The rules for timeouts are different based on the league and level of play. However, the overall concept of what a timeout is remains the same. Timeouts are calls a team make to temporarily stop the game clock and shot clock from ticking.
PRO TIP: The shot clock does not reset after a timeout is called. Instead, it stops ticking and will resume when the ball becomes live again.
In the NBA, teams have eight timeouts that last either 100 seconds or 20 seconds long. Teams get six timeouts that last 100 seconds and two timeouts that last 20 seconds.
College Basketball Timeouts
In college basketball, teams get six timeouts that last either 75 seconds or 30 seconds long. Teams get four timeouts that last 75 seconds and two timeouts that last 30 seconds.
How many timeouts does a team get during regulation? Here is a chart that summarizes how many timeouts a team gets in the NBA and college basketball during regulation:
NBA Overtime Timeouts
In the NBA, teams have two timeouts that last 60 seconds for each overtime quarter.
College Basketball Overtime Timeouts
In college basketball, a team's unused timeouts from regulation carryover to overtime. In addition, teams get one more timeout that lasts 75 seconds for each overtime quarter.
How many timeouts does a team get during overtime? Here is a chart that summarizes how many timeouts a team gets in the NBA and college basketball during overtime:
How does a team call a timeout? During a game, any player or coach can call a timeout.
PRO TIP: If a team calls a timeout when their team doesn't have any timeouts left, they will receive a technical foul.
A team can only call a timeout in the following game situations:
- when the ball is dead
- when a team has the ball
REMEMBER: The team on defense cannot call a timeout.
Teams will call a timeout to improve a game situation. Here are some of the reasons a team will call a timeout in a game:
- to change the play call
- to make a substitution
- to ice a player
A team may decide to change the play design if they see a specific formation like man to man or zone.
A substitution in basketball is when a player comes off the court and a new player from the bench takes his spot. Basketball allows unlimited substitutions to be made when the ball is dead. Depending on score and how much time is on the game clock, a coach may call a timeout to substitute a player.
Icing A Player
Basketball like any sport is a mental game. A coach will call a timeout during a high-pressure situation like during a free throw. Just before a free throw is made, a team will call a timeout for the possibility that the free throw shooter will make a mistake and miss the foul shot.