In high school football, there are two kinds of timeouts: Team and Injury Timeouts. Each team can take three timeouts in each half of the game.

Football is a team sport, and the key to winning is having the best offense. An offense is a group of skilled players working together to move the ball down the field and score points. To be successful, the team must follow many rules.

High School Football is a fun and thrilling sport that involves lots of planning, working together as a team, and displaying talents. You might find it interesting to know that there are specific guidelines regarding when timeouts can be called during High School Football matches. These rules aren’t just to avoid delays in the game, but they’re also intended to guarantee fair play and safety for everyone participating. Let me share with you what you should know about calling timeouts in High School Football:

Types of Timeouts in High School Football

In High School Football, there are various types of timeouts that teams can use.

Team Timeout

In High School Football, coaches have the option to call a timeout to achieve different purposes. They can use timeouts to stop the clock, discuss game strategies with players and staff, or provide instructions. Sometimes, coaches call timeouts to give their players a rest during a lengthy drive. Timeouts are also handy when dealing with a running clock, like in the last two minutes of a half, to pause the game and strategize.

Injury Timeout

When a player gets injured in High School Football, there is something called an “injury timeout.” This timeout is called either by the coach or the injured player. If the player calls for the injury timeout, he must leave the game and can only return after being cleared by the team’s medical staff. The injury timeout allows the player to receive medical attention and get off the field before the game resumes.

If you’re not sure whether to call an injury timeout or not, follow this chart:

If a player is bleeding heavily from the head, face, or neck, call an injury timeout right away! It could be very dangerous for the players and the people watching the game if the injury is not treated promptly.

Exceptional Timeout

There are a couple of unique timeouts in High School Football:

  • TV Timeout: In televised games, both teams take a timeout together to allow commercials to be shown without causing confusion about the game’s status. It also gives announcers a chance to discuss recent on-field events.
  • Two-Minute Warning: Before each new quarter, half, or overtime period, there will always be two minutes left, and this is known as the “two-minute warning.” You’ll hear this announcement during each part of the game. There might be exciting moments in those final seconds leading up to the new period, so keep watching!

Strategies For Using Timeouts in High School Football

In High School Football, you can apply several strategies when using timeouts during the game. Let’s explore some of these effective ways to make the most of the breaks in play.

Offensive Strategies

You can use a timeout to help the offense regroup.

If your team is struggling to execute their plays and needs extra time, calling a timeout can be beneficial. This break allows you to discuss what went wrong and find solutions with your teammates.

Another reason to call a timeout is when the defense is well-prepared for a play, and you need to make adjustments. This could involve changing blocking schemes or finding a new approach.

Lastly, if your team is trailing by more than one score with less than two minutes left in the game, it might be a good idea to use a timeout strategically.

Defensive Strategies

In High School Football, timeouts are commonly used to pause the clock and provide the defense an opportunity to regroup. Here are some simple defensive strategies for making the most of timeouts:

  • Stopping the Opponent’s Scoring: When the other team is advancing towards a scoring opportunity, calling a timeout allows your defense to take a breather and potentially make a critical stop.
  • Changing Game Momentum: If the opposing team is dominating the game, calling a timeout can help your team reset, regroup, and come up with a plan to shift the momentum in your favor.
  • Icing the Kicker: When the other team is attempting a field goal, calling a timeout can add pressure to the kicker, increasing the chance of them missing the kick.
  • Getting the Ball Back: If the other team is about to punt the ball, using a timeout provides your team an opportunity to regain possession of the ball and gain better field position.

Using timeouts effectively is crucial for winning a football game. When you use them wisely, they can give your team a valuable rest, shift the game’s momentum, or assist in regaining possession of the ball.

Here are some additional key strategies for using timeouts in High School Football:

  • Timing is Essential: Use timeouts strategically when you really need them, like towards the end of the first half or after scoring plays. If you have a comfortable lead and want to maintain it, consider saving your timeouts for later in the game.

This is especially important if your team has a strong offense that can score quickly and frequently. In such cases, it’s better not to waste valuable time by calling a timeout when it’s unnecessary.

  • Another smart plan is to keep a few or all of your three second-half timeouts until the late fourth quarterThis is when teams may become fatigued or make mistakes due to tiredness. 

For example, suppose there are only two minutes left on the clock, and your team is leading by seven points. Instead of using a timeout now when the opponent still has plenty left, consider saving it. They might still have enough time to drive down the field and score, and it’s best to keep the timeout for a more crucial moment later.

When to Use Team Timeouts in High School Football: How Coaches Make Decisions

When coaches decide when to call a team timeout in High School Football, they consider several important factors. Timeouts are important for coaches because they let them pause the clock, give directions to players, and possibly shift the game’s direction. Coaches may use timeouts when there are penalties or injuries on the field.

Key factors in deciding when to call a team timeout include:

Game Situation: If the team is behind and needs to score, the coach may call a timeout to help the team regroup and strategize for scoring.

Time Remaining: If there’s only a short time left in the game, the coach may call a timeout to allow the team to rest, plan, and make necessary adjustments.

Injuries and Regrouping: If there are multiple injuries on the team and they need a break to regroup, the coach may call a timeout to provide the players with a much-needed rest.

