Updated: Oct 29, 2021
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:
I - The Study
Perhaps one real criticism of coaches could be that what they say they do and what they actually don’t always match. For example, a coach might say “we send four guys to the glass” on every shot - but when you look at that team’s missed shots you rarely see four players crashing. With this thought in mind and with the interesting philosophies presented by Coach Pannone and Coach Ferne circling in my mind, I wanted to look at our own team’s performance on the offensive glass.
I thought that the self-study that Coach Klatsky introduced in his podcast episode was the perfect method for me to get this information. His study gave insight into offensive rebounding performance and the correlation between the number of “crashers” on each missed shot and the opponent's subsequent transition offensive opportunity.
The Colgate Study Charted:
What kind of shot was taken
How many players crashed
Did they rebound? If so did they score?
If they did not rebound, did the opponent get a transition opportunity?
Did they score off that Transition Opportunity?
So over the course of a week, I took a look at every game film from the 2018-19 season. I started with the location of each missed shot; at the rim, midrange, or the three-point line. Then I recorded how many players made a concerted effort to crash the glass; including whether or not they got the rebound, and if they scored off of it. If we did not get the rebound the last step was to determine whether a transition opportunity was created and if they scored off of that opportunity.
Data Table Explanations -
Quick Table 1 - Results By Crasher
Here the data is sorted by the number of crashers who pursued a missed shot. The key statistics are in the last four columns, which show our OREB% in those scenarios, our PPP if we rebounded the ball, our opponents Transition Opportunity Percentage if we did not secure the rebound, and finally our opponent's PPP in those transition scenarios.
Quick Table #2 - Results By Range of Shot
Here the data is sorted by the location in which the missed shot was taken. One column of note here is the "Crashers" column which averages the numbers of crashers on each missed shot from that area. The last four columns represent the same critical data as above but by location rather than the number of crashers.
II - Reflections on the Results
Once the charting was finished I wanted to compare my results to those of Coach Klatsky. One his podcast episode he talked about four basic conclusions that their staff came too after completing their study:
The more players we crashed the highest our OREB% climbed
The more players we crashed the higher our PPP climbed on a successful rebound
The more players we crashed the lower percentage of our opponent's possessions turned into transition opportunities.
The more players we crashed the lower our opponents PPP were on those possessions
Before completing the study I had a feeling that our results would look similar to the Colgate coaching staff's results. There was part of me that thought the skill of college players and factors such as shooting, floor spacing, higher defensive rebounding percentage, etc. would have an impact on the results. In the end, we came to all of the same conclusions they did.
Conclusion #1 - The more players that crashed the higher the OREB% climbed.
OREB% - 1 Crasher (25%), 2 Crashers (39.3%), & 3 Crashers (49.2%)
Only 10/500+ possessions saw 4 Crashers
Conclusion #2 - The more players we crashed the higher our PPP climbed on successful rebounds.
PPP on Rebounds - 1 Crasher (0.926), 2 Crashers (1.024), 3 Crashers (1.219)
Conclusion #3 - The more players we crashed the lower percentage of our opponent's possessions turned into transition opportunities.
Trans Opp % - 1 Crasher (33.5%), 2 Crashers (29.4%), 3 Crashers (29.2%)
There wasn't much difference in 2 Crashers to 3 Crashers
On 61 Possessions where 0 Crashed - the % was 49%!
Conclusion #4 - The more players we crashed the lower our opponents PPP were on those possessions.
PPP - 0 Crashers (1.433), 1 Crasher (.900), 2 Crashers (.935), 3 Crashers (.632)
3 Crashers seems to be the Sweet Spot
In data table #2 I charted the same data but with a focus on where the shots were taken from. It provided some additional insight into what types of shots allowed us to get the most crashers headed to the basket and what the results were in those scenarios. The three-point shot saw the highest average number of crashers, the highest, OREB%, and lowest Transition Opportunity Percentages and PPP. Conversely, shots at the rim saw a much lower number of crashers, OREB%, and gave up a much higher Transition Opportunity Percentage and PPP. Overall we're looking at data that suggests the more people we sent to the glass the more improvement we saw in offensive rebounding and transition defense.
Developing an Action Plan -
Having seen the value that crashing the glass can have our own PPP and opponent's transition opportunities, we are developing an action plan to place greater emphasis on this aspect of the game for next season.
Our three-part action plan:
Increased Practice Dedication
Emphasis on teaching Rebounding Technique
Charting Game Day Performance
A. Practice Dedication
Like any other aspect of the game, if you want your team to excel at it then you must invest time in developing it. Simply throwing in a token offensive rebounding drill here or there will not yield the increase in results we want. What I would like to see us do is make the offensive glass a key component of our transition block of practice. Incorporating offensive rebounding into the start of a small-sided game or live play can be a simple way to emphasize this skill.
A. Practice Dedication
Like any other aspect of the game, if you want your team to excel at it then you must invest time in developing it. Simply throwing in a token offensive rebounding drill here or there will not yield the increase in results we want.
What I would like to see us do is make the offensive glass a key component of our transition block of practice. Incorporating offensive rebounding into the start of a small-sided game or live play can be a simple way to emphasize this skill.
"3/3 Rebounding" -
A simple drill to work on Offensive Rebounding technique and play live 3/3.
Pass to Coach
Coach Shoots, Players Crash
Play live Make or Miss
B. Teaching the Technique -
One of the really interesting parts of the Aaron Ferne podcast was his “teaching points” for offensive rebounders. We must conduct Skill Development for our offensive rebounders as well if we are expecting an uptick in results. All of his teaching techniques centered on giving his players a chance to get the offensive rebound, and also be in a position to transition into defense if they were unsuccessful.
1. Fighting to the “High Side”
2. Getting to 50/50 Position
3. “Pinning” your opponent in the paint
4. Tipping the basketball when you can not get it with two hands
Taking these teaching points and putting our players in 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 or 4/4 scenarios that teach the technique and then transition into live play would be a great way to incorporate this into practice.
C. Charting on Game Day
I am generally of the belief that “what we measured, gets done”. We need to be able to go into halftime and assess our efforts on the offensive glass and determine if we are adhering to what we are preaching. For example, if we preach ball security and we have 10 Turnovers at halftime we need to address that. So if the offensive glass is going to be a priority we need to know just how many crashers are getting to the rim on each possession. With some quality work by assistant coaches perhaps we can be aware of whom exactly is doing the crashing (and who is not).
Concluding Thoughts -
It is safe to say that offensive rebounding has generally been a topic that has not received much attention from me over the years. Maybe I ignored it because the Hudl statistics were not available to bring it to my attention, or that we generally had productive big men and my focus was elsewhere. I am grateful that after having been exposed to this line of thinking I can now make some adjustments and look to exploit a small edge. Hopefully at this time next offseason I will have some 2019-20 Season Data that I use to display growth in these areas.
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