Thursday, February 23, 2012

Timeouts- A Coach's greatest weapon....for failure?

When we started our journey to look deeper at Lacrosse statistical analysis, we wanted to use other sports as areas that could generate some ideas for discussion.

In doing so, we keep getting drawn towards Basketball as a source of great information. It's a sport that has fully embraced statistical analysis and more importantly, it is the one sport that is most similar to Lacrosse in style of play. The depth of analysis in Basketball is comparible to what is being done in Baseball.

ESPN has been a real fountain of stats and they posted the following article the other day about Timeouts and the impact on team offensive success in the NBA.

In the study they noted that a team's shooting percentage was lower AFTER a timeout than it was WITHOUT a timeout being called. They looked at close games (less than 5 points behind or tied) and at various points in the final 5 minutes of the game (Winning Time as we like to call it).

How often have you been to a Lacrosse game and the trailing team calls their timeout with less than a minute to go? I coach and I know it's common. Heck even my team calls the timeout in that situation! Then I thought about the other side of it.

As the defending team, I like having 60 seconds to set our defence and get my best 5 defenders on the floor but why would I not think the opposite way as the attacking team? Why allow the opponent to rest their D guys and get on the floor where they want them to be? Why not force a defender to rush out on the floor, find his cover in transition and then also figure out what play is being run?

The questions is, would a trailing team be more successful if they eschewed the Timeout and had their offence attack in transition?


  1. The problem is they are using FG% instead of points generated.

    If you need 2 points it doesn't matter if it's on the first shot, the 4th or from a pair of free throws.

    1. You are correct but to get a second shot attempt requires both a rebound plus a successful play that will score.
      In basketball the ratio of Offensive Rebounds to Defensive Rebounds is about 1:4 thus the defending team would give up a rebound about 20% of the time.
      When you start adding on events required to succeed after an initial failure, you're just increasing the likelihood that the trailing team will fail.