Keys for winning the battle at the boards By James Rowe, head boys coach Woodinville High School Washington

Our team considers rebounding to be one of the most important elements to winning games. We don’t consider the total number of rebounds to be the key but rather it’s the rebounding differential that matters most. We know that if our team shoots well there won’t be as many offensive rebounds to grab. Likewise if our opponent shoots well there won’t be as many defensive rebounds to grab.

If you’re a good offensive rebounding team this increases your offensive ratings point-per-possession stats. If you’re a good defensive rebounding team it limits your opponent’s offensive stats and increases your team’s defensive stats. Rebounding is also a good indicator of other things on your team. If there are an excessive amount of offensive rebounds you may want to take a close look at your player’s shot selection. If you’re not securing many defensive rebounds you should study your perimeter defense and the opponent’s shooting percentage.

The reason our team doesn’t measure total rebounds in a game is due to the tempo of the game. It’s more accurate to measure rebounding differential in a contest. Limiting the opponent’s shot attempts should increase your defensive stats. The reason I say “should” is because you need to also keep their shooting percentage down so there are more rebounds to be grabbed.

Rebounding technique is broken down into various components consisting of the following areas:

  • Attitude. Players must play and act as if every rebound is theirs.
  • Contact. First step into the opposing player then release to the ball.
  • Block out. By using either a reverse or forward pivot.
  • Control. Players must learn to use their lower body to keep the opponents off the boards.
  • Hands. Have palms inward learn to “hold” the opponent off with the back of the hands.
  • Securing the rebound. Use two hands with elbows out chin the ball and pivot toward the outlet player.

Offensive rebounders should try to avoid contact. Dive toward the hoop if the opponent isn’t boxing out. If blocked out the offensive rebounder should use a spin move or can also step away then go back and try to hook and go around the opponent.

Rebounding drills

2-On-2 Box-Out Drill. Have the offensive players form two lines at the top of the key and the two defenders set up inside the key and facing the opponent. Place a coach on each side of the two lines each holding a ball. One of the coaches shoots and the defenders block out. The defenders have to grab rebounds on three consecutive possessions to get out of the drill and go to the offensive line. Each group of two has at least one turn on defense.

This drill really tests the defensive rebounders. as they begin to tire as the drill continues and they’re always facing a fresh offensive group.

3-On-3 Box-Out Drill. This drill is the same as the 2-on-2 drill but you can have the defensive players work out of a man or zone alignment. This drill forces defenders to account for the ball-side high-post and weak-side positions. Have the offense rotate in a triangular motion or keep them stationary. They must secure the rebound on three consecutive possessions to go on offense.

You can also modify the drill and set it up so that players need to score a point to get on defense and then work to “get out of” the drill (by grabbing three consecutive defensive rebounds). To play defense players have to score a basket or grab an offensive rebound. This increases the players will and desire to play defense.

2-On-2 Offensive Box-Outs Vs. Denials. Have the ball on one side of the floor. While one player is denying on defense his or her partner is playing help side. When a shot goes up the off-the-ball offensive rebounder has to locate his or her opponent box out and secure the offensive rebound. The shooter follows the shot using a variety of moves to get around the defender and crashes the boards.

“Rebound Wars” Drill Game. This drill is similar to a famous rebounding game that Tom Izzo uses at Michigan State. Set the number of players 5-on-5 4-on-4 3-on-3 etc. and have the players play up to a predetermined set point total. The scoring system is as follows: teams get 2 points for an offensive rebound 1 point for a defensive rebound 1 point for a basket and 2 fouls in one possession results in a point for the offense.

“Team Box-Out” Drill Game. Play a 5-on-5 block-out game. If defense gets the board they get 1 point. If offense gets the board they get 2 points. A coach shoots 20 shots. Each team has ten possessions on offense and defense. The team with the highest point total upon completion of the drill wins and the losing team pays some sort of “penalty” (sprints push-ups jump rope clean-up duties after practice etc.). The winners get a water break or some other type of small “reward.” This competitive atmosphere increases the intensity of your practices.

Tell your players that when it comes to rebounding no one will ever get mad at them if they grab too many rebounds. Tell them to remember the following basketball axiom:

  • If you shoot too much you’re considered a gunner.
  • If you dribble too much you’re considered a ball hog.
  • If you pass too much you’re not aggressive enough.
  • But if you rebound too much…you’re considered a Stallion!




75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
616.887.9008
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