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How Long is a Volleyball Game? Easy Answer.

Let’s get straight to the point.

How long is a volleyball game? Differentiate for indoor and beach.

First and foremost, we need to distinguish between Indoor and Outdoor Volleyball game to answer how long a volleyball game can be.

Another consideration to determine the duration of a volleyball game is the number of sets.

On average, a set in Indoor Volleyball played to 25 is around 20 to 25 minutes.

On the beach, an average Volleyball set played to 21 is around 15 to 20 Minutes.
As we can never estimate how many sets are going to be played in a match beforehand, let’s always assume the longest duration to plan our time accordingly.

Answer for: Indoor Volleyball Games: Best of 5

  • 3:0 – 1 hour and 15 minutes
    Estimate a game time on the court for about 60 minutes in total. 
    Let’s add technical timeouts and breaks between sets with another 15 minutes total for a total duration of 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • 3:1 – 1 hour 50 minutes
    With one more set played and one more switch between sets, the time in play is now 1 hour 30 minutes. Chances are, the sets were a lot closer in terms of points differences, with some of them even going above 25 points, as both teams seem to be on a similar level.
    Let’s add 20 Minutes of breaks for a total duration of 1 hour 50 minutes.
  • 3:2 – 2 hours 15 minutes.
    The fifth and final set is only played to 15 points. However, as both teams are equal in level of play, the previous sets also took longer to play. Longer rallies and better plays are not uncommon. For the last set we can estimate only a slightly quicker set, as both teams are spurned on a little extra, leading to even longer rallies as before.
    Playing time: 1 hour 50 minutes.
    Timeout and breaks: 25 minutes.
    Total game duration on average: 2 hours 15 minutes.

Answer for: Indoor Youth Volleyball Games and Best of 3

These games are very similar to best of 5 games. However, the level of play most often than not is lower than in the more professional played Best of 5s. The same holds true for when comparing to youth games. 
This leads to even shorter rallies, more mistakes, especially while serving, which shortens the game time even further.

  • 2:0 – 45 Minutes
    Very similar to the Best of 5’s 3:0 minus one set. In these games, one team could be significantly better than the other, as the difference is skills in amateur level play is only difficult to regulate.
  • 2:1 1 hour 15 Minutes
    The last set in a Best of 3 is typically played to 25 as well, compared with the final set in a best of 5, which is only played to 15 points.
    A closer game with longer rallies and more often then not above 25 points and win by two tend to make a game longer.

Answer for: Beach Volleyball Games

Beach volleyball games are only played to 21 points, with a maximum of 3 sets.
In a professional setting, the 3rd and final set is also shortened to 15 points.

Playing in sand is significantly more exhausting. Even more so, as we don’t have 6 players per side to cover the court, but only 2.
However, we can assume the same reasons as for Indoor volleyball games to lengthen or shorten the game time.

  • 2:0 – 40 minutes
    With less points to play compared to indoor volleyball, these sets tend to be over a bit quicker. Longer rallies are also less common.
    There is only one break between sets, while 3 30 second breaks in total can occur per set: One per team, one universal break when the sum of point reaches 21 points.
  • 2:1 – 60 Minutes
    Slightly longer rallies, one more, although shortened set to play, more equal opponents.

How long is a volleyball game: Final conclusion

The duration of a volleyball game varies depending on factors such as indoor vs. outdoor, the number of sets, and the level of play. Indoor sets to 25 points take around 20-25 minutes, while beach volleyball sets to 21 points last about 15-20 minutes. 

In best-of-five indoor matches, 3-0 games last roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes, 3-1 games take around 1 hour and 50 minutes, and 3-2 games can reach 2 hours and 15 minutes. Indoor youth games or best-of-three matches are shorter, with 2-0 results lasting about 45 minutes and 2-1 games extending to approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

Beach volleyball games played to 21 points typically last 40 minutes for a 2-0 outcome and about 60 minutes for a 2-1 result. Factors like skill level and competitiveness impact game duration.

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

What’s the record for the longest volleyball match ever played?

The record for the longest volleyball match ever played was achieved in November 2021 during a league match between Allianz Milano and Top Volley Cisterna. 

This remarkable game lasted a total of 2 hours and 55 minutes, surpassing the previous record set in the Italian Cup in 2020 by a mere minute. In a thrilling contest, Cisterna emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Do shorter rallies and more mistakes in youth volleyball games contribute to shorter game times?

Yes, shorter rallies and more mistakes in youth volleyball games can indeed contribute to shorter game times. As the skill level in youth games is generally lower compared to professional matches, players may struggle to execute complex plays and maintain longer rallies. 

Mistakes, especially during serving, can also occur more frequently, leading to quicker point exchanges. These factors result in a faster pace of play and ultimately contribute to shorter game durations.

Does the level of play impact the duration of a volleyball game?

Yes, the level of play can impact the duration of a volleyball game. Higher levels of play often involve more skilled players who can execute precise and strategic plays, leading to longer rallies. 

These longer rallies require more effort and time to score points, thus lengthening the overall duration of the game. On the other hand, lower levels of play may feature less skilled players who struggle to sustain rallies, resulting in shorter game durations as points are won or lost more quickly.

How does the duration of a volleyball game vary based on the competitiveness of the teams?

The duration of a volleyball game can vary based on the competitiveness of the teams. In closely contested matches where teams are evenly matched, rallies tend to be longer and more intense, as both teams fight for every point. 

This can lead to extended playtimes and, consequently, longer game durations. Conversely, when there is a significant skill gap between the teams, one team may dominate the match, resulting in shorter rallies and quicker point exchanges. As a result, the game duration may be shorter in such cases.

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