the actual duration of a game can vary depending on factors such as the pace of play, the number of stoppages, and any additional time added for penalties or injury timeouts.

According to statistics from US Lacrosse, the governing body for lacrosse in the United States, the average duration of a high school lacrosse game is around 2 hours, including pre-game warm-ups and post-game activities.

This includes the time needed for teams to arrive at the field, warm up, go through any pre-game rituals, and wrap up after the game.

Factors That Can Affect Game Length

When it comes to high school lacrosse games, several factors can influence the length of a match. From injuries and penalties to overtime periods and running clocks, these variables can significantly impact the duration of a game. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors:

Injuries and Penalties

Injuries and penalties can both contribute to the length of a high school lacrosse game. When a player gets injured, play is temporarily stopped while they receive medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injury, this pause in the game can range from a few minutes to several minutes.

Additionally, penalties can result in a player being sidelined for a specific amount of time, further extending the duration of the game. These stoppages in play not only affect the overall game time but can also disrupt the flow and momentum of the teams involved.

Overtime Periods

High school lacrosse games can go into overtime if the score is tied at the end of regulation time. Overtime periods provide teams with an opportunity to break the tie and determine a winner. The length of an overtime period can vary, depending on the league or conference rules.

Some leagues may have a sudden-death format, where the first team to score wins the game, while others may have a predetermined length for each overtime period. In either case, the addition of overtime periods can extend the duration of the game and add an extra level of excitement for players and spectators alike.

Running Clock in Lopsided Games

In lopsided high school lacrosse games where one team has a significant lead over the other, a running clock may be implemented. A running clock means that the clock continues to run continuously, even during stoppages in play such as goals, penalties, or timeouts.

This measure is often used to expedite the conclusion of a game that has already been decided. By limiting the number of stoppages and reducing the overall game time, a running clock helps maintain fairness and efficiency in situations where the outcome is no longer in doubt.

Understanding the factors that can affect the length of a high school lacrosse game is essential for players, coaches, and spectators. By being aware of these variables, individuals can better anticipate the duration of a match and plan accordingly.

Whether it’s injuries and penalties, overtime periods, or the implementation of a running clock, each of these factors plays a role in shaping the length of a high school lacrosse game.

Timing Rules and Procedures

Understanding the timing rules and procedures is essential when it comes to knowing how long a high school lacrosse game lasts. This section will break down the different aspects of timing in a lacrosse game, including game clock operation, timeouts, substitutions, and injured player protocols.

Game Clock Operation

In a high school lacrosse game, the game clock typically runs for four quarters. Each quarter is typically 12 minutes long. However, it’s important to note that the game clock may vary depending on the specific league or level of play.

The clock stops during certain situations, such as timeouts, penalties, and when a goal is scored. This ensures that the game maintains a fair and consistent pace.


Teams are typically allowed a certain number of timeouts during a high school lacrosse game. This varies depending on the league or level of play, but teams often have two or three timeouts per game. A timeout can be called by either team and allows the coaches to gather their players, discuss strategies, and make necessary adjustments.

Timeout durations can vary but are usually around one minute.


Substitutions in lacrosse are typically allowed during certain stoppages of play, such as after a goal is scored, during a timeout, or after a penalty is called. Substitutions can also be made during possession changes, called “on the fly” substitutions.

This allows teams to maintain a fresh lineup and adjust to different game situations. It’s important for players to communicate and coordinate their substitutions effectively to avoid confusion on the field.

Injured Players

If a player is injured during a high school lacrosse game, the game is typically paused to ensure the player receives appropriate medical attention. The injured player may be substituted by another player, and the game resumes once the injured player has been taken care of.

Safety is a top priority in lacrosse, and protocols are in place to handle injuries in a timely and appropriate manner.

For more detailed information on the timing rules and procedures in high school lacrosse, you can visit the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) website. They provide comprehensive resources and guidelines for lacrosse officiating, including the timing rules that govern the sport.

Differences Between Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse

Boys’ Lacrosse Timing Rules

Boys’ lacrosse games typically consist of four quarters, with each quarter lasting 12 minutes. However, the actual playing time may vary depending on factors such as penalties, timeouts, and injuries. The clock stops during timeouts and certain penalties, but it continues to run during normal play.

Each team also has a designated amount of time to clear the ball from their defensive end, typically around 20 seconds. If a team fails to clear the ball within the allotted time, possession is awarded to the opposing team.

It’s important to note that boys’ lacrosse games often have a faster pace and more physicality compared to girls’ lacrosse games. This is reflected in the timing rules, which allow for a quicker and more aggressive style of play.

Girls’ Lacrosse Timing Rules

In contrast to boys’ lacrosse, girls’ lacrosse games are played in two halves, each lasting 25 minutes. However, the actual playing time may be shorter due to factors such as timeouts and penalties. The clock stops during timeouts and certain penalties, but it continues to run during normal play.

Similar to boys’ lacrosse, each team has a designated amount of time to clear the ball from their defensive end, usually around 10 seconds. If a team fails to clear the ball within the allotted time, possession is awarded to the opposing team.

Girls’ lacrosse games tend to have a slightly slower pace compared to boys’ lacrosse, with a greater emphasis on finesse and strategy. The timing rules reflect this difference, allowing for a more controlled and deliberate style of play.

Other Rule Differences

Aside from timing rules, there are several other differences between boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. One notable difference is the use of protective gear. Boys’ lacrosse players are required to wear helmets, shoulder pads, arm pads, and gloves, while girls’ lacrosse players typically wear only goggles and mouthguards for protection.

Another difference is the checking rules. In boys’ lacrosse, players are allowed to check each other with their sticks, including body checks. In girls’ lacrosse, stick checking is allowed, but body checking is not permitted.

Additionally, boys’ lacrosse has a different offside rule compared to girls’ lacrosse. In boys’ lacrosse, there is an offside line that players must stay behind, with a certain number of players required to stay in the offensive and defensive zones. Girls’ lacrosse does not have this offside rule.

It’s important for players, coaches, and spectators to be aware of these rule differences when watching or participating in lacrosse games. Understanding the nuances of each version of the sport can enhance the overall experience and appreciation for the game.

Tips for Spectators

Attending a high school lacrosse game can be an exciting experience. Watching talented athletes compete on the field and cheering for your favorite team can create a fun and memorable atmosphere. If you’re planning to be a spectator at a high school lacrosse game, here are some tips to enhance your experience:

Arrive Early

Arriving early to the game allows you to secure a good spot to watch the action unfold. This is especially important for popular matchups where the stands may fill up quickly. By arriving early, you can also take advantage of any pre-game festivities or warm-ups that may be happening on the field.

Plus, it gives you time to find parking and get settled before the game begins.

Dress for the Weather

Since high school lacrosse games are often played outdoors, it’s important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Check the forecast before heading to the game and dress in layers if necessary.

Remember to bring sunscreen and a hat for sunny days, and a jacket or blanket for cooler evenings. Being comfortable will allow you to focus on enjoying the game without distractions.

Bring Cash for Concessions

Most high school lacrosse games have concession stands where you can purchase snacks and drinks. To avoid any disappointment, it’s a good idea to bring cash with you. This way, you can indulge in some tasty treats or grab a refreshing beverage to enjoy while watching the game.

Plus, supporting the concessions is a great way to contribute to the school’s athletic program.

Learn the Rules Beforehand

If you’re new to lacrosse or unfamiliar with the rules, it can be helpful to do a little research before attending a game. Understanding the basic rules and terminology will allow you to follow the action more easily and appreciate the skill and strategy involved.

There are many online resources available, including US Lacrosse, that provide comprehensive explanations of the game’s rules and regulations.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy a high school lacrosse game as a spectator. So grab your friends or family, head to the game, and get ready to cheer on your favorite team!


Hopefully this breakdown gives you a good understanding of what to expect when watching a high school lacrosse game. With four 12-minute quarters and a 10-minute halftime, a regulation contest takes about 60 minutes of play.

However, penalties, injuries, overtime, and running clock can lengthen or shorten the game. Knowing the timing rules and procedures will help you follow along. And being prepared as a spectator will let you enjoy the action.

Lacrosse is an exciting sport – now you know exactly how long you’ll get to experience the thrill of a high school match!

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