A timeout is a one minute pause in the countdown of the thinking time clock. Each team is given one timeout for the entire game. During a game of curling, the only communication that the team has with the coach is during the halfway mark when the teams take a short break, and during the timeout. Therefore, teams reserve their timeout for later in the game when they will most likely need their coach's input. In some instances, the fifth may come down instead of the coach.
Thinking time is a method of keeping track of time in curling. It gives each team a set amount of team to think about the strategy that they want to pursue when delivering their stone. The thinking time clock starts counting down when the opponent's stone stops. It stops counting down when the thrower pushes out of the hack.
Coaching on Timeouts
Since it takes some time for the coach to travel from the viewing area behind the scoreboards to the ice, the one minute timeout will not begin until the coach reaches the team. You will sometimes see an additional clock counting travel time for the coach to get to the team, and usually lasts no more than 45 seconds. This technically means that the timeout is more than one minute. However, the team only has one minute to speak with their coach. During a timeout, teams will discuss the strategy of the current shot, what to expect from their opponent's shots, and the strategy that will be played for the remainder of the end. Even though the coach is by the ice surface, they may not step on to the ice. After this one minute of time expires, the thinking time clock will continue to countdown.
During your opponent's timeout, your coach may not come down to the ice, but it does give your team a chance to discuss the current end as a group and come up with a more developed strategy yourselves. Another piece of curling etiquette is that during a timeout, the team that called the timeout can stand within the space of the house. Thus, the team that did not call the timeout must stay away from the house. However, your team is free to have a discussion during the opponent's timeout.