1. 6-0 Run
Any time a team goes on a 6-0 run a coach needs to consider a timeout to stop the other teams momentum. Allowing a team to go on an 8, 9, or 10 pt swing could put your team too far behind or could allow your opponent to make enough of a comeback that you’ve got a battle on your hands down the stretch.
2. Two Consecutive Blown Defensive Assignments
Nothing hurts a team more than one player missing their defensive assignment. You can see the other players attitudes and effort start to deteriorate when defensive assignments are clearly missed. Use the timeout to correct the action, light a fire under in your players, or make a substitution. However you handle the situation make not to let these mistakes go without attention.
3. After Opponents Big Momentum Play
Teams who understand momentum thrive on big plays - charges, three pointers, steals, dunks. These teams feed on these momentum shifting plays and the whole team rallies behind the big play. A quick timeout can stop this momentum and put the game back in a controlled state that allows your team to make the next right play.
4. Focus Your Defense
At times teams get themselves to get worked up defensively and they need a few words of encouragement to get their focus back. This is different than blowing two straight assignments from above. This timeout will come at the end of the half or game and get your defense laser focused on what needs to happen next. It could be tightening up on a shooter, closing the gap on a dynamic point guard or trapping the post. No matter what the reason your team needs to be on the same page and ready to work as a unit.
5. Set-up An End of Clock Situation
This one can be tricky, so use it with caution. At the end of a quarter, half or game as the clock is winding down you want to have the right player with the ball in their hands. There is no better way to do this than calling a timeout right? Sort of. A coach needs to be careful that the defense doesn’t change so be sure to have a play and concept in mind. If you need a three point shot you may draw up a pin down screen vs a man to man defense. The defense comes out in a 2-3 zone though. Tell your team that you still want the pin down screen if they play zone, but it will need to come off a reversal pass. These terms can’t be new to your players. You’ll want make sure to practice different situations and use common language to give your players the best chance at understanding what you’re drawing up so they can make a big play.