How Long Do Volleyball Games Last?

Someone you know just joined the volleyball team, and their first game is coming up. You’d love to go and support them, but with a busy schedule, you don’t know if you can make it. You’re trying to plan it out, but how long do volleyball games last? How long is each set?

A typical volleyball match can run from 60-90 minutes, but there is no set time limit. Refer to the table below to estimate the length of volleyball games for different levels.

Estimated Length of VolleyBall Games Based on Players
Age of PlayersNumber of Sets  Estimated Time Per SetEstimated Time Per Game
Elementary Age2/315 minutes45 minutes
Middle School2/315-20 minutes45 minutes -1 hour
High School3/520–25 minutes1 hour and 15 minutes
College/Professional3/520-25 minutes1 hour and 30 minutes

The length of a volleyball game is never the same, as it depends on the age of the players and the length of their rallies. If you have younger players, the game will most likely be 45 minutes with individual sets of 15 minutes. If the players are older and more experienced, they will play more sets with longer rallies that could make the entire match last for more than 1 hour and 30 minutes. Read on to learn more about how the length of a volleyball game is determined and how long tournaments last.

How is the length of a volleyball match determined?

Volleyball games have no set time limit as they are determined by the number of sets needed to win the game. For example, younger and less experienced players typically play to win two out of three sets. Some other teams play all three sets even if the other team has already won two! For the younger, less experienced players, matches are shorter and may have a time limit, but it depends on the league’s rules.

Older or more professional players play to win three out of five games. This means they may end up playing all five sets. Since these players are more experienced, they may have longer rallies which may make each set longer. A typical set is completed within 25 minutes. If they have to play five 25-minute games, the volleyball match could go up to two hours but typically ends within 90 minutes.

Timeouts, substitutions, and breaks also play a part in the length of a volleyball game, but with all things considered, they make no noticeable difference in how long a match will last.

How Long Are Timeouts, Substitutions, and Breaks?

Timeouts are also considered in the length of volleyball games, yet they don’t make much difference.

Volleyball teams are given two 30-75 second time-outs per game. This can only add 2 minutes to each set and 6 minutes to the match.

Teams can perform substitutions when the ball is not in play. Therefore, substitutions do not add any time to the match’s length.

Breaks can happen between each game. For younger teams, a 5-minute interval is given to rest. However, for older players, there is only a 3-minute break between most sets, except for a 2-10 minute break between the second and third sets. Click here for Volleyball Timeout Strategies: When to Call It and What to Say

Before Game and After Game Activities

It’s important to remember that the pre and post-game activities will also affect the length of the game. The amount of time will vary based on the experience level of the team. A younger team will likely not spend as much time warming up and cooling down as a college or university varsity team will. Varsity teams may warm up for over an hour before the actual game!

This also does not include the time in the changing room getting uniforms and equipment on or the pre-game huddle, strategy and/or pep talk from the coach. After the game, players again need to change and remove equipment, and the coach will again often have a debrief on how the game went. How long this all takes, of course, again depends on the experience level of the team. Younger teams may do this quite quickly, while varsity teams will spend significant time on this.

Time for cooling down after the game is also important. Varsity players will play much more intensely than younger players, so they will need adequate time for stretching and rehydrating. And, depending on the outcome of the game, some players may need some time to personally reflect on the game, and either celebrate – or come to terms with a defeat.

Also, depending on the league, varsity games may also introduce all the players and coaches individually before the game starts. This can add a considerable amount of time to the overall game. However, varsity games are also very entertaining, with upbeat music being played and often even a mascot entertaining the crowd. All worth the extra time added!

Home Team vs Visiting Team

Often, the home team is asked to arrive early to help with setting up and putting away the equipment. This again depends on the league level – for younger teams, learning this responsibility is an important part of their volleyball careers. However, further up into varsity leagues, players are able to focus more on the game and less on setting up and cleaning up the equipment.

While visiting teams aren’t usually required to setup and clean up, they have committed the extra time to travel a further distance to their opponent’s gym.

How Long Do Volleyball Tournaments Usually Last?

Professional volleyball tournaments consist of various matches between different teams. However, most tournaments last about 8 to 10 hours. If the tournament is for younger players, it is expected to be completed in a shorter time spread over two days.

For professional volleyball teams, there is no determined time for a tournament. They could be 8-10 hours or spread over three or more days, depending on how many teams are in the tournament.

Although we’d all like an answer to be prepared, the lengths of tournaments depend on the level of your team, the length of each game, and whether or not your team wins each match. Click here for Complete Guide to Planning and Hosting a Volleyball Tournament

How Long Do Beach Volleyball Games Last?

The average length of Olympic beach volleyball games is shorter than regular matches, regardless of the number of sets played. According to the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, the Olympic sand volleyball matches consisted of 78 – 96 rallies and averaged 30-64 minutes.

However, beach volleyball games with less skilled players will last shorter than Olympic games. This is because the number of rallies will be significantly lower due to the skill level of the players.

The average length of a beach volleyball game for fun and beginners is about 45 to 60 minutes, but it depends on the players’ skill level and the game rules set by them.

How Many Points Are Needed to Win? How Fast Do They Score?

According to the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, the number of points needed to win was originally 15, winning by 2. However, they changed the point requirement from 15 to 25 in 1998. This drastically altered the time volleyball games took because they switched from side-out scoring to rally scoring.

Side-out scoring games last longer than rally scoring games, as only the serving teams could score. They were making it much more difficult for both teams to score frequently. In rally scoring games, either the serving or receiving teams can score during a rally. The switch to rally scoring made games much quicker as a team gets the point when the other team fails to return the ball over the net or when the ball goes out of bounds. The teams can also receive points if a player makes an infraction or a service error.

Conclusion

Volleyball is an intense sport that lasts from 60-90 minutes, depending on the game’s formatting and the player’s skill level. If the teams are younger and still learning, you should expect the game to be 45-60 minutes long. Expect 60-90 minutes or more for each match for older groups! Beach volleyball matches last about 30-60 minutes. Whether you’re just watching or playing in the team, be prepared to be there for a good portion of your day!

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