In the first defensive installment of the Player Coach Series, we're starting with the finish, first. Meaning, we are going to start talking about defense by stressing the value and importance of rebounding.
The most welcoming aspect of rebounding is that anyone can be a good rebounder. It’s a skill that any player can develop, but it takes dynamic effort in order to truly become successful. As a Player Coach, defensive rebounding should be just as high on your priority list as shooting. It is important and critical, not only to your own player development, but also to your team's success in the game. In my experience I have found that out of all the factors, rebounding most impacts the outcome of the game.
The first thing you must understand: Rebounding has nothing to do with height, weight, speed or strength; it’s all about technique and will.
When you are rebounding the basketball, the key with your technique is positioning. You have to be in the right position in order to have consistent success.
Great rebounders make sure they are always in great position. Being in the right position includes:
1. Being low. Always be lower than the other player you are rebounding against.
2. Being physical. Demand the space that you want to occupy, and welcome the battle under the basket.
3. Pursuing the ball. Always have your hands up when the ball is in the air, and have them up before the ball hits the rim*.
*Sometimes the ball hits the rim hard, and those hard bricks come off the rim fast. It’s important to keep your hands high the whole time so that you may react to the ball quicker and pursue it faster.
To finish the rebound, remember that it essentially comes down to reaction and timing.
Please note that these are two skills that may take time to develop, depending on your natural abilities. Do not get frustrated in the technical process; instead work on developing consistent habits and focus on correctly positioning yourself for success.
The one thing that makes or breaks you as a rebounder is determined by your will, which is purely heart and effort. It’s simple: your will has to be stronger than the other 9 players on the court.
You must have an “every ball is mine” mentality. You have to think to yourself, “if I’m in the correct position, that ball is mine” whenever the ball is shot.
No matter what techniques you use to get a rebound, no technique can ever match the power of sheer will and determination. The passionate effort you make in chasing after rebounds can make up for any lack of skill, height, strength, and quickness. If you are a strong-willed player, use it to your advantage in rebounding.
Work smarter, not harder
Rebounding is about being smart as well. If the person you are guarding has any advantages over you (ex: taller, faster, more explosive, etc.), make sure that you recognize it and try to combat the disadvantage by being in the best position. The key when you are outmatched physically is to make sure that your weaknesses aren’t exploited.
One way to prevent that from happening is to always check, and then turn and box when the shot goes up.
Checking means quickly turning to see who’s around. You don’t have much time to execute this, but this is especially important for when you find yourself going against a bigger, stronger, or faster player. It is essential that you recognize who is around you.
If you are a post player, do not skip the checking stage! For example, you might be in a situation where there aren’t any other post players around you, but there might be a guard running in from the outside. It is important that you recognize who the rebounders are and identify which one poses the biggest threat.
Turn and box
After you’ve checked for nearby players, you want to quickly find the biggest physical threat and then turn (facing the basket) to box them out. There are many different techniques that apply for different coaches, but in order to box out most effectively, make sure you remember these two keys: maintain a low position with your legs and keep your hands up and ready to react to the ball.
For small guards, it might be more effective to face guard a player who has a size advantage over you. Face guarding is when you face the player you are trying to box out (back should be to the basket in this case), and you are essentially taking them out of the play by forcing them out of their position. The idea in this strategy is that you probably won’t get the rebound, but neither will they.
Don't forget: You can certainly take too many shots, but you can NEVER get too many rebounds!
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach