Thoughts on Timeouts

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

I put together a tweet thread last week on some of my thoughts on timeouts. I'm putting them in blog post form to keep them all in one place.

In Massachusetts we get five "full timeouts" per game, and because we play four quarters we have three additional breaks in the action. During those eight breaks in the game coaches have the opportunity to send their players key messages and adjustments. Although most of what we are going to talk about can apply to halftime and end of quarter moments, we are going to focus in on timeouts.

Those sixty second timeouts serve as crucial moments for coaches and players to regroup. The thoughts we'll discuss are a combination of lessons I've learned, and interesting ideas that I've gathered from other coaches. Hopefully I can add a little more context & insight to the tweets.

1. Call it Following a Score

The majority of timeouts are used as a means to stop a run or a to make a change. However, using a timeout after a big shot or after momentum building moment can be really powerful.

Let's think about the difference in the huddle in that moment. One team goes to their bench dejected - and the other heads back excited with their teammates greeting them on the floor.

Those are the moments where I think timeouts can be more than just a break in the action.

2. Give One Actionable Message

Coaches probably have a "laundry list" of things they would like to address by the time that first break in the action occurs.

For the players sake though, we need to send them out of the huddle with one simple actionable message.

Coaches need to filter themselves an ask, "what is the most important item we need to address at this moment?" Then send them out of the huddle that message in hand.

3. Tactical Not Emotional

I would say I tend to be a bit more on the emotional side throughout the game - so this is a good reminder for myself.

On occasion coaches may need to get after their team a bit - but the vast majority of the time diagnosing the necessary adjustment is what truly needs to be done.

  • Changing Defenses

  • Reminder of the Plan

  • Reinforce Principles

  • Counter Denial or Sagging Defenses, etc.

More often than not those are the kinds of things that coaches need to address in order to help their players.