How to Improve Basketball Rebounding:  Tips, Drills and Fundamentals

Few statistics influence the outcome of the game as do rebounding stats. Few statistics are indicators of as many things as are rebounding stats. Few actions affect more parts of the game as rebounding.

Rebounding can be an indicator of how hard you are playing, team focus, how well you are shooting, etc. The other benefits are rewards for playing good defense by getting the ball off the defensive glass and lay-ups for grabbing offensive rebounds. Both situation feed your confidence and allow you to play better.

Just how important is rebounding to your team's success? It's critical and here's why:

For starters, very few teams make 50% of their first shot attempts. If you were to actually study that, you will see that, at the very highest level (NBA) teams are in the 43% range. As you move down, through college and then to high school you will notice that the percentages go down to the mid 30's. Keep in mind that we are talking about 1st shots. Teams that consistently shoot near the 50% range are usually good in 2 areas, making lay-ups and getting offensive rebounds that turn into made lay-ups.

Another thing to consider is that every rebound is a possession. If you get a defensive rebound, that gives you a possession and a chance to score on the other end. If you shoot, miss and get the offensive rebound, you have is an additional possession in which you have a chance to score. Most importantly, it is an additional possession that you have gained without the other team having a chance to score.

Number of possessions is a very important reference point. The more possessions you have the less efficient you have to be on offense, the lower shooting percentage you have to have to attain the same number of points. It is more probable you will  get 40 points by shooting 20 for 50 (40%) than the same number of points by shooting 20 for 40 (50%). If you shoot 20 for 60 (33%) you will still have 40 points. Shooting 20 for 30 (66%) still gives you 40 points but doesn't happen very often.

Am I saying that it is better to shoot lower percentages? Certainly not. I am saying that it happens more often and it is more practical to practice and plan for missed shots because they usually happen more often than made shots. It is what happens to those missed shots that give you additional possessions, possessions that give you an opportunity to score while robbing your opponent of the same opportunity.

That is what decides games.

How Do We Become Good Rebounders?

I think there are 3 things that lead to good rebounding:

  1. Knowledge

  2. Skill

  3. Determination
Notice that nowhere in those 3 aspects is the size or strength. I am not saying that doesn't help but think about this, Paul Silas, at 6'6' didn't become one of the greatest offensive rebounders of all time because of his size. There were plenty of 6'6' players around but they could not do what Silas did. Bill Russell didn't become one of the greatest rebounders of all time because he was 6'9". There were plenty of bigger and stronger players around but they couldn't do what Russell could. Another, more current example would be Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat. At 6'8", Haslem is drastically undersized to play power forward in the NBA. Yet, for the past 3 years he has been a leader in rebounds per minutes played.

How do they accomplish what they do?


Good rebounders understand the game and personnel. They study who shoots, when and from where. I know that that might be difficult when playing an opponent you have not seen before, but tendencies become apparent as the game unfolds. Be that as it may, there is no reason you can't study your own teammates. If you know Joey likes to shoot the ball from the right corner, instead of working on something that is going to be non-productive, get yourself in a position to rebound when Joey gets the ball in the right corner. That is preparation that will allow you to overcome most players you have to rebound against.

The next thing good rebounders understand is where the ball will go. Shots taken from the wing down to the baseline rebound back at the same angle or over at an opposite angle 80% of the time. Only 20% of shots rebound to the front of the rim.


Shots taken above the foul line extended to the top of the key rebound 60% to the sides and 40% to the front of the rim. Good rebounders are proactive. Study where the shots come from and react accordingly before the ball misses. You might miss a few but you will get a lot.


Good rebounders also understand that a long shot often produces a long rebound. Not always, but you have to play percentages. How long will the rebound be? Well that would be purely a guess. However, while we understand that being close to the rim is good for rebounding, you can be too close. Assume that EVERY shot will be a long rebound and position yourself as such. A good guide for position is the NBA charge/block arc in the lane. That is about the area you want to get to on a missed shot.


The skills of rebounding are simple: prepare your hands, block out, catch the ball. As simple as it sounds, these are skills that have to be practiced.

Drill To Get Your Hands Up

McHale Taps

On the right side of the backboard, jump and dribble the ball off the backboard with your right hand. Time your jump so you dribble the ball while you are in the air. Pick a spot on the backboard to dribble at so you are not just batting the ball up. Do not bounce between dribbles, each jump is a dribble. With each dribble with your right hand, touch the rim with your left hand. If you can't get the rim, try to get the net.

Switch sides and hands

Work up to 50 taps or 2 minutes.

Drill to Get Your Hands Ready


Start on the right side. Grab the ball with 2 hands, jump and bang the ball on the backboard, as hard as you can, 3 times. On the 4th jump, put the ball in the basket. If you can't get the backboard, use the wall.

Change sides.

Work up to 20 bangs

Keep the ball over your head. No rest or winding up between jumps.

Drill to Box Out


While the shortest distance between 2 points might be a straight line, the same cannot be said of a rebound. While you can play the odds (see knowledge), trying to predict where a rebound will carom is like predicting how a football will roll after landing on its point. Balls hit hands, hits the rim multiple times, players are pushed out of position -- there are 2nd and 3rd chances when you did not think you had one chance. You have to condition yourself that you can get every rebound and go after it again and again until you grab it.

