How Many Periods In Basketball: What You Might Not Know?

A basketball match’s outcome depends entirely on the difference between the two teams’ performance over a specified time, which is “period.” However, understanding how it works and its definitions can be daunting for many sports fans, especially those new to watching the first games.

So, how many periods in basketball, and how long is a basketball game? Depending on the type of tournament, we have different answers for you. Scroll down to find out more useful information related to this topic!

How Many Periods In Basketball Make Up A Game?

World basketball today is often divided into three main categories: NBA, NCAA (for men and women), and college basketball. A basketball game typically has two halves of two periods each. The different players and conditions of the game are the leading cause of some adjustments in the rules of these types, resulting in a different number of periods in a game.


NBA games are divided into four periods (often called quarters), each 12 minutes long. After completing the first and third periods, the players get a quick two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half-minute breather. The break length depends on whether the game is nationally televised or not.

How many periods in basketball?

The NBA rules that a game will consist of four distinct periods, also known as “quarters” in some places. Each period is exactly 12 minutes long, and players can rest for 2.5-3.5 minutes each time the 1st and 3rd periods are over. The break time is flexible because it depends on whether the game is broadcast on national television.

The second half is over, and you’ll have a 15-minute halftime break before the third period begins. During this time, the two teams will take advantage of replenishing water, rest and discuss tactics.

NCAA Men’s

In the rule of College basketball men’s games, they only play in 2 periods instead of 4 periods like the NBA. This particular format requires players to have incredible endurance when there are not many rests during the match. Usually, after every 20 minutes players usually only have 15 minutes to rest and prepare for the next round.

Read more: Who Is The Goat Of Basketball

NCAA Women’s

The physical characteristics of women are different, leading to the rules of periods in women’s college basketball also having a specific difference compared to the type for men. As of the 2015-2016 NCAA women’s season, there are four ten-minute periods in a basketball game and a 15-minute break between periods. Overtime periods are 5 minutes long.

Before this change was implemented, the game duration for the NCAA women was identical to that of the men’s – 2 halves of 20 minutes!

High School Basketball

High school basketball also consists of 4 periods, like the NBA, which consists of only 8 minutes. Thus, the player has a total playing time of 32 minutes and is given a few minutes of rest between consecutive periods.

For those curious about how many periods are in college basketball specifically, it’s important to note that in NCAA men’s games, there are two 20-minute halves, whereas in NCAA women’s games, there are four 10-minute periods.

If the two teams are still undefeated after four periods, it’s time for extra time! During this time, the two teams will fight with all their might until a winner is found.

How Long Is A Basketball Game?

The time for a Basketball game.

Basketball time periods and the total duration of a game can vary significantly between different leagues and levels of play. For example, the length of an NBA game is different from that of a college basketball game.

If you regularly watch basketball games on TV, you will find that the time of a high school game is always much faster than an NBA game. A high school game can be over in an hour and a half, while an NBA game takes 2-2.5 hours to finish. The typical length of a basketball game, including all basketball periods and breaks, is an important aspect for fans and players alike. The reasons for this difference have been summarized below.

Number Of Minutes Quarters

As we analyzed in the game period section above, an NBA game has a total playing time of 48 minutes, split into four 12-minute quarters. Meanwhile, the men’s and women’s NCAA games lasted 40 minutes, and a high school basketball game only lasted 32 minutes. Usually, overtime periods rarely happen.

Regarding how many periods are in a basketball game, it varies depending on the level of play, with the NBA having four periods and NCAA basketball having either two or four, as mentioned earlier.

Although the time difference between the NBA and the NCAA is similar, you can see the difference when an NBA game is one and a half times longer than a high school basketball game.

TV Timeouts

The NBA tournament is so big that all its games are televised. Therefore, additional timeouts (commercial breaks) will be needed to run ads on TV.

What is a time out in basketball?

NCAA and high school basketball games rarely appear on television, except in exceptional circumstances (two shows on ESPN).

Number Of Timeouts

During an NBA game, the rule is that a team gets a total of 7 timeouts, where each timeout can be up to 75 seconds. NCAA is more special when there is 1 timeout of 60 seconds and 3 timeouts of 30 seconds. Meanwhile, high school basketball has 5 timeouts (2 of which are only 30 seconds).

Read more: How Many Players On A Basketball Team


If you are an avid basketball enthusiast, knowing the rules and regulations for a game will help you a lot while watching the game. So, how many periods are in basketball? Through this article, you will understand the answer and gain helpful information about total game time, half time, and what causes the difference in time between different tournaments.

See you in the following articles!

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter