Teams are permitted only two time-outs during the first half and three in the second, thus requiring the coach to use these wisely and for specific purpose through the entire game. This might include:
- To stop a rally by the opponent
- To adjust the game tactics
- To rest certain players
- To make a substitution
During the first half there is not the same pressure on the coach when deciding the best time to use a time out. However it is not uncommon that a time out is required very early in the game to make adjustments to the pre game strategy, or to help the players concentration on the task at hand. However it is preferable to show patience so long as the opposition are not allowed to develop momentum and establish a lead that could prove to be un-retrievable.
More wisdom must be used in the second half, especially if the game is destined to be decided only in the last moments. It is not uncommon that two time outs might be required during the last minute or two of a close match to set up special offensive or defensive situations, but it might be necessary for time outs to be used prior to the last moments to avoid the game getting out of reach.
When a time out is called the players should move quickly to the bench. The coach has only one minute to give instructions and players will need to give concentrated attention. It is unwise for coaches to expect players to execute a special situation play that has not been practised. Most people would have observed coaches drawing special play situations on their whiteboard during time outs. Unless these “special” plays have been practised on a regular basis then it is almost certain they are doomed to fail, or luck may play a part. During a time out a coach can expect to be effective in making clear only a couple of points, for the highly emotional state of the game players will not be able to absorb more than one or two instructions.
The time outs should be used to explain the pattern, to give players special assignments and to relate those assignments to the anticipated defensive tactics.