One gem of advice I received when I started coaching was to listen to other coaches’ time-outs. Some of the rubbish I heard was important in increasing my level of confidence.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill:

“Never has so much crap been spoken by so many, so often.”

With this in mind, here are some basic pointers when conducting time-outs.

Call time-outs early

If you lose three points in a row, call a time out. Some opposition teams will carry on like pork chops when you call one. Do not be intimidated by these idiots.

Remember that when you call a time-out you could well have a 66.6% chance of getting a service error from the opposition when the match resumes.

Know what you want to say

When you call a time out, get out of the way. Always let the kids get a drink first. Take that time to get your act together and figure out what you are you going to say.

While the players are getting a drink, look at the notes you have on the back of your Ribbon Stats and cut the five points you may have, down to three.

Know how you want to say it

If you need your team to be calm after the time-out, be calm yourself. If you need more energy in your team after the time-out, bring that energy yourself.

You do not always have to talk to the whole team. Leave the team to the captain and you talk to the setters, the passers, or Tall Tina who is having a shocker.

Finish with the important bit

Go through the 3 points in reverse order of importance, finishing up with the main reason you called the time-out. Just before you finish the time-out ask the team to tell you why you called it. 

If your team is not good at handling instructions ask them to repeat your key point in the time-out.

Avoid “no shit” statements

Your team has just shanked the last seven serves into the grandstand. You call a time-out to tell the team: “We need a pass”.

Your team may be too polite to say it, but they are thinking: “No shit, coach. What a great insight.” Try to avoid these moments.

With your time-out over, get the drink rack off the court, sit down, relax and then watch the next serve to see if you did, in fact, make a “coach’s point”.