A Case for Offensive Rebounding

Updated: Feb 25

Use offensive rebounding as a tool to improve your team's offensive efficiency and transition defense.

A basketball team’s defensive transition strategy begins with its approach on the offensive glass. In formulating our own approach to this phase of the game we are weighing the benefit of earning extra opportunities on the offensive end with taking away transition opportunities from our opponents. If you look across the landscape of college and professional basketball you will undoubtedly see every version of this mixture employed.

In the professional game, we have seen a clear preference to get back on defense and deemphasize the offensive glass. This is borne out of the belief that a team gains more from getting back on defense and stopping high-value transition opportunities for their opponents than they do from crashing the offensive glass. High percentage shooters, deeper spacing, lengthy defenders, and talented ball-handlers at the professional level all serve as deterrents for coaches to risk sending people to the offensive glass. As a result, offensive rebounding percentages have been on a downward trend for nearly a decade.

When contemplating this subject I think it is safe to assume that the concerns of coaches at the professional level are somewhat lessened as you move down into the high school and college ranks. At each successive level, you are going to see shooting percentages drop, the length of defenders shortened, and the design of the court dramatically change. When you add in the skill limitations of high school athletes it would seem logical to assume that the value of offensive rebounds would then increase further.

Inspiration for Deeper Examination -

Over the course of the 2019 offseason, I happened to listen to a number of interesting podcasts discussing the topic of offensive rebounding. The guests all seemed to suggest (to some extent) that we should buck the current trends at the professional level, and place greater emphasis on crashing the glass. Each of the podcasts approached the subject from a slightly different angle, but all seemed to suggest that offensive rebounding can be used to improve offensive efficiency and deter opponents' transition opportunities.

In separate episodes of The Basketball Podcast Coaches Ryan Pannone and Aaron Ferne dove into their 'Tagging Up System' where all players are sent to the offensive glass. In this system, players crash with a specific strategy that lets them accumulate offensive rebounds while also allowing them to immediately match up on defense if the rebound is not secured. Both coaches explained the logic behind their offensive rebounding teaching points, such as;

  • Getting to the High Side

  • Fighting to 50/50

  • Pinning Defenders into the Paint

  • Rules versus Leak Outs

On an episode of his Stat Chat podcast, Colgate Assistant Coach Dave Klatsky reflected on a self-study that their staff conducted on their own offensive rebounding production. His study came to a similar conclusion that Ferne & Pannone had come to believe - that there was not only value in offensive rebounding, but a side benefit of slowing down their opponent's transition offense.

Three Podcast Recommendations: