Once upon a time there was a match before my team played. During one set the home side was up something like 24-18. At that point, the opposing coach called timeout. Why?

Granted, these were teenage players. Runs of points are common. As a result, a 6 point deficit can be overcome. But why wait to 24 to call that timeout?

I wrote before on the subject of when to call timeouts. That post includes a discussion of how research shows that timeouts have basically no effect on the outcome of the next point. To my mind, any given point is basically a crap shoot as to what happens. If you’re waiting until the other team has 24, all it takes is one little bit of bad luck and the set is over. Better to take that timeout a little earlier to allow for random events.

What really gets me, though, is when a team is way down with basically zero chance of recovery and the coach calls timeout on set point. What on earth could possibly be accomplished by doing that? Other than prolonging the agony, of course.

This smacks of a coaching feeling like they had to “do something”. If there was something to be done, it should have happened well before set point!

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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