How Long Are High School Soccer Games

How Long are High School Soccer Games

Your Guide

Alex Waite Alex Waite

  • High School Soccer Games Are 80 Minutes in Total.
  • Matches at Under-15 to Under-16 Level (Ages 14-16) Are Made up of Two 40-Minute Halves.  
  • High School Matches Are Shorter to Help With Player Development and Stamina in Preparation for 90-Minute Soccer Games.

High school soccer games consist of two 40-minute halves, which make up an 80-minute match.

This rule comes from the United States Youth Soccer Association’s guidance in the ‘US Youth Soccer Policy on Players and Playing Rules.

Knowing THE LENGTH of a soccer game is important for players, coaches, and fans.

However, the players are at somewhat of a disadvantage as they are not completely aware of the game time on the field.

In my playing days, I would often pester the referee at regular intervals.

As a former captain of some teams, I felt it was my responsibility to keep track of the time and game situation and relay this to my teammates.

But, I also felt this was completely necessary as, in the thick of the PLAYING ACTION, you often have little idea of how long is left in a soccer match. 

Although, younger players I have coached since care less about the game time.

Mostly, youth soccer players just want to get on the pitch and play the game.

In this sense, it is strange that high school soccer matches are shorter.

It seems an ample opportunity for young soccer players to enjoy the game for the full 90 minutes and to develop their skills. 

But, there are reasons why high school soccer matches are 80 minutes and not 90, like a senior 11-a-side game.

In this article, we explore the length of high school soccer matches and explain some of the reasoning about why games are shorter at the youth level.

How Long is a High School Soccer Games?

As the US Youth Soccer rules state, games for players between under-15 and under-16 levels should be 80-minutes long. 

Although, Part Three of the rules also has information about overtime, which should last for two 15-minute halves, totaling 30 minutes.

This is more in line with a full senior match, where extra time is 30 MUNUTES TOO.

However, overtime is rare in youth soccer as it only applies to cup competitions where a knockout match ends in a draw. 

Also, the rules blend some elements of the IFAB ‘Laws of the Game’, specifically if a match goes to penalties.

In such cases, the “FIFA “Kicks from the Penalty Mark” rules apply to determine the winner.”

The rules in Part Three also have some discretions too.

For instance, US Youth Soccer or individual State Soccer Associations can make exemptions for the length of matches.

This could be made in a pre-match agreement between coaches and the referee.

When I played at the youth level, one of my matches was cut short because the players wanted to finish in time to watch the FA Cup final.

Such cases are very rare, but clubs, referees, and leagues do have the power to determine the length of youth soccer matches. 

Despite the grey area where, technically, leagues can set their time limits for matches.

But coaches I have worked with within the UK, who spent time coaching in the US, have never reported matches going beyond the length of the US Youth Soccer rules. 

In discussions on match length, colleagues have often mentioned the pointlessness of straying from the official guidance as it does not help player development.

For example, making 14-year-olds play an additional ten minutes of a competitive match is unlikely to help develop any new skills. 

When Do High Scool Players Progress to 90-Minute Matches?

Ultimately, high school soccer matches last for 80-minutes for two seasons, during under-15 and under-16 levels. 

Once a player is aged 16, or they reach the under-17 level, then they move up to the full 90-minute matches, made up of two 45-minute halves.

This rule remains for the rest of a player’s career.

The only exception is when players take part in different soccer formats, like 5-a-side or drop-down soccer, where the rules are LESS RIGID.

Why are High School Soccer Games Shorter?

A lot of young soccer players I have coached between the ages of 14 and 16 seem ready for 90-minute matches on the surface.

But, when they eventually start playing 90-minute games, it becomes clear that there are developmental reasons for shorter games at the high school level. 

For example, I have seen some players struggle to pace themselves and give everything in the first 60-70 minutes, only to blow out in the final third of a game.

In rare cases, I have seen injuries from over-exertion and tired legs, ultimately affecting players’ development.

