It goes without saying that the number 1 way to be a great offensive rebounder is to relentlessly pursue the basketball. That being said, there are a few techniques to improve your offensive rebounding ability when raw effort isn't enough.
Before I get to the specific techniques, it's important to note that offensive rebounders have certain advantages that can be leveraged.
Offensive rebounders often have the anticipatory advantage. Offensive rebounders are usually watching the ball so they can see when a shot is released and react quicker. Defenders, on the other hand, sometimes lose sight of the ball in the chaos of a defensive possession and don’t realize a shot has been taken until their check is already attacking the boards.
Offensive rebounders often have the reactionary advantage. Defenders that are trying to box out have to react to the offensive players movements. On the other hand, offensive players can dictate the movement of the defense by charging to the rim, moving side to side, retreating etc.
Offensive rebounders often have the reading advantage. While the defensive player has to focus on boxing out the offensive player, the offensive rebounder can read the flight of the ball and better anticipate where the ball is going to bounce.
The number 1 strategy for offensive rebounding is to flood the weak side. Statistical analysis (and basic physics) tells us that the vast majority of misses from the wing and corner end up on the weak side. For a great Grantland article (R.I.P) analyzing exactly where rebounds go using an interactive shot chart, click here.
Bottom line, whatever strategy you employ, try to end up on the weak side. Watch #44 Nick Ward execute the weakside flood perfectly in the following clip.
He begins near the right block and as he sees the shot released from the right corner, he slides over to the weakside and wedges his defender under the rim. As the shot misses and bounces long, he's in perfect position to grab the board.
Ok, now here are 5 offensive rebounding strategies to help players beat a box out.
1) Wait and Pounce
How it works: As the defender runs to box out the offensive player, the offensive player waits and forces the defender to come to him. Instead of trying to make an immediate move on the release of the shot, the offensive player delays. Then, as the defender is still occupied with trying to hit the offensive player, the offensive player reads the rebound and pounces on it.
When it works: This works best as a perimeter crasher when your defender is in help side position and has a long way to run to greet you on a boxout
This method is also very effective for grabbing long rebounds because the offensive player isn't engaging the box out. As a result, the offensive player can react quickly and cover more ground. I highly recommended this strategy for guards crashing off a 3 point shot from the weak side.
Example: Watch #22 Miles Bridges on Michigan State crash from the far corner.
Things to Note: The waiting part is crucial because it leverages the reading advantage to its fullest. By delaying and forcing the defender to come to you to box out, it takes more time for the defender to get there. That time spent trying to hit the offensive player prevents the defender from watching the ball and reading it’s bounce off the rim.
How it works: As the shot goes up, the offensive player gets low and drives the defender underneath the rim.
When it works: The bulldoze is effective if you have a strength advantage and are around the basket. It’s difficult to bulldoze all the way from the perimeter.
Example: Watch #44 Nick Ward starting on the far laneline.
Things to Note: The bulldozing strategy works best if the offensive player hits first. In doing so, bulldozing leverages the anticipatory advantage that offensive rebounders have. Since the offensive player can often anticipate that a shot is going up before the defender, the offensive player can catch the defender off-balance and bury them under the rim.
3) Swim Move
How it works: As the defender attempts to make contact on the box out, the offensive player simultaneously slides to the side and uses his arms to sweep the defender out of the way.
When it works: The swim move works well if the offensive player has a quickness advantage. It can work both on the perimeter and interior.
Example: Watch #34 Gavin Schilling starting on the right block.
Things to Note: Proper boxout form requires that the defensive player use their forearm to make contact before using their butt to box out. However, if the defender tries to hit you with their butt before he uses his arms, they’re susceptible to the swim move.
As the defender sticks out their butt and leans back, they’re expecting contact. A simple swim move uses their momentum against them and throws them off-balance.
4) Drive the Shoulder
How it works: Drive the shoulder is a hybrid of the bulldoze and swim move. It requires the offensive player to attack one of the players’ shoulders at an angle.
When it works: Drive the shoulder is effective both around the basket and on the perimeter. It’s a useful strategy when the offensive player wants to bulldoze to the basket while also moving to the weakside of the rim (where rebounds most often end up).
Example: Watch #34 Gavin Schilling starting on the right elbow.
5) Fake Retreat
How it works: The offensive player pretends to retreat back on defense for a moment. Once the defender turns back around to locate the ball, the offensive player attacks the boards. Your defender will be assuming that you are out of the play so you’ll have a free runway to crash the glass.
Many defenders often take a quick look to see if their man is crashing. If they see their man retreating on defense or standing, they snap their head back around and follow the ball.
When it works: This strategy would work best for players who aren’t immediately in a threatening rebounding position. For example, if the offensive player is on the perimeter, most defenders just give a cursory glance to make sure their check isn’t crashing the glass. But if the offensive player is already in the paint, the defender will likely box out regardless if the offensive player is retreating or crashing