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How to Box Out in Basketball

By Kim Nunley

While jumping ability helps, getting rebounds in basketball has more to do with working to get ideal positioning while the ball is in the air and aggressively going after the ball once it hits the rim. Boxing out properly puts you in an advantageous position over your opponent to eventually get to the ball first. To box out, first make contact with the offensive player, then turn to the basket, maintain a low position and actively go after the ball.

Make Contact with Offensive Player

The first step in boxing out is to make contact with your offensive player. As the shot goes up, immediately locate the person you’re responsible for guarding and stick your forearm into that player’s chest. This stops your opponent from advancing toward the basket. A common mistake is to turn right to the basket rather than first making contact, but doing so allows your opponent to freely move around you and get inside position.

Turn to Basket

Once you’ve stopped your opponent by making contact, immediately pivot so that you’re facing the basket. As you pivot, place your backside into the thighs of your opponent. It’s important to never lose contact with your opponent, or they’ll be able to gain inside position. As you turn to the basket, find the ball and try to anticipate which way the ball will bounce based on its flight and where it will likely hit the rim.

Maintain Low Position

Squat down low to give yourself a positioning advantage over your opponent. Push them out and away from the basket using your butt and legs. By getting lower, you’re able to offset your opponent’s center of gravity. If they’re lower than you, they’ll be able to push you right under the basket, which isn’t an ideal location for a rebound. While maintaining this low position, hold your arms slightly out to your sides to help keep your opponent behind you and to feel if your opponent is trying to go around you. Shuffle your feet as needed to stay in front of your player.

Go Get the Ball

The last step in boxing out is to actively go get the ball. A common mistake is to remain pushing your opponent back with your legs and hips and wait for the ball to come to you. Once the ball bounces off the rim or backboard, however, it’s imperative that you release from your opponent and explode toward the ball. While the inside position you’ve worked for will make it difficult for the person you’re specifically guarding to get the rebound, actively going after the rebound will help prevent other opponents from coming down with the rebound. Catch the ball with both hands and stick out your elbows to help thwart off defenders.

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