One of the biggest changes from youth soccer to college and professional soccer was the halftime experience. It may sound small or silly, but halftime is actually a key point in the game, one that can become pivotal for either team.
But as a fan, coach, parent, new player, etc, you may be wondering about how exactly how this break time works in soccer.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know including:
- Halftime length for various levels
- What everyone does at halftime
- Player nutrition during the break
Keep reading to find out what halftime during a soccer game is all about including behind the scenes videos!
What Does Halftime Mean in Soccer?
The definition of half time is:
An intermission between halves of a game or contest (as in football or basketball)Merriam Webster
This definition holds true for soccer. Half time is the break period between two halves of the game in soccer.
What is half-time called in soccer?
Some sports may have a certain name for the break periods. However, there’s no special name for half-time in soccer. It’s simply referred to as “half time” by players, coaches, and spectators alike.
Alternatively, half time is called the intermission or break.
How Long is The Intermission in Soccer?
Exactly how long is halftime for a soccer game? For official matches, half time is 15 minutes long.
- How long is halftime in soccer UEFA matches?
- How long is halftime soccer Euro games?
- How long is halftime in soccer in the UK?
- How long is halftime in soccer the Olympics?
The answer to all of these questions is still 15 minutes long.
How Long is Half Time in Youth Soccer?
All sanctioned adult soccer games have 15-minute halftime, but what about youth soccer? And How long is halftime for high school soccer? Here’s a simple table breakdown of the length of the breaks for youth soccer:
|Age Group||Halftime Length|
|U9-U14||Usually 10 minutes|
|U15-U19||15 minutes maximum|
|High School Soccer||15 minutes|
What Happens During Halftime in Soccer?
Halftime during soccer is a well-coordinated “dance” just like in most other sports. Coaches, players, referees, field management, and fans all have their own separate tasks for what they do at halftime.
For example, a typical fan may leave their seat to use the bathroom or grab snacks. They may use the break to check their phones or take a photo. On the other hand, a coach may talk with the media.
Let’s take a closer look at what each party does during soccer halftime.
What do soccer teams do at halftime?
At halftime, soccer teams exit the field. They return to their bench area. For youth teams, they may not have a locker room. However, many college and professional teams do head back to the locker room.
The break is an opportunity for teams to collect themselves. They may talk about what is going well in the game, and what they need to resolve.
Part of their goal during halftime is to prepare for the next half, so many teams take the chance to discuss the game as needed.
What do players do during halftime?
Many players also use the break as a time to take care of their bodies. They may use the restroom, hydrate with water and sports drinks, eat a snack, visit the trainer, etc.
Each player may have his own routine during the halftime of a soccer game. Furthermore, what they do may depend on several factors, like the weather.
Some players may be interviewed while coming off of the field at halftime. Most often, the media interviews goal scorers, team captains, or standout players from the half. The Premier League recently started doing this more often to help engage fans at home.
Premier League players might be interviewed at half-time and cameras could be placed in dressing rooms as part of the league’s plans to revamp broadcasts in Project Restart.Daily Mail
Soccer is a long, physically demanding game, and halftime is a small opportunity to regenerate. Players do this in the way they need to most.
When weather is particularly cold or wet, players use this time to warm up. Some will change undergarments (like sports bras, spandex, socks, long sleeves, etc) when they are very wet/dirty. Others may sit by a heater, put on another jacket, or do something else to get comfortable.
Lastly, players will do what they need to mentally during halftime. For some, this is thinking about the first half and coming up with a plan. For others, it may be doing some deep breathing and meditation. Mental preparation is very personal.
Do soccer players eat during halftime?
As mentioned, some soccer players do eat during halftime. The reason for this is to re-fuel and prepare their bodies for the next half.
Soccer is a running-intensive game that also involves bouts of strength, contact, sprinting, change of direction, and more. In a typical 90-minute game, players can burn 1500-2000 calories.
While pre-match fueling is critical, halftime fueling is also helpful.
