No matter your height, you can get rebounds. So many basketball players think if they’re not tall, they can’t get boards. But as a collegiate 5’9” undersized power forward who averaged 10 rebounds a game, I’m here to tell you that you can. Here’s how to lead the stat sheet when it comes to rebounds.
Rebounds Are Wins
A rebound is a possession, and possessions are the key to victory. A defensive rebound is a stop, and an offensive rebound is another chance to score. The more you rebound and control the ball, the better chance your team has of winning.
Big rebounds can also change the momentum of a game. A losing team getting a couple of big offensive boards in the fourth quarter can swing the game’s tide. Meanwhile, a winning team trying to defend their lead by smothering the boards won’t let a losing team get back in the game.
When I played in college, every game, we had a team goal to win the boards. Often, the team that wins the board’s battle wins the game.
Follow These Steps to Rebound Better:
Learn to Judge the Flight of the Ball
The sooner you can tell whether a shot will be short or long, the more time you’ll have to get in position. You can hone your eye while in practice as you watch your teammates shoot. Try to judge if the ball is long or short and where the rebound will go as it’s in the air. Once you get the sense, start moving into the position where you think the ball will land during practice drills.
Play the Percentages
While you won’t be thinking statistics in a game, it is a good idea to have a general idea of where the ball is headed. Shots from the right bounce left about 80% of the time, and vice versa. Long shots lead to long rebounds: a missed three-point shot will often be rebounded around the 8ft range instead of in by the rim.
If you’ve learned to judge the flight of the ball, and you have these statistics in the back of your head, you’ll be able to get a better position for the rebound.
You’ve probably heard your coach screaming it from the sideline or harping on it in practice. Box Out. Block Out. Whatever you call it, this is an essential part of getting the rebound. It ensures your opponent has to go through you to get the ball.
The biggest step is turning and putting your butt into your opponent. Stay low and move your feet as your opponent tries to fight around you. If you are in the low post, make sure to back up so that the rebound doesn’t go over your head. If you’re on the wing, it is still vital to put a body on your defender. There is nothing worse as a post than working hard on the block out and having a wing player swoop in and steal your board.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
When the shot goes up, and everyone starts to battle for position under the rim, it is imperative to keep your eye on the ball. This way, you utilize the judgment skills you developed in practice.
Most players tend to get focused on their opponent during the box out and fighting for position. The key is to hit your defender on the box out, focus back on the ball and use your hands and body to feel where your person is and stay in front of them. When your eyes leave the ball, you lose valuable information on where it’s going. You won’t know when to jump and might miss the rebound entirely.
When a shot goes up, track the ball all the way to your hands.
Get the Ball
This is huge. It took me years to hone this skill. You can have the best box out on the block, but you won’t get many rebounds if you don’t release and go after the ball. This is where determination and grit come into play. You have to be willing to track down that ball and get it anywhere on the court.
As an offensive player, this is also a huge key to nailing offensive boards. Sometimes, your defender won’t block you out. This is a great opportunity to crash hard and get the ball.
Tip the Ball to Yourself
Most coaches will tell you to go up strong and grab the ball with both hands on a rebound. This ensures that you secure the ball, and it can’t be tapped or ripped away as you come down. If you have height on your side, this is a great strategy.
However, if you are on the shorter side and find yourself rebounding against much taller players, this may be the tip for you. When you jump and reach with one arm, you can achieve more height than jumping and reach with two (Go on, give it a try). If you jump and reach with one arm, you can often tip the ball away from an opponent and to yourself or your teammate.
The Swim Move
This tactic is great for players who are crashing the offensive boards or find themselves stuck behind their opponent. A swim move is useful for moving your opponent out of the way or getting in front of them, but you must be careful not to foul in the process.
To swim move, feign a cut in one direction, then explode back the other direction. Pair this fast footwork with your arm swinging over your opponent’s outstretched arm to push it down and out of the way. Move into space you have created. You mustn’t grab or pull on your defender’s arm. That is a foul and will be called.
Check out this video to see how it’s done.
Rebounds are Grit
At the end of the day, rebounding comes down to how much you want it. Once you’ve practiced the techniques and tips here, it comes down to heart and a little luck. Great rebounders are willing to track down the ball no matter where it is on the court. It doesn’t matter how tall you are; what matters is your heart, hustle, and how bad you want it.