It has been said many times, defense is nothing without rebounding. Unless your team plans on stealing the ball every time, or getting it out of the net (hopefully not), rebounding is the means to securing the ball, securing the defensive stop.
If you are like me, I have had the fortune or misfortune of coaching undersized teams. Therefore rebounding has always been an important facet and large focus for us. And so when I look at rebounding there are two things I try to avoid. 1) Rewarding the tallest player for simply snatching all the rebounds, as he/she will not be the tallest all the time, or even trying to discern teaching points from the tallest rebounders - and 2) thinking rebounding is all about heart, effort and hustle.
Now I do believe a large part of rebounding is hustle, athleticism and physicality, but there also has to be more than just boxing out and wanting it more. So I wanted to take a moment to look at one of the best rebounders in NBA history who also happens not to be one of the tallest players: Dennis Rodman.
The first technique I noticed when studying The Worm was his relentless attempts to secure the weakside position as a shot went up - almost anchoring the opponents to one side of the floor and allowing him the entire weakside.
This is a brilliant tactic as we now understand analytically that most missed shots find themselves on the weakside of the floor. Rodman figured this out for himself and took full advantage. Sometimes even setting himself up the offensive position just for the shot attempt and a chance at that OREB.
Not only did this allow Rodman a huge area to track down rebounds all to himself, it also allowed him to use his dexterity and tip balls into this area. Rodman was very known for his rebounding tips and this gave him space to secure those rebounds when he could only get a hand or finger tips on them.
It is important to note that this technique is not only for offensive rebounding. It is also good practice on the defensive end as well. Often defenders find themselves in an unfavorable boxing out position and this technique opens up the effectiveness of “boxing in.” Driving an opponent under the rim and anchoring the weakside as opposed to trying to drive a player backwards and create enough space for a rebounding zone.
This is our first look into Rodman’s defensive techniques and I assure you, there are more to come. Many of his techniques will be unorthodox, many will rile up coaches and a few will cause undoubtable questioning. But as with great on-ball defenders and the Lockdown breakdowns, perhaps there are techniques that can help others improve, and perhaps, it’s taken us too long to learn from one of the best rebounders of all time.
See you next time!