If there’s one thing I want all of my players to know when they’re on defense, it’s this: it’s not over until our team rebounds. To a lot of players, this will be obvious. They know that they’re not on offense until one of their teammates has secured possession of the ball.

There’s always that one player though, the one who thinks that he or she will get a start on the next play by booking it down the court as soon as the opposing team whiffs their shot. It’s crucial for players to focus their attention where it’s needed. When they’re on defense, it needs to be on the zone or player that they’re guarding. And that attention needs to stay there until their team has rebounded!

Why else is rebounding important? Because, in a youth league, you and your players should assume that any shot that’s taken is going to miss. Especially if we’re talking about middle school or younger! Players at that age will only be shooting somewhere around 30%. With that many misses, your players are going to be rebounding a lot! Teaching your players how to rebound successfully will lead to more scoring opportunities for your team, which, in turn, will win them games.

So, today I’m going to talk about how to end your team’s defense, about how to rebound. First, for those of you that don’t know much about rebounding, let’s get a little bit of a textbook definition out on the table. A rebound is when a player successfully takes possession of the ball after the opposing team’s shot. Pretty simple, right?

Yet there are a thousand rebounding techniques out there. As a player, parent, or even a coach, it can be overwhelming trying to determine the best one to teach your team. Today we’re just going to talk about the basics of rebounding. For a lot of players, especially younger ones, it will take them a while just to master those.

The foundation of a good rebound is boxing the other player out. This is when the defensive player places him or herself between an offensive player and the basket. The appropriate form for boxing out is largely contextual, but the basic form looks like this.

Credit: Zoe Ruff

As you can see, this player has their knees bent, and their arms out. When the ball goes up, the defensive player should pivot into this position, making sure to place him or herself into this position. This puts them in an ideal position to rebound the ball if it comes their way. At minimum, they should make it a lot harder for the offense to get off their play!

For those of you that work with younger players, take note! Successfully boxing out an offensive player requires the defensive player to make, and then maintain, contact with that player. This can be uncomfortable for many younger players. If your players are having issues with the contact nature of basketball, I recommend having them run some of the drills we went over in our post on picks and screens. Those drills require your players to make contact with each other, which will in time make them more comfortable with it.

Common Mistakes while Boxing Out

Typically, if a foul is called when a defensive player is boxing out an offensive player, it will be an offensive foul. It’s much easier for the offensive player to foul. All he or she has to do is push back on the defensive player.

For the defensive player, it’s harder to foul, but can still happen if your player gets caught up in the heat of the moment. If, while boxing out, the defensive player pushes the offensive player with an open hand, or grabs them, that will be called as a foul.

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