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How Timeouts Can Help You Win

Competitive play is an excellent way to improve your game and have fun! While you might not have considered it for pickleball, the best athletes and teams in any sport use timeouts strategically. So, in this article version of our popular Pickleball Channel show, “Pickleball 411”, we’re going to share some strategic ways that you can use timeouts. Be sure to watch the entire video online, and don’t forget that you can subscribe for free to get a weekly video to help improve your game!

In basic play, each team can take two 60-second time-outs per game. Unfortunately, many teams, especially those new to tournament play, work really hard only to lose. And they never take advantage of this important element of the game. Don’t forget that you have time-outs and you can use them strategically as needed.

In our case, we will stack so that Justin is on the right side of the court and Dave is on the left side of the court. Dave is right-handed, and Justin is left-handed. Therefore, by stacking, we put our forehands in the middle, which gives us a lot of strength.

It’s been observed by some top players that the team that calls a timeout often gains the next point or wins the rally. If your opponent gets a quick run of multiple points in a row and starts taking a big lead, that’s a good time to take a timeout. It could break their momentum and give you a chance to come back. Likewise, if you are leading and about to win and your opponent is suddenly catching up to you, take a timeout. It could give you the chance to maintain control and win the game.

Sometimes you need time to talk to your partner in order to regroup and strategize. It may be in order to focus on yourself or something specific about your opponent. For example, maybe it feels like you’re having a balanced game. You’re experiencing long rallies and there aren’t really any unforced errors, however, you’re not scoring enough points and your opponent is slowly winning. Call a timeout in order to change your strategy. Otherwise, you may end up slowly losing the whole game.

Another example may be that you have a significant lead, but, all of a sudden, your opponent stops you from winning and starts to come back. Call a timeout and examine yourself. Have you gotten cocky or lazy? Maybe you need to refocus, or maybe your opponent has changed their strategy and now you need to adjust. Remember, take this type of timeout as a moment not only to think of how you’re losing points, but also what you’re doing when you are winning points.

These are just examples, and you have to determine for yourself how timeouts fit into your strategy. But it’s worth a try at your next tournament to see if a timeout can be the momentum shift that can get you the gold medal!

Special Thanks to: Dave Weinbach and Justin Rodgers

Pickleball Channel is an online media channel dedicated to creating videos about the sport of pickleball. With article versions of our most popular videos, such as this top-rated video from one of our highest-rated shows, Pickleball 411, you can read and refer back to the instruction at your leisure. Plus, the added bonus of being able to watch the video as a companion to your training is an added benefit! And be sure to subscribe for free at to get weekly videos.

Rusty Howes is the Executive Producer and creator of Pickleball Channel. Rusty worked for the likes of Warner Bros and Disney before creating Pickleball Channel to develop and provide fantastic, professional video content for the pickleball community. He is deeply involved in promoting the sport of pickleball at home and across the country.

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