How Many Quarters In Football? (Explained!)

Last Updated on May 15, 2022 by

Four! There are four 15 minute quarters in the NFL, with each of those quarters separated by a halftime break of 12 minutes apiece. At the end of each quarter, teams change ends of the field at their respective will.

The game of football traditionally has four quarters each lasting fifteen minutes, with a two-minute warning. A high school football game on the other hand is 48 minutes long and is divided into four twelve-minute quarters, quantifying each time as a different quarter titled as such for the sake of scoring and keeping track of the time. The clock stops momentarily after certain plays during the game. For example, if the offense commits a penalty, then there is always a five-yard penalty for delay of game, or if there is a timeout taken by either team. 

Some injuries often lead to stoppages in play, allowing oxygen to be given to the injured player and allowing people to tend to them. These all add up adding time onto the clock as it can take sometimes as long as 30 minutes before either team scores in addition to advertisement breaks and TV timeouts, increasing this number even further so that games over 3 hours are not uncommon.

The table below consists of football levels, number, and duration of quarters. 

LevelsNumber of quartersQuarter Duration
Professional football (NFL)Four quarters15 minutes 
High school football Four quarters12 Minutes
College footballFour quarters15 minutes

Are There Breaks During the Game?

Are There Breaks During the Game

NFL and college games have many breaks that prevent the play clock from continuously running. The first break is known as halftime, which lasts for about 12 minutes in both NFL and college games. At the Super Bowl, many people come out to watch the halftime show so football players need to rest, be it mentally or physically because all of this entertainment can become tiring after a while especially when they are not used to performing onstage or having everyone stare at them which can lead to stage fright! 

In college ball games, however, there is no halftime show, so the band performs on the field and applies some much-needed morale-building into their performance during halftime. After every quarter of football has been played, an additional break occurs during which time one team switches sides to get better fields position despite it also being an annoying process that slows down their momentum.

When Are There More Than Four Quarters?

In professional football, NFL games are played in four 15-minute quarters. Each team is given a chance to score from the opposing team’s 25-yard line. If an NFL football game naturally goes into overtime, it begins with the current quarter and continues until a winner has been declared through scoring a touchdown during any three consecutive passing plays by one of the teams. A team can score a touchdown in college and high school football but doing so only ends the overtime period – not the entire game.

In football, the team that scores the most points at the end of a game wins. If a game continues into overtime it becomes known as “sudden death”. Besides, sudden death rules are often used in high school football. The team that wins the coin toss at the start of each overtime has a choice to whether kick or receive (which can be considered an advantage for a winning team).

 The team that is declared victorious after two equal halves of play is awarded one point in NFL games. In Canadian football, the winning team is awarded one point as well – however they are only awarded this specific point after a touchdown if it was scored in their opponent’s end zone. Obviously, they need to accomplish another feat prior to reaching the end zone first which is the goal line.

Why Do Some Football Games Have More Than 4 Quarters?

Why Do Some Football Games Have More Than 4 Quarters

In the last minutes of most football games, there will often be a tie between the two teams. During this time, the game goes into a 15-minute overtime period. The first team to score in this overtime wins the game! However, during an overtime period, all players from both teams get an opportunity to take part in the play. One of the teams may score a goal while another team has a fair chance of taking back control of the field and countering with their own goals. But until one team does so and successfully scores over their opponent, it becomes a tie at the end of regulation playtime. 

Football matches can be hard to predict. Many times when two teams are equally skilled, they will tie up at the end of regulation time. If a tie is reached in the final seconds of an overtime period, a field goal or touchdown again must be scored by either team while they simultaneously possess the ball. The 2-point conversion overtime period will start when the game has reached a tie score after both competing teams have attempted to score a goal e.g. reaching 8 on a bonus point system (7 goals, 1 extra).

Overtime periods continue until one team has scored, thereby ending the game and winning their opponents. To win, you must make sure that your possessions start on your own 35 yard line if you play Canadian football – but if you play in the United States under high school guidelines then you must score starting from your own 10 yard line.

What Happens When One Quarter Ends?

What Happens When One Quarter Ends

Two things happens when one quarter ends and they include:


In a regular football match, the first 15 minutes is intended for both teams to possess the ball. However, during the half-time break, both teams are required to switch from one end of the field to another. Players also tend to take some downtime before halftime starts and then again when it ends so as not to tire themselves out before even getting started with their next game strategy.


When the game begins, a new team takes possession of the ball for the first quarter. The rules also allow for teams to switch ends at halftime and to stay there for the second half. Possession can change numerous times throughout a game but only after a team scores points or a field goal or if they turn over the ball via interception or fumble. Each quarter represents 15 minutes worth of play time.


In conclusion, American football games have four 15-minute quarters separated by a 12-minute break at half time. There is also another 2 minute break at the end of every quarter, giving teams a chance to adjust and regroup before an upcoming 15 minute period. The clock stops for incomplete passes, out of bounds plays, penalties, injuries and the two-minute warning.

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