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Managing the breaks (Part 2).

In the first half of this article we discussed the many situations that could be considered "break" time during a basketball game. It is critical for coaches who want to take their programs to the next level to maximize this time and to assist their teams in maintaining mental focus throughout the contest.


The two longest breaks between tip-off and the final buzzer will be time between quarters and halftime. We will address the quarter-breaks first because they can be organized like a 60-second or longer time-out. Shorter time-outs will be discussed next.

There are several people who must coordinate their activities during a long time-out. It is best for the head coach to determine who will be seated in the bench area and to assign duties in advance: Will the coaching staff visit first before addressing the players? Who will verify the scorebook (time-outs remaining and fouls)? Who will verify with the referees the exact point of the throw-in? How will the players be seated during time-outs?

As you have seen on TV, coaches use many styles to get their players' attentions during time-outs. Some use folding chairs positioned in a half-circle far from the bench area and visitors' taunts. Do you have enough personnel to pull this off?

If managers are handling the chairs, who takes care of the water and towels? Others have specific seating arrangements for the five players determined by position (point guard, forwards, posts). Regardless of your preferences, there should be no doubt about what everyone's responsibilities are on game night.



Diag. 2 suggests placing standing players who are not in the game (6-12) at the moment behind the bench to help prevent distractions from the crowd and to help those who may be needed as substitutes pay better attention to the coach's instructions.

In this example, the assistant coaches (AC) are positioned to either side of the head coach (C). Managers (MGR) can pass out water and towels without the players having to turn their attention away from what is being discussed in the huddle, and an experienced student-helper can also check with the scorer's table if necessary.

The players on the bench should not break until the coach's signal, but the first horn should alert the rest of the staff to begin readying for the game. It is also a good idea to remind managers and players that once the head coach begins speaking, there should be no more water passed out in the huddle.

Shorter breaks, such as 30-second time-outs, must be practiced separately. Because all the players remain standing, it is more challenging to involve the bench personnel. Substitutes are often checking into the game at the same time. Make sure the players are alerted about changing match-ups, if necessary, and everyone is aware of who will be in the game when the whistle blows.

One convenient way to practice this situation is to organize the players, managers, and assistant coaches in a "30-second timeout" at the beginning or end of practices when you may be in a habit of sharing information or motivation. It will develop a habit of discipline, concentration, and focus that could save you precious seconds when explaining something that might alter the course of a contest.

By far the longest break in the action of a basketball game is half-time. Fans and commentators not only reminisce about the first half, they love to speculate on the adjustments that may or may not be made by both teams. Momentum can shift and fortunes turned by how teams respond to the extended rest period.

The staff must answer several questions before the season begins. How long will the players have in the locker room by themselves before the coaches enter? Will players be allowed to view halftime stats?

What information does the head coach need and/or want before addressing the team? Who will be allowed to talk to the team?

Who will keep the time remaining on the game clock?

How should the players be positioned in the locker room before the coaching staff enters?

How much time will the players be allowed to warm-up towards the end of halftime, and has a specific warm-up routine been determined?

Having established procedures improves team communication and discipline. It structures the environment for the players so that they can focus more energy on the information being presented and expend less on meaningless distractions.

Of course, the best coaches know just when to modify the routine or "break" it altogether in order to gain a team's attention ... by using these suggestions, you will better be able to manage those breaks and win the close games.

By Matthew Neighbors, Basketball Coach, Galveston (TX) High School


* 30-second time-out Teams must remain standing
 on playing court
* 60-second time-out 1st buzzer will sound at 15 sec
* 1st/3rd Qtr Breaks
* Halftime Clock starts when referees leave
 floor; Length may differ due to
 media or venue festivities
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Title Annotation:BASKETBALL
Author:Neighbors, Matthew
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Previous Article:Coaching and leadership.
Next Article:The Joe Torre story: the Yankees skipper has earned his pinstripes through 10 seasons in the Bronx.

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