How Long is a Soccer Scrimmage? What to Expect?

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Scrimmage is an essential part of soccer training and development. But how long is a soccer scrimmage, and what should you expect when participating in one? This article dives into the details, offering insights into the typical duration, factors influencing its length, and what happens during these practice games.

how long is a soccer scrimmage

Understanding Soccer Scrimmages

Purpose of a Scrimmage

A soccer scrimmage serves multiple purposes. It’s an informal match that simulates real-game scenarios, helping players apply their training in a competitive environment.

Scrimmages provide valuable opportunities for coaches to assess players’ skills, tactics, and teamwork under less pressure than official matches.

Differences Between a Scrimmage and a Regular Game

While scrimmages are similar to regular games, they are generally more flexible. We can focus on specific training goals with the regulations changed, and the level of competition is typically lower. Scrimmages serve as instructional opportunities rather than organized competitions.

Typical Duration of a Soccer Scrimmage

Standard Length

The length of a soccer scrimmage can vary widely. Typically, scrimmages last 60 to 90 minutes, aligning with a soccer match’s standard duration. However, depending on the coach’s objectives, they can be shorter or longer.

Variations in Duration

Scrimmage length can differ based on the players’ age and skill level, the session’s specific goals, and logistical constraints. For instance, youth scrimmages might be shorter to accommodate the physical stamina of younger players.

Factors Influencing Scrimmage Length

Age Groups

Younger players, such as those in youth leagues, often have shorter scrimmages, typically around 30 to 60 minutes. This ensures the activities are age-appropriate and keeps the players engaged without overexertion.

Skill Levels

More advanced players may have longer scrimmages, including high school, college, and professional athletes. These can last up to 90 minutes or more, mirroring the length of an actual game to provide realistic practice conditions.

Specific Objectives

Coaches might extend or shorten scrimmages based on specific training objectives. For instance, a scrimmage focused on endurance might be longer, while one aimed at practicing quick plays and tactics might be shorter with more intense game periods.

Youth Soccer Scrimmages

Time Allocation

Short and entertaining are the goals of youth soccer scrimmages. Typically, these scrimmages last 30 to 45 minutes, ensuring young players stay focused and enthusiastic throughout the session.

Developmental Focus

For youth players, scrimmages emphasize basic skills, teamwork, and understanding the game flow. Coaches often use these scrimmages to teach the fundamentals of soccer in a fun and interactive way.

High School and College Scrimmages

Expected Duration

Scrimmages often last between 60 and 90 minutes at the high school and college levels. These sessions are more structured and mirror the intensity and length of actual matches to prepare players for competitive play.

Training Intensity

Scrimmages at this level focus on refining tactics, building team chemistry, and enhancing physical conditioning. Players are supposed to perform at levels almost competitive to the intensity.

Professional Soccer Scrimmages

Duration and Structure

Professional teams conduct scrimmages that vary in length but are typically around 90 minutes. These scrimmages are highly structured, focusing on specific tactical and strategic goals.

Tactical and Strategic Goals

Complex game plans, strategies, and formations are tested and implemented through professional scrimmages. Coaches use these sessions to fine-tune the team’s performance before official matches.

Game Format and Scrimmage Length

Full-Field Scrimmages

Full-field scrimmages mimic the conditions of an actual soccer match, utilizing the entire field and lasting up to 90 minutes. These are ideal for practicing overall team tactics and strategies.

Small-Sided Games

Small-sided scrimmages, involving fewer players and a smaller playing area, are typically shorter and last 20 to 30 minutes. These games focus on ball control, passing, and quick decision-making skills.

Breaks and Halftime in Scrimmages

Typical Break Times

Like regular matches, scrimmages often include breaks and a halftime period. A typical break lasts about 5 minutes, while halftime can be around 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the total length of the scrimmage.

Importance of Rest

Breaks and halftime are crucial for player recovery, hydration, and tactical discussions. They help maintain the intensity and quality of play throughout the scrimmage.

Preparation for a Soccer Scrimmage

Physical Readiness

Preparing for a scrimmage involves proper warm-up exercises to prevent injuries and ensure players are physically ready for intense activity. Stretching, jogging, and light drills are everyday warm-up activities.

Mental Preparation

Mental readiness is equally important. Players should maintain their upbeat attitude, concentrate on their objectives for the scrimmage, and be ready to use the techniques and abilities they have acquired in practice.

What Happens During a Soccer Scrimmage?

Game Play

During a scrimmage, players play typical soccer gameplay, including passing, dribbling, shooting, and defending. The game’s flow is continuous, with fewer stoppages than a formal match.

Coaching Interventions

Coaches often intervene during scrimmages to provide immediate feedback, make tactical adjustments, and address real-time issues. This hands-on approach helps players learn and improve more effectively.

Common Rules and Regulations

Adapting Official Rules

Scrimmages can be modified to meet the training goals while adhering to the fundamental soccer rules. For example, coaches might adjust the number of players, the size of the field, or the game’s duration.

Flexibility in Scrimmages

Scrimmages’ flexibility allows for creative and varied training sessions. Coaches can introduce specific challenges or scenarios to target particular skills or tactics.

Benefits of Soccer Scrimmages

Skill Development

Scrimmages are vital for skill development. They provide players with practical experience applying their training and help improve technical abilities, decision-making, and game awareness.

Team Cohesion

Regular scrimmages foster team cohesion and communication. Players learn to work together, understand each other’s playing styles, and build trust and camaraderie.

Challenges in Soccer Scrimmages

Common Issues Faced

Some common challenges in scrimmages include maintaining intensity, balancing playing time, and ensuring constructive feedback. These problems may have an impact on the scrimmage’s overall efficacy.

Overcoming These Challenges

Coaches can overcome these challenges by defining objectives, keeping players motivated, and providing positive feedback. Structured scrimmages with specific goals can also address these issues.


Soccer scrimmages are an integral part of player development and team training. They vary in length and structure based on age, skill level, and training objectives. Whether for youth players or professionals, scrimmages offer invaluable opportunities for skill improvement, tactical practice, and team building. Players and coaches can make the most of these practice games by understanding what to expect and how to prepare.


How often should teams have scrimmages?

Teams should aim to have scrimmages at least once a week, depending on their training schedule and competitive commitments.

Can scrimmages replace regular training sessions?

No, scrimmages supplement regular training sessions, practically applying skills learned during practice.

What should players focus on during scrimmages?

Players should focus on applying their training, improving their decision-making, and working on team dynamics during scrimmages.

How can coaches make scrimmages more effective?

Coaches can make scrimmages more effective by setting clear objectives, providing constructive feedback, and creating realistic game scenarios.

Are there specific scrimmage drills for improving performance?

Scrimmages can benefit from various drills to improve performance, including positional play workouts, small-sided games, and tactical scenarios.

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