I was wondering if offensive rebounding was just an innate skill. Coach McVeigh said that while nature certainly plays a role, he felt that good coaching could enhance a player’s ability to be effective on the glass. If he had to put a figure on it, he attributed about 70% of offensive rebounding as innate and 30% could be taught. Of course those percentages are really hard to work out. In any case 30% is a number worth breaking down as a coach since McVeigh later told me he believed that coaches are worth 20-30% in the overall scheme of things. Players are worth 70- 80%. Again, no science behind this but I do value the source of where it is coming from more than my own opinion.
The Three Phases of Offensive Rebounding
In terms of developing that 30%, Coach McVeigh went through three phases of teaching offensive rebounding in his career. In the early parts of his career, he ran what he called “The Bear Drill.” Three players lineup in the key, another player shoots it with the 3 players having a goal (first to five rebounds for instance). It was simply an aggressive drill that detected tough rebounding more than teaching it. The aggressive kids loved it.
Eventually he evolved to going from just lining up and hitting each other to tweaking player’s techniques. This included teaching swim moves, how to gain momentum, etc.
In the final stage of his career, McVeigh made rebounding drills more game like. Rebounding after screens, cuts, and various other game situations conditioned players to be mentally ready to go to the glass in more realistic situations. He did 3v3 and 4v4 with offensive rebounds being charted and rewarded in various ways.
So you can see why offensive rebounding is a critical area of teaching in McVeigh’s methodology. The ability to offensive rebound requires timing, spacing, physicality, and avoiding a box out. It is a tremendously difficult skill to teach and possess. But well worth the time and effort.
The Play After the Offensive Rebound
I also was thinking about how when an offensive rebound does happen, I have never heard a coach speak specifically about the play after the rebound. There is the obvious situation that a lay-up awaits an offensive rebound and on more than half of offensive rebounds it seems that going back up is a good decision. What about when it isn’t the good decision? How do you practice that and is there a good way to teach it or prepare for it?
Coach McVeigh admitted that he had never really stressed this point either, but felt it could be a very teachable aspect for coaches if they have enough marbles left in the jar for that day’s practice. He related a story where he observed Duke win a national championship with many made 3’s coming after an offensive rebound or quick tap backs for a 3-ball. He felt that Duke probably did a lot of preparation on this aspect of its game in practice, and it helped them win a national championship game.
Do Not Combine Offensive and Defensive Rebounds
One final note that coach mentioned concerning offensive rebounding was that it is the one rebounding stat that really tells you something. He believes you shouldn’t combine offensive and defensive rebounds to learn anything at halftime or after the game. In other words, defensive rebounding charts are not as telling. I had never really come to that conclusion myself, but it made complete sense.
Offensive rebounding charts on both teams tell you not only about your team’s aggressiveness on the offensive glass. They also inform you about your effectiveness with regards to defensive boxing out by charting your opponent’s offensive rebounds. Are they getting more offensive rebounds? Easy to see the importance of winning that battle. What do defensive rebounding charts show you? Does knowing the team with more defensive rebounds really help you?
For example, a player can box out the other team’s best rebounder and clear the lane for teammates, but that player will get zero credit on a defensive chart. As a stat geek, I found this to be one of the more valuable nuggets of information that my old coach threw at me on this visit. Combined with my newfound appreciation for rebounding rates, I’m going to reevaluate what is important in evaluating rebounds.
This is the final part of a five-post series with Coach McVeigh. He also discussed communication, undervalued concepts, principles he had passed on to him from outside influences, and the role of assistant coaches.