May 3, 2024 

WNBA announces changes to coach’s challenge ahead of 2024 season

Two 20-second timeouts are eliminated and replaced by a new "reset" timeout

The WNBA announced on Thursday it had made changes to the coach’s challenge and timeout format, effective at the start of the 2024 season.

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The statement noted the new rules aim to “improve the flow of the game” and add opportunities for teams to use their coach’s challenge, which was implemented for the first time in 2023. These changes were recommended by the WNBA Competition Committee and also approved by the league’s Board of Governors.

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Adding a second coach’s challenge

The coach’s challenge allows each team to call for a replay review once per game, even if the challenge is unsuccessful. In 2024, teams will now receive a second coach’s challenge if their first challenge is deemed successful. This second challenge can be used during regulation or overtime.

Teams will still need to use a timeout to trigger a challenge, meaning they cannot use their first or second challenge unless a team timeout is available. If the challenge is successful, the team will keep the timeout used to call the challenge.

“Reset” timeouts

During the 2023 season, WNBA teams began each game with four full-team timeouts and two 20-second timeouts. Starting in 2024, teams will instead receive five team timeouts and an additional “reset” timeout, which replaces the two 20-second timeouts. In overtime periods, each team will have two team timeouts and a reset timeout.

Additionally, teams will only be allowed to use two team timeouts after either the three-minute mark or second mandatory timeout of the fourth quarter, whichever is later.

The new “reset” timeout allows teams to stop play, advance the ball and make substitutions without huddling. These can be used in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime periods. To call a reset timeout, the head coach or a player would call a timeout, signal an “X” with their arms crossed and say “reset.”

If a team has no team timeouts remaining and requests a reset timeout, but did so at the incorrect time or has no reset timeouts left, that team will be charged a technical foul and will not be granted the reset.

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Washington Mystics head coach Eric Thibault said that the team has been preparing to play under a new timeout format throughout training camp.

“It’s not like it’s a secret we’re anticipating that that rule goes in, along with a few tweaks to the timeout format,” Thibault told the media. “It’s why we’re doing it now early in camp. I don’t think it’s going to be something [to try] to explain and put it in context. But we have a two-page list of all the scenario stuff we need to go through, you don’t want to save it for May 13 and then try to play opening night. So couple things each day, try to sprinkle it in while we were playing live today.”

Teams have until Monday, May 13 to make final roster cuts. The 2024 WNBA regular season begins on Tuesday, May 14.

Written by Aya Abdeen

Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next since December 2022. She is also a sports reporter for the Sun Devils’ women’s basketball team for The State Press. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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