Man-to-Man Defense – Competitive Team Rebounding

By Rory Hamilton

December 3rd, 2016: Winthrop Eagles center Duby Okeke (0) and Winthrop Eagles guard Xavier Cooks (12) box out Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams (20) during a free throw during NCAA basketball game action between the Winthrop Eagles and the Dayton Flyers at University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH. Photo by Adam Lacy/Cal Sport Media(Credit Image: © Adam Lacy/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

Competitive Team Rebounding is part 5 of a 5 part series on drills that can help any man-to-man defensive system. Read part 1, Man-to-Man Defense – 2 Essential Questions here  part 2 Man-to-Man Defense – Drills for On and Off Ball Defense here part 3 Man-to-Man Defense – Team Post Defense here and part 4 Man-to-Man Defense – Defending Screens.

My final blog post in my series on man-to-man defense focuses on competitive team rebounding drills. We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you emphasize” and rebounding should always be a top priority for any program. Teams can play the best 1st shot defense in the world but if you cannot consistently rebound, its difficult to win the big games.

As you begin next season, I challenge you to simplify your approach when teaching rebounding. We use the Tom Izzo mantra of “Hit-Find-Get.” We teach initiating 1st contact “Hit,” pivot into offense and “Find” the ball and then go “Get” it. We also believe rebounding is 20% technique and 80% heart/hustle so our drills reward teams that have a nose for the ball. The two drills in this post reinforce proper rebounding technique along with promoting toughness and developing a dominant rebounding mindset.


USA Rebounding

The first rebounding drill I got from Coach K about 4-5 years ago while I was watching team USA practice in preparation for the Olympics.

USA Rebounding

Drill Set-up: Four offensive players positioned in the short corner areas and just inside the 3pt line around the elbows. Three defensive players line up in the middle of the paint facing coach (player 5). The goal of the drill is to collect as many offensive rebounds possible in two minutes.

USA Rebounding

Drill begins with the coach passing to any of the four offensive players. The player then shoots the basketball and the defensive players must then communicate and block out the other three offensive players. The only player not allowed to rebound is the shooter. The defensive players must communicate and talk on who they are going to box out.  If the defensive team secures the basketball and there is no offensive rebound. The defense will pass the ball back out to the coach(player 5) and the drill repeats.

USA Rebounding

Drill continues for 2:00 with the offensive team trying to accumulate as many offensive rebounds as possible. After the 2:00, a new group of 7 players come into the drill. Once all groups have gone on offense and defense, a winner is decided and the losers run.


Creighton Rebounding

This drill is probably one of my favorite drills because it incorporates shooting, rebounding, toughness conditioning and finishing through contact.

Creighton Rebounding

Drill Set-up: Split your team into as many groups of four as possible. This drill is a competitive drill where both teams are trying to accumulate points. The offensive team of four starts at the elbows and the defensive teams starts on the blocks. A coach (player 5) is underneath the basket with a basketball and will be the passer in the drill. This is a 1:00 continuous drill and the scoring is as follows:

Offensive Team: 1 point for making the elbow shot and a potential 1 point for offensive rebound and put back.

Defensive Team: The only way the defense can score is by securing the defensive rebound off the made or missed shot by the offensive and then score by a stick back in the painted area.

Creighton Rebounding

Drill begins with coach passing to either player at the elbow. The offensive player should be down and ready to shoot. On the pass to the elbow, the defensive players cross and contest the shot and block out the two offensive players. After the shot, both offensive players crash the boards and try to secure the rebound. Remember that the offense can score a point on a made elbow shot, and an offensive rebound (even if its a made shot) and put back. The defense can only score one point by getting the rebound from the elbow shot and putting in back in for a score.

Creighton Rebounding

Once that possession is finished–the players pass the ball back to the coach and the next four players step up and the drill continues. After 1:00 both teams switch spots and continue drill for 1:00. After both teams have gone for a minute, the team that has accumulated the most points wins and the losers run.  This drill can get physical, so your coaching staff must intervene if play gets too rough or players foul. You want to instill toughness but at the same time not promote bad habits.


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Rory Hamilton

Rory Hamilton

Rory Hamilton has 19 years of basketball coaching experience at the collegiate and high school level. Coach Hamilton is the current girls basketball coach at Norman North High School. In three years his team has posted a 46-32 record, won two mid-season tournament titles and appeared in three 6A area tournaments. Prior to Norman North, he served as the head girls coach at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, OK. In seven years at MSM, he posted a 108-75 record and is the winningest girls coach in school history. Coach Hamilton led the Rockets to three consecutive 4A state tournament appearances. In 2011-2012, the Rockets had a 20-7 record and made it to the state tournament for the first time in school history. The next year in 2012-2013, the Rockets posted a 25-6 record and earned the silver ball, losing in the 4A state championship game to Fort Gibson. Last season in 2013-2014, the Rockets posted a 23-7 record and lost to Anadarko in the 4A state tournament semifinals. Coach Hamilton was named Central Oklahoma Conference coach of the year three times and was selected to coach the Little All-City all-star game three consecutive years from 2012-2014. Coach Hamilton has coached 6 NCAA Division 1 players, 4 NCAA Division II players and several playing at the NAIA and NJCAA levels.
December 3rd, 2016: Winthrop Eagles center Duby Okeke (0) and Winthrop Eagles guard Xavier Cooks (12) box out Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams (20) during a free throw during NCAA basketball game action between the Winthrop Eagles and the Dayton Flyers at University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH. Photo by Adam Lacy/Cal Sport Media(Credit Image: © Adam Lacy/CSM via ZUMA Wire)
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