How to Box Out in Basketball

Three Parts:Anticipating the ReboundPositioning Yourself to ReboundSecuring the Rebound

Boxing out is a critical part of basketball, as it prevents your opponent from getting rebounds. Boxing out in basketball is a technique used by a player to position himself to best get a rebound after a shot has been missed. It is so effective that a shorter player can out rebound a taller player. Boxing out is an essential skill for every player on the floor and is especially important for the centers and power forwards, whose primary goal on missed shots is to rebound.

Part 1
Anticipating the Rebound

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    Ensure a shot has been taken. Often, watching an opponent pass the ball with peripheral vision can be mistaken for a shot, particularly if it is a lob pass across the court. A common, helpful method of determining if a shot has been taken is to listen for your teammates yelling, "shot".[1]
    • If you see a shot taken, yell "shot" yourself so others can hear you.
    • If you move to box out with your back turned, the player you're guarding can easily cut past you to the basket.
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    Single out the person you're guarding if you’re playing man-to-man defense. Boxing out can vary based on what type of defense is being played. In man-to-man defense, find whatever player you were assigned to guard as they are your responsibility.[2]
    • This takes practice and quick thinking, but a good rule of thumb is to box out the closest opponent to the basket. If it is clear that a teammate will not be able to box out their own man, and their man is closer to the basket than your man, you should move to box out the opponent closest to the basket.
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    Box out the closest person to you if you’re playing a zone defense. If you're playing a high position in the zone (closer to the top of the key, past the free throw line) try to select an opponent who is also above the key.
    • If you're playing a low position (closer to the basket) try to find someone near to you in the paint.
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    Trust your team when in a zone defense. All 5 players have to box out for it to work. A rebounding mentality for a zone defense is created by understanding the offense of the opponent and what areas are critical for securing a rebound.[3]
    • A zone defense is predicated on guarding positions on the court so rebounding in such a defense should reflect that same mentality.
    • If you see the ball bounce off off the rim to your direction, don't be tempted to jump after it. You might miss it and then your man can get an offensive rebound.

Part 2
Positioning Yourself to Rebound

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    Position yourself between your opponent and the basket as you anticipate the angle at which the missed shot will venture.[4] It is helpful to quickly glance at the opposing player's eyes. Many players will have their eyes up, watching the ball that has been shot, to try to anticipate how it will bounce off of the backboard or rim.
    • Their eyes will often tell you what direction they plan on moving, so you can move to anticipate them.
    • This can give you an advantage as they are not paying immediate attention to you.
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    Step toward the player. You shouldn't have to move much further than a couple of steps because your opponent will be moving toward you and the basket if they are going for a rebound.
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    Extend an arm and make contact with their torso to ensure that you don't lose track of your opponent. When a player of the opposing team takes a shot, you should make contact with your man using your hand or your forearm.[5]
    • Do not grab them or throw your arm with any kind of force, as referees will see this and call a foul.
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    Do a reverse (back) pivot into the player. Turn your body to the opposite side of the arm you extended (if you extended your right arm, rotate your body to the left). Throw your arms behind you, and make a corral.[6] As the ball is flying through the air to the basket, stay positioned with your body towards your man.
    • Spread your feet a foot or so further than shoulder-width, and bend your knees to lower your body. At this point, your momentum should carry you into your opponent.
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    Stay balanced, and extend your butt slightly. Anticipate contact with your glutes and lower back. Get low and use the strength of your base and core to keep the opponent away from the rebound.[7]
    • You should stop your opponent and continue to push them back, not tackle them.
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    Spread your arms to either side of your opponent behind you at the same time you are pushing him back with your base. With your arms on either side, perpendicular to your body and angled backwards, you can tell where your opponent plans to move. You should plan to move in the same direction. This will prevent them from getting around you.
    • Do not hold them in place. Your arms are for telling where the other player is, not for keeping them stationary.[8]
    • With your back to the player, one leg and one arm should be on either side of your opponent's body but not touching them.
    • A band aid will be our example; the sticky part is your arms and legs and the padding is your main frame. You do not want the "sticky part" (arms and legs) to touch your opponent. Instead, the non-sticky part (your main frame, butt and back) will be the contact point that keeps him in place. You are creating a “box” that your opponent is unable to escape.
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    Push backwards with your butt. It may feel a little awkward, but it is the most effective way to get your opponent out of your zone. Walk with him, and make sure he doesn’t get around you.[9]
    • If you feel that they are moving in one direction, push them the opposite way to counteract their movement. If you have a proper stance, you can move with them to either side and therefore make it extremely difficult for them to go forward in a rebounding effort.
    • Squat as if you’re sitting on a chair. Use your body weight to keep them from getting to the ball.
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    Watch the ball to try to anticipate where it will go if the shot is missed. When you are sure that you have your opponent sufficiently boxed out, it is important to then go in for the rebound yourself.[10]
    • Stopping your opponent’s momentum is often enough to keep them from attempting a rebound, and even if he tries to keep going, you will have an advantage of position.
    • The whole effort will have been pointless if you don't attempt a rebound.
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    Slide your feet as needed to prevent the opposing player from getting around you. Watch where the ball goes and jump toward it when it begins to descend.
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    Extend both arms completely to get as much height as possible. When the shot bounces off the basket in your direction, jump to the "high point" (meeting the ball at the highest point of your jump) and grab the basketball for a successful rebound.[11]
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Part 3
Securing the Rebound

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    Keep your opponent pinned. Only go for the rebound if you feel that you have your opponent secured in place. If you think they can get around you, leave the rebound to another teammate and focus on keeping your opponent away from the ball.[12]
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    "Chin the ball". Do this by putting the ball underneath your chin and sticking your elbows out. Bring the ball right under your chin and flare your elbows out. Don't swing your elbows, you don't want to commit a foul or hurt anyone, but bring them out as wide as possible to protect the ball.[13]
    • This makes it harder for the defense to steal the ball from you after you secure the rebound.
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    Hold the ball tightly. When you come down with the rebound, refrain from dribbling for a second or two as many defenders will attempt to hit it out of your hands.
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    Pivot away from the basket to the sideline. Look to throw an outlet pass to a streaking player or a guard located near the sidelines.[14]
    • Look for your point-guard and pass him the ball if he's open.
    • If you are the point-guard look up court for an open teammate close to the basket; otherwise, look to set up your offense.
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    Turn and dribble up the court if you're a guard. If you're a post player, wait and look for an outlet pass to a guard before running up court yourself. Don't get over confident with your ball-handling ability. Make sure all the defenders have cleared before dribbling.


  • Don't be afraid to put some pressure on your opponent.
  • Contact is good. Your butt and back are your contact points.


  • Don't be overly aggressive or commit any fouls, just make sure you can feel his body.
  • You should not be completely bent at the waist. Your back should be leaning into the person you box out. If the opponent cannot steady themselves because he is pushed off out of his comfort zone, you have done your job.

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Categories: Basketball | Team Sports