How Long is Each Quarter of a Basketball Game?

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Would you like to know how the NBA quarter length? Would you like to know if each quarter’s length is different at different levels of basketball and in different leagues across the world? Basketball rules across leagues can be different, so it is understandable how one can get confused about the length of the quarter of each game you are watching or playing in. 

We would like you to better understand the length of a basketball game and the quarters, in particular, so we will explore that in detail today so that you can get a better understanding of how the clock works for these games.

How Long is a Basketball GameHow Long is a Basketball Game?

Even though basketball is the same sport wherever you play, different leagues have different clock operations throughout the game. Because the various leagues will use different times on their game clocks, the overall length of a basketball game is going to be different based on the leagues you are playing in or watching. Let’s take a look at each of these leagues and see what amount of time the quarters last.

High School Clock Time vs. Actual Time

Typically, high school games are scheduled for 32 minutes, and those 32 minutes are divided into four quarters that are 8 minutes each. Even though a game has a 32-minutes runtime, the real-time that the game lasts will be much longer.

There are different reasons why the games extend beyond the 32 minutes, such as quarter breaks, half time break, and timeouts. The halftime breaks in each game last 10 minutes long. During the course of a high school game, each team is given five timeouts. Three are 60 seconds, and two are 30 seconds in length. 

Due to stoppages in the game, such as violations, free throws, and others, the average length of a high school basketball game is around 75 minutes.

The longest high school game in history was between Boone Trail High School and Angier High School on February 29th, 1964. This game lasted for over 3 hours. The reason for the game’s length was 13 extra time periods that were played after the regulation time ended. Regulation time ended with the score tied at 44 apiece.

After the final whistle in regulation, the teams went on to play 13 overtime periods, 9 of which were scoreless. In the end, Boone Trail High School was able to eke out a 54-52 victory.

College Clock Time vs. Actual Game Time
College Clock Time vs. Actual Game Time

College basketball games run a 40-minute game clock. The game is played in two halves that are 20 minutes in length and not four quarters like most other leagues. The average length of a college basketball game does vary based on whether or not the game is televised.

A college basketball game usually goes for 2 hours, give or take, and not 40 minutes for the game time. The extra time is because of the game clock’s stoppages such as timeouts, violations, free throws, and others. The longest college basketball game in history occurred in 1981 when Bradley played Cincinnati in the NCAA Division 1.

This game took 7 overtime periods after the score was tied at 61 at the end of regulation. The University of Cincinnati managed to win the game by 2 points with a score of 75 to 73 after 75 minutes of play.

WNBA Clock time vs. Actual Time

A WNBA game is one that usually lasts just over 2 hours. The game itself isn’t played for 2 hours but 48 minutes. A WNBA game has four quarters what are 12 minutes each, but there are breaks between these quarters. These quarter breaks and half time break will make the game time a lot longer than 48 minutes, not to mention the usual stoppages such as timeouts and others.

NBA Clock Time vs. Actual Time
An average NBA game in the regular season usually goes a lot longer than the 48 minutes of playing time. NBA games are usually the longest type of basketball games because of the many stoppages that they entail. An average NBA game runs over 2 hours in the regular season and can get a lot longer in the playoffs. The playoffs are usually more aggressive than most regular-season games, so you may find a lot more stoppages throughout the games.

The longest NBA basketball game in history was between Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals on January 6th, 1951. The game went for six overtime periods and lasted for 78 game clock mins.The Olympians won the game 75 to 73.

FIBA Clock Time vs. Actual

Time FIBA International games are not as long as NBA games, but they are quite lengthy. The playing time for a FIBA game is 40 minutes, and that is divided into four 10-minute quarters. FIBA quarters and clock time are shorter than that of the NBA by a total of 8 minutes.

Two-minute breaks follow the first and third quarters, and the second quarter is followed by a 15-minute halftime break. The usual stoppages are also apart of FIBA games, so these games will go around 2 hours. 

What is a Basketball QuarterWhat is a Basketball Quarter?

The game of basketball is divided into four equal time periods called quarters. Most basketball leagues around the world divide the game into quarters. Short tournaments such as 3v3 tournaments or other scrimmages do not usually use quarters, but they are used for official leagues.
The game is divided into quarters for a few reasons, such as allowing the players adequate time to rest, allowing coaches opportunities to adjust and change their strategies and other things. The time a quarter last for in a basketball will depend on the league in question. Some quarters last for 8 minutes,10 minutes, and others will last for 12. 

What is a Basketball Quarter

How Many Quarters are in a Basketball GameHow Many Quarters are in a Basketball Game?

Men’s College basketball, unlike most other basketball leagues, do not use the quarter system. In men’s college basketball, the game is divided into two separate 20-minute halves instead of quarters.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages to this method. An advantage of using the 20 minutes half is that players can get into the game and play for longer periods without quarter breaks. A disadvantage of this is that the length of the playing time may not allow players to rest adequately without compromising the team’s efficiency.


In the NBA, the games are divided into four equal quarters of 12 minutes each. Throughout each quarter, teams may use timeouts or other stoppages may occur and this will lead to the length of the quarter being longer than 12 minutes.

