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Best Time for a Timeout

During a competition, there is only so much time that coaches get to speak with their team as a whole. Most coaches do take advantage of the pre-game speech, halftime, and the post-game speech to give advice and correct mistakes. But for the most part, there is a need to speak with athletes at competition beyond these standard meetings.

In a perfect world, coaches would be able to stop the game and converse with their athletes as many times as they would like. But in reality, there are only so many timeouts that a coach is allowed. Knowing when is best to use these timeouts can ensure that they aren’t wasted and that your athletes are getting the most out of them both mentally and physically. In an article for Basketball for Coaches, Founder and Coach Trevor McLean describes a few moments that are perfect for calling a timeout during game time.

First, McLean explains that coaches should use a timeout when they see that the other team has gained momentum over their own. Almost every team will experience a time when it seems like they can do no wrong. They might have made every shot that they attempted in the past ten minutes, or they might have blocked every effort of the opposing team. If your competition is experiencing this, McLean explains that they will have increased confidence, while your players will begin to wonder about their abilities. This decreased confidence can then affect their game play, causing them to make mistakes.

“Having said that, you should always call a timeout in this situation,” writes McLean. “Especially if you’re playing on the road. It calm’s down the crowd, re-focuses your players, and cools down the opposition players.”

Not only does this kind of timeout slow the other team down, but it can also be a chance to create your own momentum. But McLean explains that you don’t have to wait for the other team to do exceptionally well. Instead, he says that coaches should call a timeout if they notice that their players are making many mistakes, even if the score is in your favor. Calling a time out allows you to bring your players together, tell them what you are seeing, and give them some encouragement to bring their heads back into the game.

While your players might need a mental pick me up at points, there also might be a time when they just plain need a break. “3 minutes to go, the scores are tied, but unfortunately, your best player is running out of gas,” writes McLean. “Do you really want to sub them out of the game for a chance to rest? I doubt it.”                      

In a situation such as this, Mclean says that calling a timeout is the perfect solution. Not only does it give you a chance to tell your players what they are doing well and what they need to watch out for in the last few minutes of the game, but it also gives them each a rest. Chances are if one player needs it, the rest will need a breather as well.

Another time that McLean suggests a coach call a timeout is in order to explain a change in strategy. Maybe you’ve noticed that your opponent is playing strong against the offense that your team has been running, and you want to switch things up. While it is possible to yell out changes yourself, or to have the players on the sideline join together to call out the name of a play, there is always the chance that every player is not going to hear this. Athletes already have so much going on in their heads and around them that calling out plays could even end up causing confusion between players.

“Sometimes it can be hard to call out the changes that you want to be made, especially with younger players,” says McLean.  “You need to call a timeout so that you can talk to them and explain the changes without distractions.”

Click here to read the full article.                      

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