I feel the most important statistic in determining who wins a basketball game is rebound margin, i.e. the percent of total number of rebounds in the game. Obviously rebounding is influenced by forcing our opponents to take difficult shots while getting good shots ourselves and leading in turnover margin.

However, over the years if we have gotten 58% of the rebounds in a given game we have won every time. We have finished in first or second place in our league 14/16 years and have been first in rebounding margin 9 of those 16 years and second 3 times.

Rebounding from the defensive end requires every person to be responsible to block someone out, to hold their block out assignment from getting the ball, and then to come back to get the ball themselves. I place a greater emphasis to our guys on keeping our opponent from getting the ball than on do on us getting the ball.

I think this helps us hold our block out longer. I also think our guys will go get the ball naturally when it comes off the rim, however, we certainly emphasize this as well.

Defensively, when the shot goes up, we teach our players to turn their head and look for their block out assignment, to initiate the collision with the offensive player in a low, strong, and physical manner, to pivot while getting hands up, to try and back out their opponent to create space, and finally to release to get the ball aggressively but only after it comes off the rim.

We record rebounding errors when we have failed to block out and when we watch tape with the team we point out those errors. I’m more concerned about rebounding errors than I am about how many rebounds each person gets. If a player is in a position where there are 2 offensive players he should block out 1 of the 2 that increases our odds of getting the ball. This can happen especially when playing zone or in transition.

We make no excuses if a person has to block out someone bigger than they are or quicker than they are. We want their best effort on the block out on every shot regardless of if they get the ball or not.

When we are on offense we send 4 players to the glass and I want their best effort on every shot. Simply walking into a block out will not do.

3 strategies for offensive rebounding include:

  1. Faking or spinning to avoid contact,
  2. Get to the baseline and back your man out like a defensive block out, and
  3. Take a step back toward the defensive side of the court to get your opponent to turn his head to the rim and then crash the board. If our player does get blocked out we want him to get low and try move the offensive player in with his lower body so we have a better chance to get a high or long rebound.

Want to learn“ how to apply these techniques with your team? Check out Post Skill Development for more rebounding drills and strategies.

Coach“ Credit

Kevin Vande Streek
Calvin College

Assistant coach Central Wisconsin Christian High School (1982-84). Assistant coach Western Christian High School (1985-88). Assistant Coach Northwestern College (1988-89). Head Coach Unity Christian High School (1990). Head Coach University of Sioux Falls (1991-96). Head Coach Calvin College (1997-present). 311-138 record at Calvin (.693), 160-52 Conference record (.755). 7 conference championships, 7 second place finishes . . . 6 NCAA Tournament appearances. . . 13-5 NCAA Tournament record . . . 2 Final 4 appearances, 1 National Championship, 1 third place finish.