For most kids playing the game today, the rebound is a lost art. You will watch many a game with kids waiting for the ball to come to them and where they are standing. Rebounding is just as much or more work than shooting, posting up or defense. There is a price to be paid for rebounding that not many people are willing to pay. You have to be willing to react when a shot is made and be responsible for a player and then crash hard when the ball is up at the backboard.
It is no easy task, but the team that rebounds the best, wins the game – there is no question about that.
Rebounders must be the best person on the floor at reading the game. Not only how players move around, but how the ball is going to react on the backboard or rim. Position is important and timing is crucial, and it is all part and parcel of reading how the play develops.
Let’s go through some of the aspects of rebounding that will make you a better player.
By far the most crucial element of a successful rebounder, but often times the most overlooked. Players wait for rebounds to come to them, they don’t create situations where the can get the rebounds. That is what boxing out is all about — Giving yourself the best opportunity to get the rebound. It’s tough, but it is worth it.
When you box out you have to keep a couple of things in mind. Your body is your biggest asset. You need to use your body to your advantage to be a good rebounder. Proper positioning when you box out can mean the difference between snaring the ball, or giving it up to your opponent.
• Always be aware of where the opposition players are. Often you aren’t going to be boxing out a player who is covering you or who you are covering. You box out the player who has the best chance at out rebounding you.
Defensive rebound: If you are playing a man-to-man defense you always need to be aware of where your check is. When a shot goes up you need to find your man. Manuever your body into a position where your hips and torso are in the way of your opposition. They can’t try and get by you physically, or they will be called for a foul. The person who is properly boxed-out is helpless.
For a solid box out position you should have your feet shoulder-width apart; you should sink your behind a bit, and sit back in your stance. Make your body as solid a possible.
When executing the box out, get the girth of your body (hips) into the mid-section of the defender. You can use your position to drive your opponent from the basket.
When playing a zone defense, you are responsible for anyone coming through your zone, and that includes boxing them out when they are there. Sometimes you will get two or more people in your zone at any one time and you need to be able to make the decision which one of them is the most likely to get the rebound. That is the person you box out.
Here is a good tip when you are boxing out on defense. Create a “no-rebound” zone – a place where you are not going to let anyone in. Be very conscious of anyone going in and out of that zone and be prepared when a shot goes up to block anyone who is in your zone.
Your coach will never get upset at you for boxing anyone out. If you can box people out, you eliminate one possible offensive rebounder from reaching the ball. You also put yourself into position for get the rebound.
Offensive rebound – You still have every right to the ball on offence. You can apply all of the same principles of the defensive rebound to that of the offensive rebound. Boxing out is important, but it may be difficult to get your body in front of the defending player.
This is where your attention to what is going on in the game will pay huge dividends. On offence, you have the knowledge of where a play is going and where it will end with a shot. You can anticipate when your teammate is going to shoot the ball and you can find the position to box out.
Boxing out is equally important on the offensive boards as it is on the defensive side of the ball. You aren’t going to get too many rebounds if you are on the wrong side of the box out.
Here are a couple of drills you can use to practice your boxing out:
Grab a partner and start as though you are covering them on defense. Have them take a shot and mentally go through the steps you need to take to get proper position on them. Find the space you want to defend and then get your body in the way. Have your partner go half speed after the rebound, just so you can get used to getting position on the play and then have them go full speed after you start getting more comfortable with making sure you are in the proper position. You can even switch it up to try and gain offensive position by having the shooter try and gain position after the shot.
The next drill is more of a team drill, but can be done with as few as three players.
If you have a full team practice, set up five guys in a zone defense. Have three players play the offensive side of the ball. The three players on offence should quickly move the ball around the perimeter, trying to stretch the defense out and give themselves lanes to get offensive rebounds.
The defensive players should be moving with the ball like they would in a zone defense. They should be ready to move into box out position when one of the offensive players takes a shot.
When the offensive player takes a shot, have them drive to the hoop to get the offensive rebound. The defensive players should have identified the player taking the shot and they have to squeeze the shooter out of the play by boxing them out.
To make the drill more difficult have all three of the offensive players crash the boards, instead of just the shooter. It will force the off-side players to make sure their head is in the game by boxing out the players who aren’t involved in the play.
Another bonus drill, if you have just one other player with you, is to see how long you can box each other out. The offensive player has to try and get position and the defensive player has to try and keep him away from the basket. You do this drill with no ball.
Timing your rebound
After you have boxed your opponent out, you need to make sure you time your rebound properly. There is nothing worse than going up for a rebound too soon and having your opponent swipe the ball from over your head because you jumped to early. But, you can’t sit and wait for the ball to come to you, because your opponent will grab it before you get your feet out the cement.
Learning the proper timing is something that comes with experience and practice. You have to be able to read how the ball might react when it hits the backboard or rim, then you have to be ready to spring into action.
You want to get the ball at its highest point, after it hits the backboard or rim. A good rule of thumb when timing when to go after a rebound is when it bounces off the rim, when it reaches the highest point off the bounce that is when you should jump. If you try and jump for the ball right when it hits the rim, when you reach the height of your jump, unless you have a 45” vertical, the ball will be at its highest point and you will likely miss it. If you wait for it to come down after the ball reaches its apex, you are already to late and your opponent is moving the ball down the court on the fast break.
A good drill to help you with the timing is to take a shot from about 5 or 6’ out, and purposely miss the shot and then step up and try and time your rebound. You will essentially pop up the shot, get into a quick box out position and then spring to the rebound. You can do this drill on your own.
Another drill that you can do on your own, is a common one for players at all levels of basketball.
Stand in front of the backboard and throw the ball up and just continuously jump and rebound the ball back up in to the backboard. You can do this one until you are tired. This will help your timing and it will also help your hands because you have to catch and re-release the ball each time you jump up for the rebound.
Going up for the ball
After you have position and you have timed your jump perfectly go up strong and right after the ball. Put both hands in the air and grab the ball. It drive coaches crazy to see a player go up and swat at a rebound thinking they are going to end up batting it to a player on their own side. Just like the rule goes in football – if you can get one hand on it, you can probably get two. Catch the ball in the air and control it for your team.
A good rebounder goes to the hoop with a purpose. Within the rules of physical contact, the rebound specialist fights for position and then boxes out so they can steal rebounds.
A great player to watch in his prime, was Dennis Rodman. Rodman was one of the fiercest rebounders in the modern NBA. He fought for position, he fought in the air and he continued fighting for the ball on the ground.
When you go up for rebounds you have to go hard. If you want to be good you can’t just willy-nilly and hope the rebound comes to you. You have to go and get the rebound.