We all do it. We've all done it. We will all do it in the future. We waste a timeout. Waste in the fact that we don't get the information we need to get to our players. A lot of this can be because of various reasons. Would you believe me if I told you it could be avoided? You can actually script how a timeout should go? Let's breakdown a timeout from 30,000 feet and then take a closer look.
What's the purpose of a timeout? The simple answer is to stop the game. But what is the purpose? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to make a point to your players, the officials or even worse the crowd? Is it strictly for show?
Now ask yourself this. Are you a time out hoarder or a spender? Ever lose a close game and had 2 timeouts left? Ever lost a game because you were out of timeouts with 4:00 left?
There are 2 types of timeouts.
They are: Angry or Strategic. Inside those two types are subtopics.
Angry - At Players or At Officials
Strategic - Make a Change or Stop Momentum
Types of Timeouts:
The Angry Timeout
We've all seen it and some of us have done it. Something bad happens and the Coach calls timeout with no other intention except complaining. Heck, I've done it so I'm talking to myself too. I'm also not promising I will stop doing it. But really, what does it accomplish? Did it help? Sometimes anger is like vomit. It only helps the one doing it. Sometimes it makes it worse. Like pouring alcohol on a scrape.
When you're angry at a player, why not just substitute the next dead ball? I know someone of you just said to yourself "Because I want them out of the game right then!" Some of you are thinking "Yep, exactly what I was thinking." Now you're wondering how I'm in your thoughts. Wouldn't it be cool if Morgan Freeman's voice was the voice inside your head. After reading that, the voice you're reading this to yourself in now is Morgan Freeman's voice. HA! Alright-back to basketball. When we spend a timeout on removing a player we've got to make sure we get a positive out of it. That's the hard part.
When you use a timeout angry at an official, one of two things are going to happen. You're either going to get stuck with a technical or the next call is going against you because you tried to show them up. I'll address how to handle this later.
The Strategic Timeout
Make a Change
Rarely are we as Coaches successful with a whiteboard to court change that hasn't been addressed in practice. I can think of a handful of times it worked and hundreds of times it didn't. If you're fortunate enough to have a great staff working with you, have them be working on the plan while you're coaching the game. Then at a timeout or between quarters you can make your adjustments.
What is your stoppage point? Do you have one? We have a 6-0 play. Something we feel we can get a layup or fouled to stop a 6-0 run. If it goes past that we will call a timeout. I HATE calling timeouts here but I'm getting better about it. We all know it's a game of runs and they will happen. I'm trying to keep my stubbornness from letting a 8-0 run turn into a 14-0.
During those timeouts, You have to know what your team needs. Do they need an a@* chewing, do they need reassurance, maybe even a joke? Know your personnel (another topic) and what they need.
Alright, so now we've defined timeouts, lets breakdown a perfect timeout. In order to have a great timeout, I believe you have to have roles and spots defined. Who's doing what and where everyone is standing & sitting.
In a :30 second timeout, You have time for few precise instructions. Make a sub. Call a play. Not draw one up. You don't have time.
Here's a tip. In a :30 second timeout, the players on the bench can't come to the floor. It doesn't mean you can't bring your huddle to them. This way if you make a call for the next few possessions and know you might have to sub your subs know what is going on.
A :60 second timeout is a little different. I like a chair. I read something about being eye-level when speaking so this puts me eye level with the players.
Here we go...
Time out called
Coaches talk 7:10 seconds AWAY from the huddle
Depending on where you are I like Players in different areas. If there is room behind the bench. I want players or a buffer from the crowd for different reasons. Assistant Coaches on the ends of the huddle to keep eyes engaged and to have input.
Take some time to talk about timeouts with your staff and your team. Practice them before the season.