As a result, high school soccer games are shorter as part of PLAYER DEVELOPMENT.

This eventually leads to match readiness when soccer players reach the 90-minute THRESHOLD.

Players need time to build up stamina in soccer and gradually increasing the competitive, on-field playing time is a good way to support player stamina.

What Is the Minimum Number of Players That Can Play On One Soccer Team?

Individual Competition, Age Group, or Regional Governing Body Regulations. 

Your Guide

Alex Waite Alex Waite

  • Seven Is the Minimum Number of Players Allowed on a Soccer Team.
  • If a Team Fields Less Than Seven Players at Any Time During a Match, It Will Be Abandoned by the Referee.
  • Minimum Player Numbers Vary Depending on Regional Rules and Individual Competition Rules (e.g. 5-A-Side Soccer and Casual Matches). 

There must be a minimum of SEVEN PLAYERS PER TEAM on a football pitch for a soccer match to go ahead. 

According to the 2021-22 International Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game, “a match may not start or continue if either team has fewer than seven players.”

In addition, the rules state that there must be a maximum of 11 players per team, including one goalkeeper FOR EACH SIDE.

However, this rule only applies to men’s senior football.

Rules may vary depending on:

  • Individual Competition
  • Age Group, or
  • Regional Governing Body Regulations

It is extremely rare for a team of seven to play against a team of 11, especially in professional soccer.

However, at the amateur level, this is MORE COMMON than you think.

When I have coached soccer teams at youth and senior levels, some players have not shown up on matchdays (especially in the cold, wet winter months).

LUCKILY, I have always managed to field a team, even when I once had to borrow one of the opposition’s players, who turned out to be our Man of the Match that day!

In this article, we look at why seven is the magic number for a minimum number of soccer players on the field.

We also highlight some further rules related to soccer team numbers. 

Why Is the Minimum Number of Players on a Soccer Team Seven?

There is no official reason or explanation about why there should be a minimum of seven players on a soccer team.

However, it is likely that any less than seven players would be TOO MUCH of a disadvantage for one team.

As a result, the referee can stop playing in the interest of sportsmanship.

In professional soccer, it is unlikely that teams will ever have less than 11 players to field.

Many professional teams have huge numbers of backup and youth players.

As a result, they could technically field an 11-person team for any fixture. 

Alternatively, things are different at the youth and amateur levels.

Over the years, I have seen and heard stories from clubs where teams end up playing 6v9 or 8v10 when there aren’t enough players.

Often, in such instances, the team’s coaches consult with the referee and, if the two sides are happy to go ahead, the match is played. 

Although these examples would counter the IFAB laws, they are often decided in the interest of sportsmanship and fun, rather than a professional judgment. 

What Happens if There Are Less Than Seven Players on a Soccer Team?

In the unfortunate event that a team has less than seven players, the referee will abandon the match. 

Usually, an abandoned match is replayed at a later date, unless the regional, national or international governing bodies make alternative arrangements.

Some examples of alternative outcomes include awarding the result to one team or voiding the fixture. 

In November 2021, during a Portuguese Primeira Liga match between Benfica and Belenenses, the referee abandoned the fixture after halftime.

Due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad, Belenenses started the match with just nine players, before three more withdrew due to injury.

When Belenenses went down to six players, the referee enforced the IFAB laws and called off the match shortly after halftime. 

Another extreme example comes from English soccer when Sheffield United vs West Brom turned into the ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ in 2002. 

During this Championship clash, referee Eddie Wolstenholme was the first official to abandon an English professional match because one team had fewer than seven players.

Throughout the match, tensions were high and both teams committed huge numbers of aggressive fouls.

Eventually, Sheffield United had three players sent off. In addition, two of their players came off with injuries.

With eight minutes left to play, Wolstenholme abandoned the match. 

In this instance, because Sheffield United was seen as the main leader of aggression in the match, West Brom was awarded a 3-0 win and three points. 

