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Keys to Rebounding

This is an excerpt from Basketball for Women-2nd Edition by Nancy Lieberman.

Keys to Rebounding

The three keys to rebounding are positioning, boxing out, and using your leverage. Don't be afraid to “hit” your opponent—to make contact with her (your buttocks to her knees). Don't hesitate to, in basketball slang, “lay a body” on someone under the boards while you are jockeying for position. Let your opponent know that this is your area and your rebound.


Work hard to keep your body between the opposing player and the basket. Keep this position as you contest the shot, putting a hand in the shooter's face to distract her (figure 10.1a). If she is right-handed, put your left hand up. If she's a lefty, your right hand goes up. You never want to cross your body; this will cause you to be off balance and out of position. After the shot, maintain your position between your opponent and the basket by turning and pivoting. Create some contact so you feel where that player is (figure 10.1b). Box her out for 2 or 3 seconds (we'll talk about this next). Then, go for the rebound and keep her behind you. Be physical and aggressive on both boards. Jumping ability is important, but not more important than good positioning.

Boxing Out

If you are on defense, you should have the advantage because of your rebounding position. Defensive rebounding means boxing (or blocking) out. This is accomplished properly when the defensive rebounder uses a front or reverse pivot to box out a player. There must be contact. After pivoting, use your rear end to make contact with your opponent(figure 10.2a), which prevents her from going forward to rebound the ball. Move quickly to release from the contact and go to the ball (figure 10.2b).

In player-to-player defense, each player is responsible for boxing out the person she is guarding. In a zone, players are responsible for boxing out the offensive player in a specific area. Remember to position yourself between the offensive player and the basket. Don't let players push you too far under the basket. This will take you out of good rebounding position.

When covering a shooter after a long-range shot, you should turn and follow the shot with your eyes. Pivot and feel where the shooter is. Once you have boxed her out, go for the rebound. If you rebound too quickly, the shooter can go around you without any contact. Also, on outside shots, if the rebound comes out long and you have rushed to the basket too quickly, the ball can carom over your head.

If you're facing a great offensive rebounder, forget about the rebound. Turn around and guard her, playing her numbers to numbers to keep her off the board.

Using Leverage

To have leverage, you must get low and have good balance. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Assume a “sitting” position, and box out your opponent at her knees. This allows you to be quicker and to explode to the basket, or it enables you to continue boxing out your opponent. You can avoid being pushed out of your rebounding position by staying low. The lower you are, the better.


  • Pursue the ball. Have determination and desire. Great rebounders think that every miss is their rebound.
  • Box out. Establish your ground and get position quickly. Getting position takes hard work and anticipation. Have your hands ready. Know the angles and percentages from where shots are taken. Positioning is a function of savvy and hard work. Don't let players push you too far under the hoop.
  • Have balance and be big. Keep your knees flexed, arms out, and feet shoulder-width apart. Putting your rear end out creates space. Someone might be called for going over your back because of this.
  • Remember that timing is everything. If you jump for the rebound and the ball is still hitting the rim, all your hard work won't pay off.
  • Work on having good hands. Be strong and relaxed. Fingertip control can help you get a rebound that you didn't think you could get. Great rebounders can give themselves a second chance by tipping the ball to an open area.
  • Use everything you have to protect the ball. That's why we have elbows, knees, and bodies. Most important, when you do grab the ball, keep it high. Don't bring it down for opponents to steal. Be aware that players will be slapping at it.
  • Be strong and aggressive. This is a great combination. Great rebounders have a special desire and determination. They have an attitude and mental toughness. If you're going to rebound, come strong into the paint or don't come at all.

Read more about Basketball for Women, Second Edition by Nancy Lieberman.

More Excerpts From Basketball for Women 2nd Edition