I’ll start this post by saying I’ve been a big man my entire life, which was basically all due to my height.
More often than not, I was the tallest kid on the court, and so one of my responsibilities, along with blocking shots and shooting layups, was rebounding.
In all honesty, I sucked at it.
When the other team’s shot went up, I often turned around and ran toward the basket, which left my man free to run around and chase after loose balls if there was a long rebound.
Then one of my coaches said something to me I’ll never forget: “Delly, remember, your butt is your biggest and strongest muscle. Use it.”
Of course, I laughed a bit as I headed back onto the court, but my main focus was using my butt to box out anyone who dared come my way.
All of a sudden, I started getting rebounds left and right. It was a revelation!
Anyway, that day, I realized how important it is to learn how to box out in basketball. If you want to become an excellent rebounder, it is a skill you must master.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a guard, a forward, or know how to play center. Learning how to box out is an essential part of the game that is often the difference between winning and losing.
What is a Box Out?
First, close your eyes.
Wait, never mind. If you close your eyes, you can’t read what I’m about to tell you.
First, keep your eyes open.
Imagine you’re on defense. A shot from an offensive player goes up, and now there is an opportunity for a rebound once the shot clangs off the rim.
Boxing out is simply getting between your man and the basket so you can stop him from getting an offensive rebound and give yourself a better chance of securing the rebound. It’s simple, but boxing out can help your team win more games.
Reasons You Need to Know How to Box Out in Basketball
You need to know how to box out because rebounding is one of the most essential parts of a basketball game.
A defensive team can lock down their opponents possession after possession, but if they don’t secure a rebound, the offensive team will eventually score.
You could try getting rebounds by not boxing out, but then you have to be skilled at knowing how the ball comes off the rim.
(PRO TIP: It’s hard to know where the ball will come off the rim. You’d have better luck predicting the weather a week in advance.)
It also doesn’t always have to be defensive players who box out. If you can position yourself between your defender and the rim as an offensive player, you’ll have a lot of chances for offensive rebounds and easy baskets.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Mastering Your Box Outs
Being a good rebounder, like being a good dancer, doesn’t necessarily come naturally. But lucky for you and me, you can work at it to get better.
I’ve been playing basketball my whole life and have learned the ins and outs of becoming a good rebounder.
It’s not an EASY thing to get better at, but it is WORTH it. You can become a massive asset to your team by becoming a better rebounder, whether you’re a big man or a guard!
So grab a pair of basketball shoes, lace those things up, and let’s get started!
Understand the Basics
First, anticipation is key.
Anticipating where the ball will go is like predicting your first gift on Christmas morning.
You must anticipate where the shot will go and position yourself accordingly.
Dennis Rodman had this down to a science. A lot of times, when a shot comes from, say, the left side of the court, the rebound will go to the right side.
It’s not a perfect science, but we once thought the Earth was flat, right?
Next, you need to make contact with your opponent by putting your body between them and the basket.
Get into an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent to maintain balance and stability. This stance will allow you to move with the player you’re trying to box out at all times.
Keep your arms up to prevent your opponent from getting through to the ball. Finally, jump and grab the ball at its highest point once it comes off the rim.
Prepare Your Body
You may not always be the strongest or tallest player on the court, so you must build your strength to box out taller and stronger opponents.
Do squats, lunges, and deadlifts to help you build a solid lower body that can withstand the physicality of an aggressive offensive player going for a rebound.
You should also develop your core muscles, including your obliques, lower back, and abs, to improve your protective rebounding position, balance, and stability during box-out situations.
Flexibility exercises such as yoga or Pilates can also help you to improve your range of motion and injury prevention, which is crucial in grabbing rebounds in a crowded paint area.
Position Yourself Smartly
To better position yourself on a missed shot, you need to pay close attention to your opponent’s movements and anticipate where they will be when the shot goes up.
Understanding where your opponent is going on a shot attempt will help you get in the best possible position to prevent them from getting to the ball.
