How Small Players Can Be Great Rebounders

So you’re not the biggest kid on the basketball court. You’re probably not even the second biggest. Chances are, you play because your friends made you. Unfortunately, your laissez-faire style of defense ain’t doin’ much at keeping the other team out of the paint. Furthermore, you’re giving up opportunities to get rebounds when you let ‘big guys’ work at the boards. While it may seem obvious, a huge part of playing good defense is rebounding. If you want to succeed at rebounding, you need to hustle! So here are some tips on how to rebound even if you’re just a little guy (or a little girl).

‘Want To’

It starts with the ‘want to’. When it comes to rebounding, tall players have all the advantages. To get your hands on a rebound, you have to get into a better position than your taller opponent. That’s going to be hard work. You’ll also have to want it more. Charles Barkley rebounded better than most of the NBA players of his era. He wasn’t the tallest. But his nickname ‘the Round Mound of Rebound’ proved he had the ‘want to’.

Boxing Out

Getting inside position is called ‘boxing out’. When a shot goes up, turn and face the basket. If you’re playing good defense, you are between your man and the basket and now you have ‘inside position’. However, good position is not always enough. You should also extend your elbows away from your body at 90 degrees with your hands up. Effectively, this makes you bigger and more difficult to go around.

Maintain Contact

Watch for the player you were responsible for defending. Back up a bit until you bump into them. On a rebound, always keep in contact with the player you’re boxing out. Once you find your player, stick out your rear end and push back. This is where ‘the Round Mound of Rebound’ had his advantage, and so can you. He used his rear end to push his opponent away from the basket and the ball. A tall player will foul you if they jump over you to get a rebound.

Stay Low

You will have to change your position to stay between your man and the basket. If you’re maintaining contact with your opponent, you’ll know where they’re trying to go. Your man may also try to out-maneuver you to get the inside position. Therefore, it is important to watch for players that may try to fake one way and go another, or attempt a spin move to misdirect you. Stay low and move your feet. Also, be wary that your opponent may try to push you under the basket and away from the spot you’ve established. Stay low and push back.

Get the Ball

Your knees are bent so you are in a perfect position to jump. Attack the ball at the peak of your jump with energy and pin it between your hands. Be sure to grasp it firmly with both hands and be ready to pass the ball to a teammate. Just like the box out position, your elbows should be out perpendicular from your body.


Even if you’re not the tallest player on the court, boxing out can help your team. By keeping your opponent away from the ball, it can allow for teammates to get rebounds. While it can be difficult for smaller players to get rebounds, players that show the ‘want to’ are going to make an impact on the court.