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
defensive 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
- 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
Like so much else in basketball, this is all about footwork. 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.