NFL

Do NFL teams switch sides at halftime?

Despite goal sports commonly seeing teams switch sides at halftime, NFL rules are a bit different. Scroll down to find out how they work.

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Do NFL teams switch sides at halftime?
Mike Comer AFP

Generally, mostly every goal sport and every sport which consists of two sides tends to change sides at halftime in order to make the chances fairer among the teams.

NFL works differently

American football, which is composed of four quarters, offers a chance to change sides every quarter. Nevertheless, this doesn't necessarily mean they always agree to change sides every quarter.

At the beginning of the game, team A will toss a coin and the side decision will be made for the opening quarter of the game, with teams obliged to change sides for the second quarter. But after halftime at the end of the second quarter, things will change a little.

A second coin is tossed in halftime and once again the decision will be made, meaning for example that Team B, who occupied the North end of the field in the second quarter, could maintain their position in the third quarter. For the last quarter of the game, teams switch positions again.

In the end, both teams will play two quarters on each side.

When was the rule implemented?

In order to ensure fair play and reduce any possible advantage due to meteorological conditions - wind or rain - and field conditions such as possible slopes, the NFL introduced the rule on changing sides in 1920, two years before American football even received its proper name, and it hasn't changed since. 

When do NFL breaks take place?

In theory, NFL quarters last for 15 minutes each, with a halftime break of 12 minutes after the first two quarters. However, the halftime rule can slightly change in major events such as the annual Super Bowl, with the halftime break lasting longer, commonly being extended to 30 minutes in some cases.

Apart from this 12-minute break, there are also two-minute breaks after the first and third quarter as teams switch ends of the field after each quarter.