What Is the Minimum Number of Players for Other Forms of Soccer Matches?

Different forms of soccer have different rules.

For instance, small-sided games, such as five-a-side and seven-a-side, differ from 11-a-side.

As a result, minimum numbers of players for small-sided games have no unified rules to follow.

Instead, regional soccer associations and bodies SET THEIR OWN laws of the game.

Growing up in London, playing small-sided soccer was a hobby for me between competitive training and matches.

After school and work, casual small-sided games in parks, on the street, or on concrete pitches were part of the soccer culture. 

However, we didn’t have rules on team numbers.

Sometimes we would have teams of 5v6, 2v3, 4v5, etc. as the numbers didn’t really matter.

Whoever showed up next would join the team WITH THE LEAST players to level the playing field. 

Furthermore, casual soccer matches are played internationally.

Whether on the beaches of Brazil or the concrete pitches in Europe, conventional codes and game laws DO NOT APPLY.

As a result, any number of players can technically play a drop-down game of soccer.

This can range from 2v2 or 20v20 and it is more about inclusivity rather than abiding by the exact laws of the game. 

You’re Running Down the Soccer Field When You Develop a Side Stitch; What Should You Do

You’re Running Down the Soccer Field When You Develop a Side Stitch; What Should You Do

Your Guide

Alex Waite Alex Waite

  • Slow Down, Take Deep Breaths, Apply Pressure and Keep Upright if You Develop a Side Stitch.
  • Trying to Prevent a Stitch by Taking Precautions Before a Match. This Is Easier Than Managing a Stitch.
  • There Are Two Theories About Why Stitches Occur When Athletes Exercise. 

If you develop a stitch whilst playing soccer, take DEEP BREATHS, apply pressure to the area and KEEP UPRIGHT.

These are some of the most important tips. But, the main thing to do is to KEEP CALM and try to get your BREATHING PATTERN NORMAL.

Recognizing what a stitch is is important in helping to eliminate it.

I have seen soccer players think they are in severe danger of having heart palpitations when in fact, they just have a stitch.

However, if you are in bad discomfort, go down and ask to be substituted off the pitch. 

According to advanced practice nurse Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., a stitch is “pain felt on either side of your abdomen.

It’s more commonly reported on THE RIGHT SIDE.

Symptoms may range from CRAMPING or a DULL ACHE to a pulling sensation or a sharp, stabbing pain.”

Ultimately, the severity of stitches varies.

As a teenage soccer player, I could eat half a meal an hour before a game, get a stitch and run it off.

However, as I continued playing at a higher pace and standard of soccer, stitches were harder to shake off.

This required some adaptations and awareness of how to continue playing whilst trying to subside a pain in my side.

More often than not, players can get rid of stitches whilst remaining on the pitch. I

n this article, we outline some of the top tips to help get rid of a stitch when running down the pitch.

We also provide advice on how to prevent a stitch from occurring. 

What to Do When You Get a Stitch on the Soccer Pitch?

Firstly, it is important NOT TO PANIC.

Some players OVERREACT and fear the worst when they have any injury.

However, this is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE and can cause unnecessary concern and panic.

When people become anxious, their breathing pace increases and their heart rate rises.

This will not help to get rid of any injury quicker, let alone a stitch. 

Once you recognize it’s a stitch you are experiencing, follow our advice below on how to help subside the discomfort.

1) Take Deep Breaths

Deep, controlled breathing pushes down on the diaphragm (the affected area during a side stitch).

By regulating breathing and TAKING LONGER INHALES, players can relieve some of the pressure.

In soccer matches, this can be difficult as the fast pace of the game leads to faster heart rates and faster breathing.

In the past, I have seen players sit down and take their time once they have a stitch rather than try to keep pushing through and running a stitch off.

This is a good strategy as it allows the player to fully recover rather than make the issue worse. 