Good box outs don’t always result in YOU getting the ball, but instead, not allowing YOUR OPPONENT to get the ball.
Remember to keep your back straight and your hips low so you don’t get pushed off your spot by more massive opponents.
This last point is especially important during a free throw. At the free throw line, there is minimal space to get into position, so you will need a strong base and quick movements to keep from getting pushed under the basket.
Use Your Mind Games
Boxing out isn’t just about being physically strong; it’s also about being mentally tough.
Use your mind games to outsmart your opponents.
Be confident and aggressive when establishing a position, and use your body language to intimidate your opponents.
Don’t be afraid to get in their face, but do it legally to avoid fouling them.
Use that big butt muscle a couple of times, and they won’t want to challenge you again.
Like any basketball skill, mastering boxing out takes practice and repetition. So, don’t be afraid to incorporate it into your daily training routine.
But, Delly, how the heck do I practice boxing out?
Get a workout partner or coach to stand at the top of the key and purposely miss shots. You can then have another guy try to get an offensive rebound while you work to prevent them from doing so.
If you can’t find someone to go after offensive rebounds, use your imagination. Get in a good athletic stance and shuffle around the court with your hands up.
You can develop muscle memory for boxing out like you would for shooting a basketball.
Practice different angles and scenarios to prepare you for various game situations.
Key Considerations for Successfully Boxing Out an Opposing Player
The athletic stance is the MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of boxing out. It is nearly impossible to stay in front of an offensive rebounder standing straight up.
You’ll look like a giraffe on roller skates if you try boxing someone out without getting into an athletic stance.
Intimidation is another crucial aspect. There have been games where I’ve been boxed out so hard (legally) that I did not want anything to do with going after offensive rebounds.
There’s a theory in football where you can tell if the other team is good by the first hit you take. Same for basketball.
Give a nice clean hit, and you’ll make your opponent scared to go after rebounds.
Taking It to The Next Level: How to Secure The Rebound
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. ATHLETIC STANCE!
If you’re in an athletic stance when the ball comes off the rim, you can jump and grab it at its highest point.
Once you grab the ball with two hands, secure it. A lot of guys try to dribble right away. You’re opening yourself up to turnovers when you do this since there are so many bodies around.
Grab the ball and chin it. Put that sucker right under your chin with your elbows out. Don’t throw an elbow, but have them out so that if anyone tries to take it away, they’ll be sorry they tried.
Pivot around with the ball secured until you find an outlet man or the defenders decide to run down to their basket.
Alternative Methods to Outrebounding The Opposing Team
If a guy on the other team is putting in work on the offensive boards, put two guys on him when the shot goes up.
Sometimes a player can be so tall and strong that one player boxing him out can’t possibly do the job. (Sometimes, it will take an entire TEAM to do the job.)
As I mentioned, once a coach told me to use my butt, the game changed for me. It can change for you, too, if you decide to put the work in.
You’ve already taken a significant first step by learning what a box out is and how you can implement it into your game. Now, don’t waste any time.
At a certain point, it will become second nature, and you’ll be securing rebounds like Wilt and Rodman on a game-by-game basis. However, I would stay away from dying your hair like Rodman.
That dude is not from this planet.
What Does It Mean to Box Out in Basketball?
Boxing out means getting in between your man and the basket to decrease your man’s odds of getting the rebound.
Boxing out your opponent is like the house decreasing your odds of winning at blackjack.
What is An Illegal Box Out in Basketball?
An illegal box out can be many things. Don’t elbow the other player, don’t knee the other player, don’t use your hands to grab them or push them.
Remember, this is basketball, not MMA.
Can You Push The Offensive Player in A Box Out in Basketball?
Can you push them with your butt? Yes.
Can you shove them away from the basket with your hands? No.
Be aggressive, but don’t start a fight with the guy. Watch college basketball to learn some of the do’s and don’ts of boxing out. (I would say the NBA, but there aren’t many box outs there.)