Boxing Out and Cleaning the Boards
Basketball rebounding is the key skill every post player needs. We'd like our post players to be a scoring threat, a shot-blocking menace, a defensive wiz. But if there was one ability absolutely necessary for a post player to have, it would be rebounding.
In particular, defensive rebounding is essential - there are plenty of top-notch post players out there who don't score much, who aren't all that tall, but who can rebound like demons. Defensive rebounding skills are especially important when we consider that the vast majority of teams will struggle just to make a 45% shooting average (NBA teams average less than 45% in most seasons). In other words, more than half the shots taken will miss. If your post players are able to get those rebounds, you've greatly reduced your opponent's abilities to put points on the board.
The good thing about defensive rebounding is that, if your post players are playing solid defense to begin with, they should already be in excellent position to rebound when the shot is put up.
Tips for Post Players
- Don't immediately turn for the rebound when the shot is taken - wait a moment to see what your opponent is going to do (more on this later)
- 70% of the time, the ball will rebound back in the same direction it was shot, and land about 2/3 of the distance back to the shooter
- Size has relatively little to do with rebounding ability - it can help, but it isn't essential to good rebounding. The more important skills are positioning and boxing out - a smaller player that can effectively box out a larger player can out-rebound him consistently - remember Charles Barkley, the round mound of rebound?
- Always, always, always, the post player needs to be aggressive and protect the ball once he gets it
The Fundamentals of Boxing Out
- When the shot goes up, many players immediately turn to the basket. Mistake. A good offensive player will not simply stand behind the defender hoping the ball comes to him - good players will work their way around the defender and get position for the rebound
- The better strategy for the defender is to wait a moment after the shot is taken, watch the offensive player to determine the direction he is going to take - is he going to try to go around the defender on the left or right?
- Once the offensive player commits to a direction, the defender then pivots appropriately and boxes him out
- The objective of boxing out your opponent is not to gain position - if the defender is playing decent defense, he should already have position - i.e., he should already be between the offensive player and the basket
- The objective of boxing out is to momentarily freeze your opponent so that the opponent can't get to the rebound - otherwise he'll just go around the defender and grab the ball
- To freeze the offensive player, the defender is going to pivot into him, making solid contact with the defender's butt hitting squarely on the offensive player's thigh
How to Box Out
There are two ways to make this contact - either pivot forward into the offensive player, or pivot backwards into the offensive player
- If the defender is guarding a player close to the hoop, there isn't much distance to the hoop and very little time before the rebound comes down - to box out in this situation, the defensive player needs to pivot forward into the offensive player
- If the offensive player is farther out, he will have more room to get around the defender, and is likely to try to put a little room between them - this situation would be better handled by the defender pivoting backwards into the offensive player
Both hits need to be hard and low - the contact needs to be on the offensive player's thigh, because that will stop him. Any higher than that will usually mean the defender will be standing too tall and have less balance - the hit will knock him over.
The defender needs to stay low in defensive stance as he makes the hit - to keep his balance when the hit comes, and to move quickly for the ball afterwards.
Start off by simply practicing the box-out movement:
- have players match up one-on-one, alternating offense and defense
- Have the offensive player try to flash past the defensive player - mixing up right and left hand flashes
- Have the defensive player box out, first by pivoting forwards, as if they were playing close to the basket; then by pivoting backwards, as if they were playing farther out on the wing
- Be sure the offensive player is making an honest effort of cutting past, and not going too far around the defensive player - in a game situation, the offensive player will try to cut in as direct a line to the basket as possible if he is seriously going for the rebound
After that, introduce the rebounding drills in the Rebounding Drills section - either the 3-on-3 Box Out Drill or the 3 Man Rebounding Drill are good choices to reinforce the need and skills of boxing out.
Post players need to always be looking to improve their basketball rebounding skills - knowing how to box out is an essential part of that.
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