How Long Is A Volleyball Game? Official Time Duration

How Long Is A Volleyball Game? Official Time Duration

Volleyball is an exciting sport played on sandy beaches, indoor courts, and grassy fields worldwide. It is a very high-intensity sport that captivates both players and spectators with its fast-paced action and dynamic gameplay. However, one common question among those new to the sport is, “How Long is a volleyball game ?” Unlike other sports with a fixed game time, the duration of a Volleyball match depends on many factors, such as the format of the match, level of play, rules being followed, and much more. 

In today’s blog, we will discuss how long is a volleyball game and the factors influencing its duration, from the standard game format to variations in playstyles and competition levels. But before that, let’s try to understand the game’s format. 

Understanding the Standard Game Format:

A traditional volleyball match consists of the best of five sets, with each set played to 25 points (in most cases), and teams must win by a margin of at least two points. Similarly, if a match extends to the maximum number of sets, which can be five sets, each requires significant time to complete. The winner is decided based on the total number of sets played and the number of sets won by each team. However, how long is a volleyball game depends on the competitiveness of the teams and the duration of each set. 

2 Out of 3 Format  

In this particular format, a team must win at least two sets to secure a win. These two sets usually consist of 25 points, and the third set, if required, consists of 15 points. This game structure is commonly employed in lower-school tournaments. This format balances duration and competitiveness, which is ideal for younger players’ development. It also encourages teams to strategize and adapt throughout the match.

The answer to how long is a volleyball game again depends on the number of sets played. For instance, in 2 out of 3 format, the game duration is usually 60-90 minutes. However, there is no time limit for each set. 

 3 Out of 5 Format 

In this particular format, a team must win at least three sets to secure a win. The teams attempt to reach 25 points in each set when playing the first four sets. However, they must reach 15 points in the fifth set to win the game. The game structure is employed in college and professional volleyball tournaments.

Answering the question, How long is a volleyball game? For 3 out of 5 formats, the duration can range from 90 to 150 minutes. However, the duration can vary due to factors such as rally length, timeouts, and game strategy. 

Best of 2 Format 

In this format, the teams play only two sets regardless of who wins. The sets can end with a 1-1 tie or 2-0. In the case of a tie, the team with the highest number of points in both sets is declared the winner. This structure is typically employed in tournaments with space or time constraints. But how long is a volleyball game in the best-of-2 format? On average, the games with only 2 or best of 2 sets last around 50-60 minutes, assuming 25 minutes per set. 

Factors Impacting Game Duration 

How long do Volleyball games last depends on several factors, including the level of the game, sets played, scoring system and many more. Let’s discuss some of the main factors in detail. 

1. Level of Play 

The level of play is a very important factor that determines how long is a volleyball game. For example, high school volleyball matches can last up to 2 hours, depending on the sets to be played. Similarly, college tournament volleyball matches can last for more than 2 hours, whereas professional tournament matches sometimes exceed 2.5 hours.

2. Rally Point System/ Scoring Format 

The scoring system in volleyball plays a very crucial part in determining how long is a volleyball game. It uses a rally point system to ensure the team gets one point on every serve, irrespective of which team serves. The average time for a single rally to complete usually ranges between 5-7 seconds, but in some cases, it can be completed in under one second. The rally point system was introduced in 1999 to determine how long volleyball games last. It ensures that a game is finished within a particular time frame decided by the authorities. 

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3. Time-Based Factors 

Several time-based elements also determine how long is a volleyball game. Time-outs, technical pauses, and intermissions between sets all extend the duration of gameplay. Although these breaks allow teams to regroup and strategize, they also contribute to the overall length of the match, particularly in closely contested games where strategic pauses can alter the course of play.  Some of the main time-based factors that impact the duration of the game are: 

#1 Substitutions

Substitution rules allow you to make changes between the matches. The team can substitute one player for another in rotational order. Typically, teams are allowed 18 maximum substitutions per set.

#2 Time-Outs

Time-outs play a very crucial role in determining how long is a volleyball game. It gives a chance to regroup and make strategies within 30 seconds of the interval. There is also a special time-out called as Technical Time-out. It occurs automatically at 8 and 16 points of each set. This rule is set by the International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB).

#3 Set Intervals

Set intervals indicate the duration between each set, which impacts the overall length of the match. Usually, set intervals are 3 minutes long. However, in competitive tournaments, it can extend upto 5 minutes for second and third sets. Overall, for a 5-set game, a total of 14 minutes of time is allotted. 

How Long do Volleyball Games Last? 

Now, if we have to answer, how long is a volleyball game? There is no fixed answer; it all depends on the game’s progression. Different rules for playing volleyball are employed at different levels of the game. On average, a single volleyball game lasts 60-90 minutes. However, in some cases, it can last upto 150 minutes if you are playing a game of 5 sets.


 In 2 out of 3 format, teams aim to win two sets, typically played to 25, 25, and 15 points. In 3 out of 5 format, they aim for three sets, also typically to 25 points.

Variances occur due to factors such as the level of play, number of sets, scoring format, timeouts, and strategic pauses.

Timeouts provide teams with 30-second breaks for strategy and technical timeouts at 8 and 16 points per set, extending the game duration.

The rally point system ensures each serve earns a point, speeding up play. Rallyes last 5 to 7 seconds on average and influence game pace.

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