By considering these factors, coaches can make well-informed decisions about when to use a team timeout effectively in High School Football.

What happens if a team calls more timeouts than allowed in a game?

If a team uses more timeouts than allowed in a game, they will face a penalty. The penalty can be one of the following:

Loss of Down (and 5 yards): If you are on offense, your team will lose the down, and the ball will go back to where it was before the play started. For example, if you were on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line and called a timeout before attempting an easy field goal, you will now have fourth down again.

Loss of 5 Yards from the Next Snap: Your team will be moved back 5 yards from where the next play would have taken place.

Loss of Down plus 5 Yards: You will lose the down, and your team will be moved back 5 yards from where the next play would have occurred.

Loss of Down plus 10 Yards: You will lose the down, and your team will be moved back 10 yards from where the next play would have happened.

It’s essential for teams to manage their timeouts wisely to avoid these penalties and maintain their advantage on the field.

Can Players Call Timeouts in High School Football, or is It Only the Coaches?

In High School Football, players do not have the authority to call timeouts. Only coaches and the team captain can call timeouts, and they must have a valid reason for doing so. If a player needs a timeout, they can indicate it by raising their hand above their head and waving it back and forth.

Coaches will grant a timeout request if there’s an injury on the field that requires medical attention or if a player needs to take a quick bathroom break (they get one minute between plays).

The only other situation when players can call a timeout is when they need to hydrate during play. However, this type of timeout does not count towards the team’s allotted number of timeouts per game.

What Happens During an Injury Timeout in High School Football?

As a coach, it’s crucial to understand what occurs during an injury timeout in High School Football.

When an injury occurs, the referee will stop the game, and the injured player must leave the field. The referee will then assess the player’s condition to determine if they can safely return to the game. The injured player will receive medical attention from trainers and doctors at a designated area near the team’s bench.

During this time, the referee will also communicate with the coaches so they can make any necessary adjustments to their game plan. Once all players have been assessed by the medical staff, the game will resume, and play will continue.

Are there any limitations on what can be talked about during a team timeout?

You can discuss strategies, but avoid revealing your specific game plan. It’s okay to talk about the other team’s actions and patterns, as long as you don’t disclose your next moves. You can also analyze the referees’ decisions and the opposing coaches’ tactics, but be cautious not to expose their intentions either.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Injury Timeouts a Player Can Take in a Game?

In High School Football, players can take as many injury timeouts as needed in a game. However, each team is limited to one injury timeout per quarter, and after using it, the player must sit out for at least one play.

Players can only call an injury timeout in High School Football if they are truly hurt, or if they have been examined and treated by the team’s medical staff on the sidelines. Coaches cannot use injury timeouts as a strategic move during the game; they can only use them when there are actual injuries on the field, even if there are multiple injuries happening simultaneously.

This rule is in place to prevent teams from using up all their timeouts early in the game, preserving them for more critical situations later when fatigue or other factors may come into play, based on how well the team has performed throughout the season so far.


Q1: How many timeouts does each team get in a High School Football game?

– Each team is allowed three timeouts per game in High School Football.

Q2: Can a team carry forward unused timeouts to the next half or quarter?

– No, unused timeouts do not carry forward to the next half or quarter. Each team starts with three timeouts in each half.

Q3: Can players call timeouts in High School Football?

– No, only coaches and the team captain can call timeouts. Players can signal for a timeout by raising their hand, but it’s up to the coaches to decide whether to grant it.

Q4: When can coaches call timeouts during the game?

– Coaches can call timeouts at any time during the game to strategize, regroup, manage the clock, or address specific situations.

Q5: Are there any exceptions to the number of timeouts allowed in High School Football?

– Yes, there are exceptions. In the first half, each team receives two timeouts and one 30-second injury timeout. After halftime, both teams get three timeouts, but if a team has already used two timeouts in the first half, they won’t have any additional timeouts for the second half.

Q6: What happens if a team uses more timeouts than allowed in a game?

– If a team uses more timeouts than allowed, they will face penalties, such as a loss of down (and 5 yards), loss of 5 yards from the next snap, loss of downs plus 5 yards, or loss of downs plus 10 yards.

Q7: Can teams use timeouts strategically to affect the game’s outcome?

– Yes, teams often use timeouts strategically to stop the clock, change momentum, or make crucial adjustments, which can significantly impact the game’s outcome.

Q8: Can injury timeouts be used without limitations?

– While there’s no limit to the number of injury timeouts a player can take, each team is only allowed one injury timeout per quarter. Players must also leave the game for at least one play after using an injury timeout.

Q9: Can coaches use injury timeouts as part of their strategy during gameplay?

– No, coaches can only use injury timeouts when there are genuine injuries on the field. They cannot use them as part of their strategic plans during gameplay.

Q10: How are timeouts regulated in televised games?

– In televised games, there are TV timeouts where both teams take a break simultaneously to allow commercials and give announcers time to discuss the game’s events. These timeouts do not count toward the teams’ allotted number of timeouts per game.


David is an Experienced expert person in the field of high school sports. David's journey as a sports analyst is a testament to his unwavering dedication to High School Football. Through his writing and reporting, he continues to inspire, inform, and entertain sports fans around the globe. Stay tuned for his latest stories and insights as he continues to unlock the heart of High School Football, one story at a time.

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