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Late Game Situations: Do you call a timeout?

Here’s the situation…

Your opponent missed the front end of a 1-and-1, you corralled the ball down one (64-63) with 18 seconds remaining on the clock; and one timeout. How do you handle?

A. Call a timeout immediately
B. Get the ball across half-court and call a timeout with 10 seconds remaining
C. Let the players play it out relying on your Read & React principles – Not allowing the defense to be set

My philosophy is that I will always call a timeout. Mainly just to calm down my guys and get them out of a panicked mind-set. Additionally, I would like to make sure I have the correct players on the floor and I am able to put them in the best position to win the game. Furthermore, I always prefer to have the ball at half-court. Even if there are five seconds left on the clock, there is still enough time to advance the ball quickly to half-court, call a timeout, and still have about 3 seconds remaining. Couple of thoughts on this:

  1. You take 47 feet out of play by putting the ball into the half-court.
  2. You get an additional 4.5 seconds to run a play before the ball has to be inbounded. Giving you 7.5 seconds to run a play.

Part of my philosophy has come from my obsession of the NBA and always trying to learn from the best coaches in the World. I cannot remember the last time I watched an NBA game and the coach did not call a timeout at the end of a game to draw up a play. But let’s get something clear, they aren’t just pulling plays out of the sky. Typically, these are plays that the team has practiced all season long. One thing that I learned from a current NBA coach is that he never draws up a new play during a game; avoiding any confusion or uncertainty. It is vital to set aside time in practice to at least walk through some end of game situations and new plays that you may frequent in special situations.

Consequently, this plan is not bullet proof. There is always the factor of not being able to get the ball back in-bounds. During my time at Florida, we lost to Tennessee twice on what seemed like the same play. Ball at half-court and the inbounds pass was stolen both times for a game ending lay-up. Whether you prefer to call a timeout or let your players play, have a firm stance on your philosophy and practice it so your players are all on the same page.

What is your philosophy at the end of the game?



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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.