Granting Time Out

Most of the time granting a time out is not really rocket science.  With that said it is surprising to me how often we as officials end up in conflicts about this seemingly simple task.

Years ago only the captain could call time out and that seemed pretty restrictive as the game evolved so eventually any player on the court was allowed to request a time out.  Then as time went by and coaches wanted more control over the game the rule changed to where it is today that any player on the court or the head coach can request either orally or visually a time out.

During live ball action a team must be in control in order to call time out and additionally a player of that team must be in control of the ball as well, that is, holding or dribbling the ball.  See rule 5-8-3.

That word “request” is an important one and it is one that causes us some of our consternation when it comes to times out.  A player or coach may request a time out any time they wish but there are certain rule restrictions that apply to when officials can grant the time out request.

During a dead ball period the request may be granted immediately provided unless the replacement of a disqualified or injured player is pending.  Let’s don’t forget that the ball becomes dead as soon as it goes through the basket on a made free throw or field goal.  This often becomes important late in a closely contested game when a team making a desperation run scores a basket and then the coach of that team wants a time out.  Make sure you understand that this is a dead ball period and that the time out request can be granted immediately.

The dead ball period after a made field goal may not last very long.  Often the opposition can grab the ball, step out of bounds in a position to throw the ball inbounds in a matter of a second or two.  Once this is done the ball comes “live” and only the throwing team is now allowed by rule to call time out.

This situation presents officiating challenges.  If the coach of the scoring team requested time out during the short dead ball period by the time the official grants that request the ball may already be on its way inbounds, making it appear that the official granted the time out too late.  If this happens to you, make sure you sound the while loudly and point with decisiveness toward the bench that requested time out.  Sell it!

During live ball there are two particular situations involving time out requests that caused officials problems.  Ponder this situation.  A1 is holding the ball at the elbow trying to find an open cutter.  The coach of Team A requests a time out.  But, by the time the official sounds her whistle A1 passes the ball which is intercepted just as the granting official is sounding her whistle.  If you have been officiating for very long you have been there and have experience this play.  It appears that the time out was granted when the opposition had the ball.

Again, this is a time where you want to sell strongly with a loud whistle and a strong point to the calling bench with some good voice to boot.

The other time out situation during live ball play that causes some problems is during a deflected pass or during an interrupted dribble.  In these situations often both coaches begin requesting a time out before any player of either team has gained control.  More than one official has granted a team a time out when no one had control.  Don’t let a coach’s request panic you into sounding a quick whistle.  Make sure there is player control first before sounding a whistle.  Once there is, then sound loudly and point to the bench.

In the video above it appears that the covering official granted the team in control a time out without a player of that team being in control.



Rule 5-8-3

ART. 3

Grants a player’s/head coach’s oral or visual request for a time-out, such request being granted only when:

a. The ball is at the disposal or in control of a player of his/her team.

b. The ball is dead, unless replacement of a disqualified, or injured player(s), or a player directed to leave the game is pending, and a substitute(s) is available and required.


Case ruling


A1’s dribble is “interrupted” when the ball deflects off his/her shoe. A1 or a teammate asks or signals for a time-out as the ball bounces toward: (a) the sideline; or (b) the division line.

RULING: The request cannot be granted in (a) or (b), since A1’s dribble has been “interrupted” and the ball is loose. (4-15-6c)



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