Halftime Guidelines

What to Discover or Recall:

Discover that having a team well prepared to start the second half will definitely provide a competitive advantage.. 

Learn that halftime should be divided into three segments: Players Time, Team Meeting, and Warm-up.

Review the first half performance and make plans for second half play receiving input from assistant coaches’ and first half game stats.
Understand to keep changes and adjustments simple.

Comprehend that second half warm-up is not only vital to player performance, but also to their health.

You can go into the locker room at half time either angry, frustrated or confident!

Halftime coaching has always been an important part of the game. In fact, prior to 1949, according to rule, coaching was only allowed during half time. No coaching was allowed during the game or even during a timeout. The reason being that the basketball was originally intended to be for participants only.

Organization & Time Management

Locker Room

For the utmost efficiency, half times should be well organized into three segments (Players’ Time, Team Meeting & Warm-up). Since time is at a premium, especially for high school games, players should hustle directly to the locker room. No outsiders should be allowed in locker room since they can be an unwanted distraction (also thefts have occur).

One assistant coach should be responsible for obtaining copies of the game stats and double check with the official scorer on player and team fouls along with timeouts.

In addition, someone should have the responsibility of watching the game clock and give a five minute warning. Don’t rely on game management especially on the road.

Players’ Time: The first 3-5 minutes

The first 3-5 minutes of halftime is a short break to address individual players’ needs such as water, restroom or injuries. No boisterous talking should be allowed during this time. It is a time for players to just relax and lower their heart rates.

This is, also, the time for a private coaches meeting to review the first half performance and make plans for second half play. Input from assistant coaches’ game notes, comments, and suggestions along with the first half game stats should be quickly analyzed noting opponent scorers, offensive rebounders, player turnovers, and shot selection.

Learn More  Sample Halftime Stat Reports

Based on this information, a second half strategy is formulated prioritizing any needed changes and/or adjustments. Since players have short memory spans and remember very little of what is said, keep adjustments and changes simple. 1 to 3 keys to success at the most.

Learn More   Laws of Learning


Team Meeting: Next: 3-5 minutes.

First talk to players individually if needed. During this part of halftime, all attention is focused entirely on coach. Be sure to get eye contact and every player is listening before speaking. Also, make sure only one coach is speaking at time. Too many voices during a time out can be very distracting and detrimental.

Present second half changes and adjustments in a positive and confident manner, maintaining poise! This is not a time for yelling. Use constructive criticism, but criticize team not individual players. Be sure to point out and commend positive play and efforts. Use a chalk or white board to diagram plays and/or defensive adjustments.

Ask for player input. Notify players as to the number of fouls. Announce second half starters and anticipated substitution order. If a lineup change is made, make sure that any first half starter(s) know why they are not starting the second half. Make sure that players are well aware of their assignments and roles.

Warning: Do not become complacent with a large halftime lead. Expect the opponents to start the second half with renewed determination, energy and effort. Must match or exceed this increase in energy and effort. Start second half as if the score was 0 to 0.

If trailing, play through adversity and anticipate applying some type of disruptive pressure defense. Know your best lineups for forcing opponent turnovers. Don’t expect to make up the deficient all at one time. But rather, have a series of five minute goals for cutting into and reducing the opponent’s lead.

Second Half Warm-up 3-5 minutes.

The last part of halftime is for returning to floor. This 3 to 5 minutes period will allow enough time for proper warm-up: lay-ups, paired shooting, free throws, etc.

Make sure the names and numbers of second half starters are given to official scorer. You certainly do not want to start second half with technical foul. Double check opponent’s second half starters and, if needed, make any match-up changes.

CAUTION: Not warming up properly can not only affect player performance, but also can be detrimental to their health.


Halftime Adjustments

More Than Just Stats

With the season on the line, you’re walking off the court at Halftime, you’re down 5 but should be up by 10 . . .

…Your statistician hands you a game leaders report, shot charts and graphic comparison report along with the box score. Pausing before entering the locker room, you scan the reports. You’re still amazed by the completeness of these reports while trying to focus on how you’re going to get control of this game. The opponent’s shot chart screams at you, “Too much scoring in the paint.” Their leading scorer is consistent from only one area, so what if we smother him whenever he’s…

Trying to wipe the grin off your face, you enter the locket room confident.

Having access to halftime statistics is definitely a competitive advantage. Coaches should look over the various game reports and inform their statisticians in advance which ones they would like printed out at half time. Coaches don’t have much time so they need to be able to review the reports quickly and address any problem areas. However, well informed halftime adjustments will definitely make the difference in a close ball game.

CyberSports recommends at least printing out the Game Box, Game Shot Chart, and Leaders Report. Leader reports are nice in that they list the player rankings in each category of statistics so that no time is wasted trying to figure them out using a box score. Shot charts reports for both teams, and the graphical comparison report also make great half time reports.

 Sample Boxscore Report

 Sample Game Leaders Report

View/Print Sample Game Shot Chart

Addition helpful halftime reports:

View/Print Sample Graphical Comparison Report

View/Print Sample All Players Shot Chart

Learn More What the Reports Tell


NOTE: For home games, it is also a common courtesy to provide the opponent's with a box score report at half time and after the game.