Football Timeouts

Chapter 2.7

Is it possible to stop the game clock in football? With a special ability called a timeout, a team can stop the game clock from ticking in football.


Recall that there are two clocks in football that keep track of time:

Rookie Road Football Clocks Image


Timeouts are special calls a team can use to temporarily stop the game clock from ticking.

Rookie Road Football Timeouts Image

PRO TIP: After a timeout is called, the play clock lasts 25-seconds.

How Many?

Each team is given three (3) timeouts during a half. Timeouts don't carry over to the 2nd half, so it is in a team's best interest to use them before the half ends.

Consecutive Timeouts

No team can call two timeouts in a row on the same scrimmage down.

Timeout Strategies

A team will use a timeout for one of the following reasons:

  1. to conserve time
  2. to change the play design
  3. to prevent a delay of game penalty
  4. to ice the kicker

Conserve Time

Recall that the game clock keeps track of time in the current quarter and counts continuously towards zero. A team will call a timeout to conserve time so they have a chance to score.

Time is such an important factor in a football game. Any extra time can mean more time to run extra plays. As a result, teams will do whatever it takes to conserve time, especially if the score is close.

Changing The Play Design

A team may decide last minute to change the play design if they see the opposing team lining up in a specific way. Calling a timeout will give them time to regroup and change strategies.

Delay Of Game Penalty

Recall that the play clock keeps track of time in between scrimmage downs and counts continuously toward zero. A team will call a timeout to prevent a delay of game penalty if they think the play clock will hit 0:00.

Icing A Player

Icing a player is a technique used to get a mental edge over the opposing team. Imagine the score is very close and there is little time remaining on the game clock. If a team calls a timeout just before the play, they may cause the opposing team to make a trivial mistake costing them the game.

The best example of this is called icing the kicker. Just before a kick is performed, a team will call a timeout. There is a possibility that the kicker will make a mistake on the next play.

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