Title Timeouts

What to Discover or Recall:

Discover the vital importance of timeouts to the outcome of close games.

Learn to keep adjustments and changes simple since players remember very little what is said during a timeout.

Understand the importance of getting eye contact with all players prior to speaking and that only one coach speaks at a time.

Comprehend that when a time out is taken because the team is playing poorly, to provide constructive adjustments and confidence not not criticism!

Realize the importance that all players know the number of timeouts remaining and the team foul situation coming out of a timeout.



Since timeouts are used primarily for strategy purposes, they play an important role in every basketball game, and are extremely crucial at the end of a close game. Therefore, they should be anticipated and used wisely. To get maximum benefit, whenever a timeout is called, players should run to the bench, especially in the case of a 20 or 30 second timeout. Note: if a player is so tired they cannot run to the bench, they should be replaced immediately.

Full timeouts should be divided into two parts with the first 30 seconds being players’ time for water, towels, etc. For the last 30 seconds of a timeout all attention goes entirely to coach. Substitutes must also be alert and pay attention to the changes and adjustments being made.

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. During timeouts, it is common place to observe four different coaches talking to different players at the same.

Since players remember very little of what is said during a timeout, keep adjustments and changes simple. 1 to 3 things at the most. In addition, do not expect them to successfully execute anything new that you have not worked on in practice.

Last shot situation of a Laker vs Celtic Playoff Game: Lakers take a timeout with ball possession. Coach Paul Westhead, using a felt pen and speaking in his Shakespearian English, diagrams the play action he wants run for the winning shot attempt. After diagramming the play at the end of the time out, he asks his players "Do you have it?"

As they break the huddle, Magic Johnson replies. "Yes coach, we have it. You want us to get it to the big guy." (Abdul-Jabbar)

Play Diagrams

CAUTION: If you are going to draw plays during a timeout, make sure all players know how to understand them and that they are clearly drawn. Do not take it for granted that they have been taught how to interpret and understand play diagrams.

Learn More How to Read & Interpret Play Diagrams

Double Check Timeouts

On every timeout, be sure an assistant coach double check with the official scorer on the exact number of personal fouls on each player and time outs remaining. Official scorers are known to make mistakes in crediting personal fouls to the wrong player. However, if caught early it can be corrected. However, if a player foul discrepancy is discovered late in the game, there is nothing much that can be done to correct it.

Coming out of time out, make sure every player must knows the number of time outs remaining and team foul situation. This is extremely important at the end of a close game. Games and national titles have been lost by players taking a timeout after a team has used their last timeout and not taking advantage of having fouls to give.

Strategy & Tips:

NOTE: Before TV time outs and stopping the clock the last minute after made field coaches figured out ingenious ways to stop the clock. These uncharged timeouts included: fake injury, fake lost contact lens, accidental spilled water on floor, and even the spilling of popcorn on the court by a manager. Fortunately, with the stoppage of the clock in the last minute and increase in the number of time outs, these drastic measures are no longer needed.