Boxing Out

Boxing on a rebound is very important. However, it is not as important as getting the ball. Boxing is a momentary action intended to impede the path of an opponent and delay his ability to go after the ball. I have seen many games lost due to a great box out but nobody went after the ball.

In addition, boxing out is a confusing term. Previously we discussed rebounding position (around the NBA block/charge line). What would you do if your opponent is inside of you in that rebounding position? You can't box him out because he is inside of you. I would box him in, turn and push him toward the basket. What if you are under the basket with your defender on your back? Would you box him out into good rebounding position? I would turn and box him in, under the basket.

When boxing out, find your man as soon as a shot goes up. Pivot in the most comfortable and efficient way you can, into an athletic position that looks like you are sitting on a chair. Immediately your arms go up, your elbows go out and your hands get ready to grab the ball. We discussed above the reasons for getting your arms up and hands ready (see skills). The purpose for getting your elbows out is NOT to hit anyone, but it does make you wider and more difficult to go around. In this position, bump your man with your butt and then go after the ball.

Boxing out (or in) is not only a defensive maneuver but can be an offensive maneuver as well. Use it any time you are in position to do so. Be aggressive and take control of the situation. Don't wait for your man to make a move, go and get him before he has a chance to move.

Remember, to be a good rebounder or a good rebounding team doesn't necessarily mean you get every rebound, just be sure your opponent doesn't get it.

The Truth About Rebounding

Technique will certainly help any rebounder, however rebounding is one area in basketball where you can excel with out technique. True greatness in rebounding, either as an individual or as a team lies in the emphasis and the value you place on it.

Jim Calhoun, the great coach at the University of Connecticut, says you should be able to walk into a practice and within 15 minutes you should be able to figure out what is important to the coach and the team. If you look at his teams, going all the way back to his days at Boston State and Northeastern, you will see that his teams are always one of the leaders in the nation in rebounding. Rebounding is a prominent feature in his offensive and defensive schemes. When you walk into his practice, it is evident immediately how important rebounding is to him and his team. In addition, one of the "Laws of Learning" is "primacy" (what is learned first is learned best). In Coach Calhoun's practices, the first drills they do every day are rebounding drills.

If you want to be great rebounders, learn from that.

Related Articles and Products

Basketball Rebounding Tips & Drills eBook

More Rebounding Drills (for coaches)

More Rebounding Drills (for players)

3 Simple Steps to Improve Rebounding

How to Box Out and Chin the Ball

Post Play Workouts With The Attack And Counter Workout App - Workouts For All Positions

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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vicki says:
10/30/2007 at 6:45:19 AM

I thought it was excellent.
I have never seen anything dissect the game so simply.


Diahann Mayo says:
10/30/2007 at 7:02:54 AM

I thought this was great. I work with alot of people at the begin of them venturing into coaching and I can say this will help the alot.

I train coaches on how to coach and manage a team. So if you could add some tips on movtiation and self development as a coach that would be great.

Diahann Mayo


Saranya says:
10/30/2007 at 8:29:45 AM

I play the role of a pivot in my team and even have to play rebound since I'm quite tall.So I've benefited a lot after reading this.....great goin guys


Coach E says:
11/1/2007 at 11:56:31 AM

In boxing out can you explanin or tell me a site I can go to. Where I can see how the boxing is done. Below is the statement you made which what I'm referring to:

"can’t box him out because he is inside of you. I would box him in, turn and push him toward the basket. What if you are under the basket with your defender on your back? Would you box him out into good rebounding position? I would turn and box him in, under the basket".


Joe (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
11/1/2007 at 12:26:51 PM

Coach E,

Unfortunately, we don't have anything available to view this technique. We also don't know of any websites to go to in order to view this. We hope to have some pictures or videos available in the future. Thanks for the input.



Don Kelbick says:
11/2/2007 at 1:15:30 PM

Coach E

Try to visualize this: The man who you are going to try to box out is between you and the basket in the middle of the lane. You are faced with 2 choices:

1 - try to get around him and box him AWAY from the basket. This would involve you, somehow, getting between him and the basket, getting into boxout position and then boxing him out towrd the foul line.

2- Turn to boxout position immediately, such that your position would actually have you FACING the foul line. You then box him TOWARD the basket so the rebound would the bounce over him and he cannot grab the ball.

In the situation above, I would choose option number 2. Remember, it is not important that you get the rebound, it is important that he doesn't get it.

If you need help with boxout position, that would be a different issue.