2) Apply Pressure to the Area Affected

PRESSING DOWN GENTLY on the SIDE where the stitch is happening can also help to manually relieve the pressure.

Again, this is not always a practical mid-match.

However, do not be afraid to go down with an injury rather than try to push through the pain. 

3) Stretch

Gently moving the affected side during a stitch can ease the pressure. For instance, if the pain is around the left side, try arching your left hand over your head towards your right side. You should feel a stretch in your left abdomen and around the ribs. Continue this for a few minutes and the pain can ease. 

4) Keep Upright and Keep Moving Gently

If the stitch is uncomfortable, come off the pitch, keep standing and talk a gentle stroll away from the pitch.

Whilst doing this, concentrate on DEEP BREATHS and apply some pressure to the area. 

Coming off the pitch and taking time to calmly regain composure will help to speed up the recovery rather than forcing through the pain.

In my experience, as is the case with any injury, playing through the pain almost always has long-term effects. 

After heavy stitches whilst playing, I have seen players continually holding their side for hours after a match.

Others have no appetite and some can’t even handle drinking water because of the pressure on their side.

Sometimes, thinking about your health is more important than the pride of staying on the pitch. 

How to Prevent a Stitch When Playing Soccer?

Stitches develop for numerous reasons.

These include eating too soon before:

  • Exercise
  • Eating Too Quickly
  • Being Dehydrated
  • Over-Exerting Too Quickly and
  • Poor Posture

Ultimately, preventing a stitch from developing is easier, more manageable, and less painful than dealing with the pain during a match.

Here are some tips to try and prevent a soccer stitch. 

i) When and What Are You Eating?

Regularly, I see players eat RIDICULOUS MEALS before matches.

I have seen players DEVOUR a sandwich, chips, a sausage roll, and even a FULL English BREAKFAST.

Sometimes, this would be an hour or less before a match!

Unsurprisingly, they would head out onto the pitch only to be back in the changing room 20 minutes later with a stitch.

Heavy food anytime leading up to a match is a BIG NO.

Avoid food that is hard to digest and swap this for MORE HEALTHY, LIGHT OPTIONS.

Also, consider a routine diet around your soccer activity. Christopher R. Mohr, Ph.D. has several helpful tips on what and when to eat for athletes of all abilities in his sports nutrition article. 

Usually, when I have an early morning match, I would get up early, have a light breakfast, then keep hydrated until the match.

I also ate fruit, such as oranges and bananas just before or during a game to keep my GLUCOSE LEVELS HIGH.

This worked for me, but each player will have their routines and habits to help improve performance and prevent those pesky stitches. 

ii) Keep Hydrated

Being hydrated during a soccer match is essential to performance…

..But, drinking the right amount of water is also key as too much liquid can lead to bloating and a side stitch. 

In the hot summer months during pre-season training, I and my teammates were always encouraged to DRINK WATER.

Scheduled breaks would help to keep topping up water levels.

However, when playing soccer in 30-degree heat, you often drink more than your body can handle.

This would lead to uncomfortable feelings in the stomach and eventually create cramps in the abdomen and side. 

Therefore, think about topping up with regular sips rather than drinking liters and liters of water to ward off those unwanted stitches.

iii) Don’t Skip the Warm-up

In soccer, players need to combine static and mobile warm-ups before matches and practice.

Static warm-ups are based on stretching the muscles.

Mobile warm-ups help to get oxygen moving through the body through gentle jogging, for example. 

These activities prepare your body for more vigorous activities during high-intensity matches and training.

But, they can also prevent side stitches.

In particular, stretching the muscles around your diaphragm can help to prevent a stitch. 

iv) Pace Yourself

Getting caught up in the heat of a match is a BIG MENTAL CHALLENGE for soccer players at all levels.

I remember playing in important cup matches, League Title Deciders, Relegation Dogfights, and Simple Local Rivalries.

In these instances, going on to the pitch with a level head is challenging, but it is essential.