High School

In the High School league, the quarter system is used, similarly to most leagues around the world. This means that there are four quarters in regulation time. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, then a 4 minutes overtime will be played.


In the WNBA, the games are timed in for periods of 12 minutes each. At These four quarters are quite similar to those of the NBA. The Chicago Sky scored the most points that have ever been scored in a single quarter in the WNBA history on August 7th, 2019. The Chicago sky team scored 42 against the New York Liberty. 


FIBA games are also divided into four quarters, like many other leagues. Each FIBA game is divided into 10 minute quarters and followed by overtime if it is needed.

What's the Difference Between the Duration of Quarters in Each Basketball GameWhat’s the Difference Between the Duration of Quarters in Each Basketball Game?

High School

High school basketball games are divided into four quarters that are 8 minutes of game time each year. Each quarter will last much longer than 8 minutes and will average around 18 minutes in length. The third and fourth quarters may be longer than the first and second quarters because the game becomes more intense during these periods.

What's the Difference Between the Duration of Quarters in Each Basketball Game


Men’s college basketball is not divided into four periods of time, but instead, college basketball games are divided into two halves, similar to soccer. Each half of a college basketball game is the 20 minutes of playing time, however, the actual length of the half will go around 60 minutes. The second half of the game is usually longer than of the first half.


Even though WNBA quarters have 12 minutes of playing time, the actual quarter will run for around 20-26 minutes. Like all NBA games, each quarter is going to be stopped by dead balls, timeouts, and any other breaks that may occur. Even an overtime period can go over 15 minutes.

NBA clock

The final two quarters in the second half of an NBA game are usually longer than the first two because the game becomes a lot more competitive during this time. During the playoffs, the quarters are even longer than the regular season.
The reason for the longer quarters is the aggressiveness of players that would result in fouls and the attention to details that coaches give to the games that would result in numerous timeouts. Each NBA quarter is 12 minutes in length but can run around 28 minutes in actual time.

FIBA clock 

The FIBA quarter length is not as long as that as the NBA nor the WNBA. Unlike these two major leagues, games played in FIBA regions are played with quarters of 10 minutes in length each.
Because of the shorter quarters, the scores are often far less than that of other leagues. Even though the quarters have a clock time of 10 minutes if they can go to around 26 minutes in length. They can last even longer in more intense games. 

How Long is a Quarter in Basketball

How Long is a Quarter in BasketballHow Long is a Quarter in Basketball?

High School 

Due to the players’ age and physical attributes, high school basketball has the shortest quarter length in basketball. The quarter length for a high school basketball game is 8 minutes.

For those of us who are accustomed to the 12-minute quarters of professional leagues, 8 minutes may seem like a small amount of time, but keep in mind that most high schoolers cannot participate at such a high level as older professional players. One drawback to such a short quarter length is that coaches may find it difficult to give enough playing time to all the players.


The NCAA men’s college basketball competition does not use quarters, but instead, it uses 20 minutes halves. These 20-minute halves are not as long as the 24 minutes half of the professional game, but it still is just as exciting. Even though there are only 20 minutes on the game clock, they do go far beyond this time, sometimes stretching even up to an hour.


In the WNBA, the length of the quarter played is the same as the NBA. A WNBA quarter is 12 minutes long. Even though the length of the quarters is the same, unfortunately, the skill set and the players’ physical attributes are vastly different from their male counterparts, so the scores will be lower compared to that of the NBA.


An NBA quarter is the same length as those in the WNBA. An NBA quarter is 12 minutes long on the clock. The playing time is vastly different from the length of time the quarter lasts, and the NBA quarters can sometimes go up to 30 minutes in length. The highest points ever scored in an NBA quarter were scored by Klay Thompson when he scored 37 points against the Sacramento Kings. 


The length of a quarter in FIBA leagues is 10 minutes. This 10-minute quarter length is different from most leagues played in the US.

Is Quarter Length Different in the NBAIs Quarter Length Different in the NBA?

In the NBA or basketball games in general, each quarter’s length throughout the game is always the same on the clock. In the NBA, the length of a quarter is 12 minutes on the clock, however, the overall time for each quarter can be different based on the number of stoppages done in the quarter.

In a lot of games, the fourth quarter is the longest quarter because of the stoppages being more numerous, especially timeouts.  When the NBA resumed in 2020 after the regular season was put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreaks, the NBA used 10-minute quarters instead of 12 for the exhibition games.

Wrapping Things Up: How Long is Each Quarter of a Basketball Game?

The length of quarters in basketball depends largely on the league being played. In men’s college basketball in the US, 20-minute halves are used instead of quarters. In most high school leagues across the country, quarters are eight minutes in length but may vary slightly in some states.

At the Collegiate level, women basketball games are done in 10-minute quarters but the professional women’s league, the WNBA, uses 12-minute quarters. The NBA, the major league in the US uses 12 minutes quarters. In FIBA leagues across the world the length of the quarter is different than the NBA. FIBA games are played with 10-minute quarters.

If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Here are a few FAQ articles you may find interesting:

> How Long Does a Basketball Game Last?

> How Long is a Basketball Game? Basketball 101

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