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Does Soccer Have Timeouts?

Does Soccer Have Timeouts?

Soccer is a unique sport that follows the guidelines of The Laws of Game to run its affairs. The rules that apply to the running and stoppage time of each game are contained in Law 7: The Duration of the Match. Timeouts are a short period that allows players to rest during a match or to handle other pressing matters.

Unlike what is generally permissible in soccer, timeouts are a major feature in some other sports. Since soccer is a generic name and all-inclusive of its variants (with some having defined timeouts), in this article, we examine if timeouts are a feature in soccer. If they are, we’ll look closely at which of the soccer variants has it officially in its gameplay.

Does Soccer Have Timeouts?

No, it doesn’t. To better understand this, what are timeouts in sports generally? This is an intentional stoppage of play to either avoid sanctions for delay of play violation, strategic communication to players from coaches, or for media commercial breaks.

Here's how stoppage time works at the end of soccer games

Are Timeouts Allowed In Soccer?

No, timeouts are not allowed in soccer. Abiding by the rules that govern soccer gameplay, the referee indicates when and allows for a 15-minute rest break after the first half of the game (45 minutes). The total duration of a game in soccer is 90 minutes.

However, there are instances when the referee halts the game before the designated time. This can be due to injury, goal uncertainty, the substitution of players, etc. Players can utilize this limited opportunity to rest and take water breaks.

This stoppage is not the same as a timeout because the clock never truly stops. Match officials will decide upon acceptable additional minutes to include in each half, to compensate for the unforeseen delays. That’s why you’ll notice, sometimes, that the match referee hasn’t blown the whistle even when the first half has run for over 45 minutes.

This will take us to examine what’s obtainable in the many variations of soccer, with regards to timeouts.

Indoor Soccer

Indoor soccer is a kind of soccer that involves only 10 players, 5 from each team (5v5) and it’s played in a small setting like a basketball court.

The game has a running duration of 40 minutes. This is inclusive of timeouts and half-time. The timeouts rules in indoor soccer are highlighted below:

  • Timeouts are only allowed for 60 seconds
  • To be allowed to be taken, a timeout must be requested before the ball is out of play
  • The team requesting for a timeout must have the ball when the game resumes
  • Both teams can utilize one timeout on each half
  • There is no carry-over of timeouts that aren’t used during each half or extra time
Differences Between Futsal and Football

High school soccer

The laws governing high school soccer are similar to the rules governing professional soccer. In the United States, the National Collegiate Athletic Association governs the affairs of high school soccer which is similar to the Laws of the Game. So, no, there are no timeouts in high school soccer.

  • 11vs11

This is otherwise known as professional soccer. It’s the popular soccer we are familiar with which involves 11 players from each team on preferable formations. We spoke extensively above about timeouts.

To reiterate, professional soccer (11vs11) does not have timeouts incorporated in its gameplay.

  • 9vs9

Unlike what is obtainable in professional, high school, and college soccer, 9vs9 soccer (a type of youth soccer) doesn’t have a general governing body. In trying to stay closely related to soccer, it abides mostly by the Laws of the Game.

With this, timeouts are not officially allowed in a 9vs9 game. Breaks are given, like in professional soccer, to allow for substitution. Taking the young age of its players into consideration, the 9vs9 refused to acknowledge timeouts in its games.

AJAX 9v9 Game Playing out from the back

Street Soccer

Each half consists of 7 minutes of gameplay, and just a minute between each half. Timeouts are not allowed in street soccer. 

The reason for this is easy to figure out, especially since the total duration of play is not up to 20 minutes.

Beach Soccer

Beach soccer has a unique three period game formation. Each period lasts for 12 minutes – making a combined 36 minutes for a game.

Unlike what’s obtainable in professional soccer, the match referee doesn’t decide when the game ends. The match clock runs down and not up. The end of the game is decided by a timekeeping official.

A 30-second timeout is permitted for each team. During this time out, the timekeeping official will not stop the clock.

Regular stoppages for substitution are accounted for. The timekeeping official stops the clock’s countdown during any other stoppage that’s not a timeout.

Beach Soccer - Laws of the Game

Why Are There No Timeouts In Soccer?

Since every sport is regulated and governed by laws, The Laws of the Game (the official laws of soccer) have made timeouts illegal in soccer.

Coaches, however, are allotted a 15-minute break after the first half to communicate and interact with players. When a match drags into extra time, a minute break is officially allowed to drink water and change sides, after the first half of extra time (usually 15 minutes for each half).