So many times, especially when coaching youth teams, I have seen players become too relaxed with their warm-up then try to start the match at 100% performance.

Simply put, this is impossible for any soccer player, and taking time to get into the flow of a match is important.

It also helps to prevent overexertion and injury, including stitches.

Your body will not be ready to go from near static to full mobility in an instant. 

What Is a Stitch and How Is It Caused?

According to health writer Jane Chertoff, in an article peer-reviewed by Dr. Deborah Weatherspoon there are two theories about how side stitches occur.

However, the exact cause is still unknown. 

  1. Blood in Diaphragm: Too much blood can move to the diaphragm causing pain and strain in the side. 
  2. Lining of Abdominal and Pelvic Cavity: Irritation and friction of this area can happen during intense physical activity. As a result, this can cause more specific, local pains, like in the shoulder. 

Goals Galore: What Is GF in Soccer?

What Is GF in Soccer?

Your Guide

Alex Waite Alex Waite

  •  ‘GF’ in Soccer Stands for ‘Goals for’, Referring to the Number of Goals a Team Scores Throughout a Season.
  • A Team’s GF Is Tallied Throughout a Season and Their Total Is Shown in the League Table. 
  • The Total Goals Scored by a Team Are Vital in Soccer. It Can Impact Their League Position at the End of the Season. 

GF in soccer stands for ‘Goals For’.

This is shown in a league table to show how many goals a team has scored during the season.

GF can also be used in group stages in competitions like the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

Years ago, as a young soccer enthusiast, I was completely unaware of how league tables worked.

This was made even harder when following English soccer.

There are five national leagues and 14 further semi-professional leagues in English soccer. 

Yet, I VIVIDLY REMEMBER watching the scores on Teletext and then seeing the league tables after the final whistle on a Saturday afternoon.

Initially, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the data presented IN FRONT OF ME.

I simply knew Man United would generally be near the top of the Premier League.

In comparison, my team, Crystal Palace FC, would be NEAR THE BOTTOM of whatever league they were in.

But understanding WHY was confusing. 

With help from my equally soccer-mad friends and family, I learned about all the numbers and their abbreviations.

This includes GF, ‘Goals For’. At the time, it helped me understand the league standings more thoroughly.

But, in the long-term, understanding abbreviations like GF helped me understand how some in-game situations in soccer would have a bearing on the outcome of a league table.

Below, we explain what GF is in soccer.

But we also highlight why it is an important abbreviation to understand when fans are following or playing soccer AT ANY LEVEL.

What Is the Point of GF in Soccer?

Like me when I was a young soccer fan, you may be thinking, what is the point of GF?

Why keep track of how many goals a team scores across the season?

GF in soccer keeps track of how many goals an individual team scores in a single season or competition.

In the rules of some soccer competitions and leagues, the number of goals scored CAN DETERMINE final positions. 

If two teams battling for the league title have the same number of points, and the same goal difference (or GD), then the number of goals they have scored can be used to determine THE WINNER. 

In the 2011/12 Premier League season, the closest-ever goal difference margin decided the eventual winners of the league…

..Man City JUST EDGED their rivals, Man United, to the Premier League title as they had a +64 goal difference, compared to United’s +56 goal difference. 

However, the official Premier League rules changed recently. Instead of using GD, head-to-head results are used TO FINALIZE team positions under rule 17.

This means that the team with the most wins against their rivals will determine the eventual winner of the league.

This can also apply to relegation places as teams with the worse head-to-head results may get relegated. 

Most GF in Soccer History

The title for most GF in top soccer leagues goes to Real Madrid who scored 121 goals in the 2011/12 season. 

Soccer can be enjoyed for its tactical depth.

For instance, I enjoy watching an underdog team digging in defensively and scoring one goal on the counter-attack as much as I enjoy one team scoring five goals per game. 

One of my favorite games was when Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 at Parkhead in the Champions League.

Celtic had 27% possession and five shots but still won.