After the first half, carbohydrate stores will be well over halfway depleted. Therefore, it is crucial that energy and fluids are consumed during this time.Ted Munson, Performance nutritionist with Science in Sport
While it may be tempting to consume sugary energy drinks or snacks, these take too long to digest. One suitable option is an energy gel with fast-digesting carbohydrates.
What Do Soccer Coaches Do at Halftime?
Halftime is a critical time for soccer coaches. They get a chance to speak with all players and look to implement changes for the second half.
Much like players, coaches must often speak with the media during the break. They may be asked about a goal they scored or conceded, about any injuries, or about their thoughts of the game so far.
After potentially talking with the media, coaches often talk with each other. They will discuss what they want to say in the locker room.
They will also determine a plan for substitutes, like whether they will make any changes to the starting 11 for the second half, or wait to make certain strategic subs later in the gym.
Once they’ve chatted with each other, coaches head to the locker room (or bench area) to talk with their team. What they say depends greatly on the way the game is going and their cochin style.
Typically, they will discuss what’s going well, what needs to change, and any specifics on how the team can improve.
Ralf Rangnick At Half Time – Manchester United Interim Manager
Take a look at the interim manager’s halftime team talk before joining Manchester United. The German tries a different approach to get the players focused on the next half.
Real Madrid At Half Time
One of the biggest games in soccer is the European Champions League Final. Here’s a video clip, leaked from the Real Madrid half-time team talk.
Although you’ll need to read the subtitles, the coache’s speech from ex-legend player Zinedine Zidane made a massive difference and led to their victory;
What Do Soccer Referees Do at Halftime?
Halftime is also a break time for the referees. Keep in mind the referees must run to keep up with players, up to 12 miles per game according to U.S. Soccer Federation data.
The first thing the referees must do when they blow their whistle is to start their timer for halftime. Even if there is a scoreboard, referees keep their own time.
Once they have the time started, the refs may get a drink of water, add a pair of gloves, or do anything else they need to do to be best prepared for the next half.
Much like players and coaches, referees may take the break time as an opportunity to discuss the game. They might talk about any players to pay close attention to, or strategies for dealing with heated coaches.
For referees, the break must end a bit earlier. They need to be back on the field and ready when they summon the teams back.
What Do Fans Do at Halftime?
Soccer fans also take advantage of the halfway intermission. Whether they are at home or in the stadium, they may take the chance to get food/water, use the bathroom, and discuss the game with other spectators.
Why Do They Water the Soccer Field at Halftime?
There’s one more party to consider for soccer halftime, the groundskeepers. Of course, youth games may not have a dedicated groundskeeper at the game. The highest level professional events likely do.
The groundskeepers are there to help keep the field in its best shape possible. Think about the guys who drive around the Zambonis during hockey halftime. They do this to smooth out the ice and ensure it’s safe and fast for players.
Luckily we don’t play soccer on ice, however, turf or grass can still use a little halftime TLC.
During halftime, the groundskeepers often scan the field for any imperfections. They may look to fill in any major holes/ divots, secure the goal nets, fix the flags, etc.
However, one of the most common things you’ll see them do is water the soccer field during the break. So, why do they do this?
For one, they likely watered the field before the game as well. Essentially, watering the field (grass or turf) helps the ball move quicker.
After an entire half of play, a lot of the moisture is gone from the first watering. Just like the Zamboni drivers need to smooth over the ice after skates slice through it, a soccer groundskeeper must re-water after the first half.
Simply put, soccer halftime is 15 minutes for official adult competitions. For youth soccer games, it may be shorter, around 5-10 minutes depending on the age, referee, and competition.
The role this break plays, for coaches, players, refs, fans, and groundskeepers is a vital one. How teams handle their halftime plays a huge role in their ability to come out strong in the second half. That’s why many players will eat a snack, refuel, stretch, and pump each other up during halftime.
Now that you know the ins and outs of this crucial 15-minute break in soccer, you can enjoy the game with that much more insight. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a game in person, make the most of halftime while also remembering what the teams you’re watching are doing during this time!