In this installment of the Three Methods Series, we are looking at how to incorporate boxing out into your practice plans.
In this week's installment of the Three Methods Series, we are looking at how to incorporate boxing out into your practice plans. Regardless of size, boxing out is a critical component in helping your defense end a possession. If the defense does everything right and then gives up an offensive rebound it was all for naught. If this happens enough it can become extremely deflating to your defensive effort. Although we recognize that we aren't going to secure every rebound we can at least put ourselves in the best position possible to make it happen.
In this post, I gave three examples of how we can work on this in practice, one that I've used with youth teams, and two that we use at the high school level. For each method, I tried to break down how I set it up, how we might make it more competitive, and how we would play it out in practice. Regardless of which concept we are using, I want to harp on the same few teaching points in order to send a consistent message to our players. At the high school level, our players need to be physical and be willing to use their bodies to secure rebounds - the groundwork for that needs to be laid at practice.
Teaching Points -
In general, I try to keep my teaching points simple with every concept. When it comes to boxing out and rebounding I think your willingness to be physical and pursue the basketball is probably more important than technique. With being said I do think we need to give players at least a few points of emphasis that we want to see on film. For me, I think it boils down to three ideas:
1. Make Contact First - We want our guys to be the first ones to make contact and not the other way around. If we aren't first then we are going to get pushed towards the basket and reward them with all of the rebounds. We want to place a lot of emphasis on using our forearms to make contact initially.
2. Get the Better Position - We need our players to be thinking about getting "inside" of the offensive players. This might mean fighting around them, getting to a 50/50 or "shoulder to shoulder" position, keeping them on our backs, etc. Even if we don't get the rebound we need to keep our assignment from getting it as well.
3. High Point the Ball - I do not want to de-emphasize the importance of boxing out, but the reality is that we can have a perfect box out, but if don't pursue the ball it means nothing. We really want to stress that our players abandon their box out and pursue the basketball at its highest point once the shot hits the rim.
Method #1 -
The first method I included in the video was a 1/1 Ball on the Floor concept. This might be something you can use to introduce the concept of boxing out your opponent. Obviously, we can progress to a 1/1 live rebound from here, adding in the element of high-pointing the rebound. This winter we used this a few times with our 6th-grade team as a way to introduce boxing out and the technique behind it. Like most concepts, we tried to get it going at multiple baskets to maximize our reps.
1/1 Ball on the Floor -
The concept is drawn up using the two main hoops, but if you have side hoops or room on the side I would recommend adding a third group.
I tried to split up the team into smaller groups of 3/4 players. We assigned one coach per group and instructed the players to emphasize our "make contact first" philosophy.
The rotation would have players go from offense to defense to out, out to offense.
As the players go through the drill we are just trying to increasingly emphasize making contact with our forearm first and then "taking the best position possible". One recommendation I might use is setting up a few cones that your players have to stay within. This will eliminate the "defensive end vs left tackle" feel to the concept. Make it more realistic, and just place emphasis on guys using their bodies to stop crashers.
Method #2 -
The second concept I added to the post is one I use quite often in the early parts of the season. We are simply going to set up a 2/2 scenario where we have to make live box-outs on crashers, and box-outs on shooters. I typically use this to get repetitions so I set up a rotation where players are going from offense to defense and vice versa. However, I do think that you can create two teams and develop a scoring system where you award points for made shots and def rebounds and get a winner.
Two Line, "X Outs" -
We are going to start the drill by getting into four lines, two on the baseline and two in the slots. I like getting my most physical players right in front of these lines to set the tone.
The drill starts with one offensive player flipping the ball to the other and then cutting behind them. The player who received the pass now prepares to deliver a pass of his own to a shooter.
Once the pass to the shooter is made we get a catch & shoot opportunity which requires a closeout, contest, and box out. For our other player (X1) we are getting a live box-out opportunity on the backside. Now that we are working on live box-outs we need to stress our players getting the basketball at its highest point as well.
If we are not creating two teams and competing against each other then I will typically ask the defensive players to now become our two offensive players (crasher and shooter) and then get two new ones up on defense.
Method #3 -
My third method for boxing out is a 3/3 SSG Roll Out concept. I like the idea of either creating two larger teams or maybe 3/4 smaller teams and then rotating them through the drill. We are essentially going to create a closeout and box the shooter scenario at the top of the key, and then two different live box-outs on the wings. For safety and variety purposes we are going to try and get a baseline crash and a middle crash from the other two players.
3/3 "Roll Out" -
We are going to start the concept with all three defensive players in the paint, and the three offensive players positioned at the point and wings.
We start the possession with the ball being rolled out to the shooter. As the pass is made (X1) is closing out and contesting the shot.
Off the basketball, we are going to get two crashers heading in opposite directions. By having a baseline crasher and middle crasher we are adding a variety to the type of box outs we're trying to get, and avoiding a crash of bodies in the middle of the paint. This also affords us the opportunity to teach the concept of "riding a crasher" behind the backboard.
Typically I get the offense off the floor and have the defense rotate to the offensive side of the ball. Three new defensive players now step up and get their repetition. One version I really like is playing this in "5 Possessions" form. Here we'd make two teams and then allow both sides to get 5 chances to get box outs. The team with the most defensive rebounds wins.
Bonus, 4/4 Cut Throat -
One thing I have done in years past is to use an offensive rebounding component in our 4/4 Cut Throat work. I like the idea of working on our box-out technique in 1/1 or 2/2 form and then working into an SSG or live-play concept.
Cut Throat Set Up:
We typically create 3 teams of 4, placing one team on offense, one on defense, and one on the baseline. We typically play our games to 5 or 7, and rotate teams any time a score is made or a ball is deflected out of bounds.
Offensive Rebound Incentive:
One scoring tweak that you can make is to give points to the offense for offensive rebounds. So the offense could earn points for offensive rebounds and scored baskets. What we're hoping to do is incentivize players to box out their man and not give up those crucial offensive rebounds.
Concluding Thoughts -
When you think about the best defensive teams in your league I generally believe they are the ones that are physical in the paint and disruptive on the perimeter. We've got to build a defense that does not allow easy baskets and that oftentimes means limiting offensive rebounds for your opponent. With inexperienced or young teams it is essential that you commit time to building these kinds of defensive habits. The best time to build these habits is early in the season when your players' bodies are fresh the games are not coming left and right.
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