The answer to the question is quite simple. Soccer has, since its invention, experienced several years of evolution. In all of its growth, timeouts have never been included as a gameplay feature professionally.

If we allow our minds to wander, we could somehow agree that timeouts would greatly enhance play. This would be because coaches can request to halt gameplay to change formations and tactics, as it affects the dynamics of the game.

Bringing our minds back from its wanderings, soccer remains one of the best sports because it has no timeouts. Games are played with skill, experience, and total commitment, all within 90 minutes.

This brings us right about when timeout is allowed in soccer.

Going by the definition of a timeout as it relates to sports, it doesn’t exist in soccer. However, match referees allow breaks for different reasons.

A noticeable break will be for the player’s substitution. Gameplay would have to stop, most times, to allow for substitution.

Cooling breaks were first introduced, in professional soccer, in 2014. Players are officially allowed to take cooling breaks for a period not exceeding one minute. This again does not count officially as timeouts in soccer.

FIFA: 1st cooling break in history of World Cup

So how and where does soccer have timeouts?

The timeouts for soccer only occur when a player is injured, a goal is scored, there’s a substitution or there’s a little break for hydration.

Professional soccer does not have timeouts. Futsal, on the other hand, allows for a 60-second timeout for each team in each half. This is possible because the laws that govern the game permits it.

Soccer conducts its timeouts in the field during some stoppages issued by the referee.

Players are only allowed to exit the field or be away from the watching eyes of the match referee during halftime break (15-minute rest after the first half).

As much as timeouts may seem logical, there are lots of benefits attached to not having timeouts in soccer. Some of these include:

  • Less interruption in the game

Soccer is a sport that allows for as many possible goals to be scored. While goals are often celebrated, the build-up takes time and calculations. Timeouts will interrupt the natural flow of the building gameplay.

  • It helps the players think for themselves

When players experience some lapses from the coach’s strategy, instead of calling a timeout, they can come up with a strategy between themselves.

Although soccer rules allow coaches to gesticulate strategies to players, no timeouts will allow players to adapt to the gameplay without always relying on coaches for every move.

  • Only fit players can survive

Soccer can be very demanding and hectic and requires only healthy players to partake in it for 90 minutes without timeouts. Substitutions are allowed but the allowable number would mean certain players would have to play the entire duration of 90 minutes.

Like most things with benefits, there are also possible drawbacks to not having timeouts in soccer. Here are some of these possible drawbacks:

  • The coach can’t reach out to his team during play

When coaches realize that there are shortcomings with the team play, strategy, and tactics, they can’t reach out to them during play. He’s at the mercy of having eye contact with a player and tries to relay coded messages to pass along to his other teammates.

  • The players can’t reach out to the coach during play

A player might have discovered something that will help the team win the game and the best person to analyze and organize the play is the coach. Unfortunately, he is not allowed to do that during this period of play.

  • No leisure time during play

Playing for 45 minutes non-stop with running, jumping, attacking, defending, etc. can be very exhausting. A slip-up from a player in his allocated field position could lead to a goal.

association football don't have timeouts

Can Coaches Call Timeouts In Soccer?

No, coaches can’t call for timeouts in a soccer match. The rules of soccer do not allocate such powers to coaches to interrupt gameplay. However, there are instances where the referee gives a break for players to get hydrated.

When the referee temporarily stops the game so an injured player can be medically attended to, it takes some time before the player is taken off the field.

However, this is the ideal moment for the coach to communicate with his team when they come close to the technical area for water breaks. This is allowed as long as the player doesn’t cross over the touchline without the match referee’s permission.

How Many Timeouts Do You Have In Soccer?

Generally, soccer doesn’t permit timeouts. There is a variant that seems to allow for timeouts officially.

Indoor soccer only allows for a single timeout request by each team in each half. This is granted as long as it is done before the ball is out of play. Unused timeouts from the first half cannot be transferred into the second half.

A 30-second timeout for each team is also allowed in Beach soccer. The difference here is, the timeout is not compensated for by additional time.

2 people are playing on the beach


Soccer is an amazing sport that doesn’t tolerate timeouts, unlike other sports. Although stoppages appear similar to timeouts, the run of play continues. This is often compensated with additional minutes in the half in which the stoppage occurred. Indoor soccer and beach soccer stands out from all other variations of soccer by officially allowing for timeouts during gameplay.