However, many would rather see Barcelona win 5-0 in this instance because goals equal entertainment, a view that I totally accept also. 

Ultimately, netting goals at the top level of soccer is no mean feat and VERY FEW TEAMS have surpassed the 100 goals mark in the leading soccer leagues.

Below are some of the highest-scoring teams in some of the most competitive soccer leagues in the world. 

In Which Country Is Baseball More Popular Than Soccer

In Which Country Is Baseball More Popular Than Soccer

Your Guide

Alex Waite Alex Waite

  • Baseball Was Invented in the United States and Its Popularity Grew in the Late 19th Century.
  • As Us Expansion Began Into Central America in the Early 20th Century, Explorers and Industrialists Introduced the Sport to Countries Like Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
  • Soccer Has Lagged Behind in the United States and Only Gained Widespread Attention When Major League Soccer Began in the 1996 Season. 

Baseball is more popular than Soccer in the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • the Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Venezuela and
  • Japan

Although soccer is the most popular global sport by a long stretch, with an estimated 4 billion fans.

Baseball is played more often and supported more in specific countries and regions due to a range of SOCIAL and HISTORICAL FACTORS.

For me, soccer was always the most talked about, most played and MOST ENJOYED SPORT from my childhood.

In fact, its presence was everywhere in British culture.

From adverts on the television to drop-down games played in school playgrounds and on neighborhood streets, soccer was ALMOST UNAVOIDABLE to an extent. 

In different countries and cultures, other sports are more prevalent, which is why they become more popular in these societies.

When I have visited other continents and countries, most of which have been in continental Europe and South America, the presence of soccer is everywhere.

Much like the UK, small soccer pitches are built into concrete estates, in the favelas of Brazil and some form of soccer is shown in bars EACH DAY. 

For baseball, similar histories exist, but they stem from the US instead.

When soccer spread around the world as part of British industrialization, baseball followed a similar path after its invention in the US in the late 18th century.

In this article, we highlight some countries where baseball is more popular than soccer and we compare the popularity of each sport. 

Why is Baseball More Popular Than Soccer in the United States?

As baseball was invented in the US, it is no surprise that the sport is more popular here compared to soccer.

Early, informal games of baseball were played since the 1700s when English colonists brought rounders and cricket to the US.

The two games were blended to create baseball in the late 18th century.

By the time of the American Revolution, baseball was played in major cities, mostly on the East Coast where many British colonists landed.

Then, the game went from strength to strength and the first codified set of rules was created in September 1845.

A group of New York City men who founded the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club came together to improve the gameplay and structure of baseball.

Eventually, Major League Baseball began in 1869, and the sport has been a favored pastime, particularly on the East Coast, ever since.

By comparison, Major League Soccer didn’t begin until 1996, the first time soccer was given a NATIONAL AUDIENCE and platform in the US. 

Although soccer has been unable to compete with MLB for around 150 years, there are signs that the tide is shifting.

Soccer is reportedly becoming more popular and a 2018 survey by American analytics company, Gallup, found that 9% of participants had baseball as their favorite sport, while 7% chose soccer.

How Did Baseball Become More Popular Than Soccer in Japan and Central America?

US culture, including sports like baseball, was introduced into Central America in the early 20th century.

Military personnel, explorers, and business people working in this region brought a piece of home WITH THEM.

Also, the conditions in these countries and regions suited a slower-paced sport like baseball rather than an INTENSELY physical sport like soccer.

The same happened in Japan after the end of World War II as military GIs and overseas workers continued to play baseball when stationed in the country.

However, baseball was already popular in Japan as the aims of the sport suited the Japanese philosophy of teamwork, making it a popular team sport before the US influence from 1945 onwards.

This introduction of baseball has had a POSITIVE EFFECT in these countries.

It is the most popular sport in countries like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Japan.

Alternatively, the reach of British and European colonists, who introduced soccer to new countries and regions, had VERY LITTLE INFLUENCE on the central American countries or Japan. 

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