Rebounding is all about Momentum (or Limiting It)

Rebounding is one of the easiest and most difficult skills and abilities to coach. Unlike other skills, it requires motor, hustle, anticipation and consistency to be effective. In my experience, the best rebounders I’ve coached have either been naturally gifted and aggressive at rebounding or have been the hardest workers on the floor building great habits that helped them excel.

In each case, they’ve been tremendous at controlling momentum, either embracing it themselves or limiting it for their opponents with box-outs. This post will explain the concepts and how we teach it.

Limiting Momentum with Box-outs

Any coach worth their salt will teach boxing out as the best way to rebound the basketball. Like other teams, we use rebounding box-out drills, recognize players in practice, in games and on film for good box outs and consistently track our success over the season.

It’s all about the 3 F’s: Find, Forearm and Fetch.

  • Find: Find the ball and the man. This also means communicating with your teammates to ensure you don’t box the same player.
  • Forearm: This is about establishing contact and a seal on your opponent to ensure they need to go over the top to get a rebound.
  • Fetch: Once a box out is established, you are not done. You now need to find your base and be ready to fetch the ball should it come into your zone. This is integral especially when giving up size as you won’t get over the back calls if you stay low in a box out.

This is pretty standard way of teaching these principles but the key for us is that we emphasize this consistently throughout practice and in games. You can’t just emphasize in rebounding drills especially if you want to build habits in your players. This might be stopping practice and pointing out a good or bad box-out and showing on film to individual players to recognize their efforts in the games.

We often cut highlights of good box outs in Hudl for each individual player. Check out our Hudl basketball review for more details on this.

We also emphasize a focus of stopping the momentum of the opposing player. It’s not enough to just stick the box-out but to continue it through the defensive possession. There cannot be any free runs through the lane on our team.

The other key to the box out we teach is on offensive rebounds. We have a number of players who crash the boards and we teach them to create a seal when appropriate on offensive possessions. Sneak under the defender and then create space with a solid box out. This takes the defensive player out of the play and gets us a potential over the back call or rebound.

Run to Space on the Crash

In terms of rebounding, I hear a ton about boxing out and it’s important but one thing that we teach is also the importance of momentum in offensive rebounding. The philosophy is simple. If you have two players going for a rebound the one with the best position and strength typically wins. However, if one is jumping towards the ball and another is flat-footed or jumping vertically, most likely the player with momentum will get the rebound.

A good box out limits momentum of the other player, making them flatfooted so their elevation is limited. But if that offensive player finds space, game over.

For offensive players, we like to teach them to crash in the path of least resistance. This is an overview of the key areas of emphasis:

  • Anticipate a shot: As the ball swings, the best offensive rebounders already get to work. They begin to see an open shot and get into advantageous position to capitalize.
  • Get to space and build momentum: Don’t watch the shot but immediately go around the box outs and find a path to the lane that has the least resistance. A good box out team will take these opportunities away. The key here is that we don’t want to crash in a straight line through a defender but want to force them to move and make a play on us as an offensive player. Create as much chaos as possible.
  • Locate the ball and read the rim: Once you make your way into the lane; find the ball. Will it be long or short? What part of the rim will it hit? Where do I think it will land? This takes time to master but with momentum already stocked up, making an educated guess toward the location the ball will be puts you at a distinct advantage.
  • Go get the ball: Catch the ball at it’s apex. If you guessed right, you’ll be able to have a great opportunity for an extra offensive possession. And the key here is that the defensive rebounder will need to do 3 things really well to prevent you from grabbing the ball. And the Fetch part of the box out (see above) is often an afterthought for most defenders. Advantage offense.
  • Get back: This is incredibly important. If you don’t get the rebound, don’t play defense on the rebounder. Immediately high-tail it back on defense. You don’t want to commit a foul 90 feet from the hoop and often this is where all our cheap fouls occur.

Now, this is a lot to teach a kid and at the end of the day it’s very instinctual. Out of the above, we will really harp on anticipation, making the defense work (don’t go up the back) and getting back on defense.

I love offensive rebounding. It rewards aggression and anticipation and it punishes lack of effort on the other side. It also remains a consistent if not more impactful weapon as the game continues on. With tired defenders not having the mental or physical energy to focus on the box out.

Players that embrace good rebounding habits succeed

This past season was our 4th year at Saugus and it was our best. We won the league title for the first time in 25 years and it was all due to the tremendous group of individuals we had day in and day out led by our 3 senior captains Olivia Valente, Krissy Italiano and Katie Italiano. And all three set the example on the rebounding side of the game.

From day 1, Olivia was an offensive rebounding menace. She treated every shot as if it would miss and in turn dominated the offensive glass. Always a part of her game, it was her hard work in practicing on finishing around the basket after these offensive rebounds that made her an All-NEC player her senior year. Krissy was one of the hardest working players in the NEC and you saw it on every defensive rebound. We put her up against the tallest player on every team and let’s just say they didn’t look forward to offensive rebounds with the box-outs she delivered on a consistent basis. Best of all she did this with no ego, knowing that the box-out freed up her teammates for rebounds even if she didn’t get them. Katie was the one that no-one wanted to go up against in rebounding drills. All-out effort in practice she truly set the tone for the effort that was needed in practice.

You don’t build a culture of rebounding just yourself. You need the players to buy-in and lead by example in drills and in games to build great habits. We were lucky enough to have 3 captains that embraced both sides of rebounding momentum!


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