Don Kelbick
Contributing Editor Breakthrough Basketball


loreto says:
11/4/2007 at 6:21:32 PM

I'm coaching our high school basketball team, the techniques and inputs shared especially on rebounding gives me a better idea on how to play the game... thank you very much.


unknown says:
3/17/2008 at 10:23:00 PM

i just want to ask that is that have any skill that no need boxup then can take the rebound???
because i'm center, but i'm lazy to boxup.... pls give me some suggestion...
and also tell me some technique that can improve my jumping.. cos i think i can jump higher than now, but i dunno how to improve...


mohamed abou hussein says:
4/20/2008 at 5:28:24 AM

i was searching for egyptian coatch for training plz send me his phone number and his name


cassie says:
6/17/2008 at 4:16:45 PM

i like playinq ball


Kimberly says:
7/6/2008 at 5:53:21 PM

I am coaching 4 and 5 years old at the YMCA not playing to win just teaching fundamentals. I don't know very much about basketball and have not coached before what should I be teaching 4 and 5 year olds. Dribble and Shoot???? What is most important for them to start out learning?? What are some Drills good for their age?


Joe Haefner says:
7/9/2008 at 5:05:53 PM

Hi Kimberly,

If it were up to me, I wouldn't even introduce basketball to children until they are at least 8 or 9 years old. It's hard for them to do much. It's also more beneficial to their athletic development to practice other sports such as soccer, martial arts, gymnastics, and swimming in their preteen years.

Anways, we have answered a question similar to this on this page:

Hope that helps.

Joe Haefner


William says:
7/19/2008 at 7:07:53 AM

Thanks, it's so helpful!


nico says:
8/6/2008 at 12:47:46 AM

I am not to good in playing basketball but i want to improve my playing skills....Can i ask you to tell me how to play a good center and power forward?thnx for the info in good rebounding......


Joe Haefner says:
8/6/2008 at 3:54:24 PM

Hi Nico,

You can check out advice on post play at this link:


Sharni says:
9/8/2008 at 10:33:27 PM

Wow thanks You have made my basketball so much easier to undrestand :)


Victor says:
6/13/2010 at 10:00:00 AM

Great drills easy and effective. My coaching skills have improved very much.And my team is doing great 5-0 record thanks again and keep the good work.
Puerto Rico


jeff says:
1/17/2011 at 12:48:35 AM

Hi I am one of the tallest kids on my team at 5'10 but I get very few rebounds. Perhaps some of this comes from my lack of leaping ability, since I can barely touch the net. Anyway, I've tried boxing out and it doesn't seem to work - the ball usually bounces over my head. I've considered picking a spot 5 feet from the basket to camp out and hope the ball bounces my way, because I have very little shot at getting the rebound otherwise. No one ever passes me the ball in the game (slight exaggeration) so I have to get much of my touches from rebounding. I need serious help!

  1 reply  

Jensen Stephens says:
1/20/2015 at 10:31:08 AM

jeff maybe your under the basket. you cant get rebounds from exactly under the basket. im 15 and 5'7 and i sadly have the responsibility of playing center so i had to learn ow to get all the boards too.


Joe Haefner says:
1/30/2011 at 10:42:05 AM

Jeff, just keep working. Make sure to study this article again. If you keep working hard and consistently box out, the rebounds will come your way.


Ken says:
5/31/2012 at 12:48:56 PM

Somebody commented on rebounding - saying that he who controls the rebounds controls the game....

Partially true. I believe that whoever controls the tempo controls the game. JMO


william watler says:
10/2/2013 at 3:10:01 PM

this is bullshit


kyle says:
1/22/2014 at 12:05:44 AM

But some people should read this before they decide to coach, I'm a highschool player and I went from 30pts a game off layups in jr high too 10 off Kenneth faried style points, id never be scoring without rebounding


Old Rebounder says:
2/20/2014 at 10:13:37 PM

Key to rebounding? Being a pest! How do all those little guys get the boards? Heart! Playing with a chip on their shoulder.

Have the mindset that playing basketball without rebounding is unacceptable. Be willing to throw yourself against players bigger than you and battle at all costs.

Spectating is for fans and players who sit on the bench. You want to spectate while the shot goes up, those will be your options.

It really is frame of mind. Understand the percentage, watch the flight of the ball and get good at judging its path afterwards, and be willing to get physical with contact on somebody.


Anderson Simon says:
11/30/2014 at 4:18:27 AM

My name is Anderson Simon,am Tanzanian people and am playing Basketball in Power Forward Position.My Height is 7 feet and 8 inch,so i need to study in Michigani Basketball College,so i need support.THANKS!


salamodin t. bohary says:
12/4/2015 at 6:39:35 PM

I'll try it.I hope it can help me.


Stephanie says:
4/14/2016 at 1:19:04 AM

Question- My daughter plays Jr. high basketball, When going for the rebound, should all players be going for the ball and blocking the other team or should at least one player hang back just a little so when their team does get the ball they have someone to throw to and they can run it down for the lay up?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
4/14/2016 at 6:33:23 AM

Definitely ask your coach this question. Every coach has a different philosophy. Most coaches want to secure the rebound first and everyone blocks out. But not all coaches want this. Check with the coach.


sid says:
4/29/2016 at 1:33:08 PM

very good did help me thnx


Morgan Freeman says:
11/30/2016 at 11:28:06 AM

i play the poistion of "water boy", my coach tells me it takes knowledge in fundamentals to play this position.... i mad da team


Van Alex says:
9/3/2018 at 6:16:40 PM

Hey I was wondering if there are any more drills that are good for practicing rebounding by yourself


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