Timeout Strategy

One of my favorite hand motions in basketball is the signal for a “20 second timeout”.  Coaches lift their arms, bend their elbows, and touch shoulders with their fingers to signal a stoppage in play.   It’s a technique that I often use with clients, family, and friends to pause discussions. While the 20 second timeout signal is universally known in the basketball world, the communication that occurs after the motion varies from coach to coach.  I have been fortunate to be part of many different teams, in many different sports, and often observe the strategies used in that brief, but important interaction.  Below is what I have found to be most effective.  If you aren’t a coach think about when you have to deliver information to people in a quick and concise manner.

Attention Getter:  Whether it’s clapping, demanding eye contact, or simply asking a question, it’s imperative that attention is gathered quickly.  Make sure to have an attention getter that gets your team focused.

Encourager:  Once you have their attention offer an encourager.  An encourager will keep their attention and let them know what they are doing well.  It will open their minds and foster opportunities for more feedback.

Information:  The meat of your timeout should occur after the attention getter and encourager.  This is a time to give feedback, negative or positive, which should be the most important point you are looking to provide.

Encourager:  After the information has been processed an encourager is recommended to send the team on their way.  It’s a great opportunity to build cohesion leaving a huddle and remind the players that you believe in them.

Hope you can find a way to use the attention getter, encourager, information, encourager method whenever you have a timeout today.