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


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