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How to become a better rebounder

Mastering the art of rebounding the basketball is a combination of positioning, blocking out, effectively reading the carom of the basketball and desire. Great rebounders like Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Kevin Love and Tim Duncan aren’t born; they are made through hard work, intensity and an innate understanding of positioning and where the ball is likely headed. The best rebounders are not always the biggest or most athletic players on the court. Charles Barkley was one of the NBA’s best rebounders at just 6’4”, while Kevin Love has lead the NBA in rebounding as a 6’8” forward. Barkley and Love are indicative of how rebounding is much more than just sheer athleticism.

Here are the keys to becoming a good rebounder:

Master your technique: Rebounding is all about positioning and using your body to effectively block out an opponent or get around an opponent. Players who can master the ability to both neutralize their opponent through an effective block out and use their strength and quickness to get around an opponent will become more effective rebounders. Just like the other key aspects of basketball, shooting and dribbling, rebounding has a definite technique. It’s all about effectively using your strength to neutralize an opponent and keep your balance, all the while reading the shot and learning the likely carom of the basketball.

[Related article for point guards: How to become a better passer and playmaker]

Understanding the Game: Technique is just one aspect. A player can have the perfect technique but if they are in the wrong position they are unlikely to get to the basketball. Over time a student of the game of basketball will develop an understanding of where a basketball is likely to bounce to based on where it was shot from and even the shooter that took the shot. This includes the ability to read and sense when a shot will be taken, giving the rebounder and advantage in breaking to a spot on the floor where they feel the ball will rebound to. Much of this skill is based on instinct and built through repetition over time.

Shots taken from the perimeter will likely have a higher bounce and longer rebound than shots taken within the paint. Simple physics demonstrates that the shot will typically rebound on the same angle has where it was taken. In essence a shot taken from the wing will typically rebound toward the wing it was taken from or the opposite wing. The same holds true for shots taken from the corner or straight on from the top of the key. Strong rebounders will sense the shot and sense where it will likely carom to, putting themselves in a position to gain the rebound.

Desire and Conditioning: Being a good rebounder is all about intensity and desire. The greatest rebounders of all time became great due to their absolute desire to get to the basketball. Like all sports, success in basketball is all about hard work. A player can have the best instincts in the world for understanding how a ball can carom, but if they aren’t willing to work hard and fight for the basketball they won’t be a good rebounder. Going right along with desire is strong conditioning. Getting into position to rebound takes good strength, timing and leaping ability. Oftentimes it takes multiple leaps to get the basketball. If a player is in poor condition they very likely will be out-rebounded by an opponent in superior shape.

To improve your rebounding, use the SKLZ Rebounding Basketball Trainer (full review here) and be sure to use a genuine Wilson evolution ball (review).