What Is Boxing Out In Basketball? Definition and Tips

What is boxing out in basketball?

Boxing out in basketball is a defensive rebounding position wherein a player places himself as a barrier between an opponent and the basket. It’s an effective technique for blocking an opponent attempting to do a rebound.

So, how exactly can you do an effective box out? Let’s find out.

What is Boxing Out in Basketball?

Now let’s talk about what is boxing out in basketball in detail. Of course, it doesn’t refer to performing punching moves on an opponent to gain an advantage in the game.

In basketball, boxing out refers to a rebound strategy that both the defense and offense can employ to retrieve a missed shot or obtain possession of the ball after it touches the basket.

Specifically, boxing out is a defensive rebounding position. When a player is boxing out an opponent, he slightly lowers his hips as if performing a squat.

Then, he widens his stance and extends his arms horizontally, placing himself as a wall-like block between an opponent and the hoop.

Why is it Called Box Out?

boxing out in basketball

We cannot find reliable sources that establish the origin of the term box out in basketball. But regardless of who coined the term, you would agree that it’s pretty self-explanatory.

It’s probably called box out because of the imaginary shape that the position creates. With a wide stance and arms extended sideward, the player creates a seemingly box-like shape. And because his body acts as a barrier between the opponent and the basket, it makes the rebound ‘out’ of reach for the opponent.

Boxing Out Rules in Different Leagues

We’ve gained insight into what boxing out in basketball. But what are the rules that govern and limit this technique?

The rules are pretty much the same across most leagues and levels.

While you cannot eliminate physical contact to do a practical box out, this contact should be limited and not too aggressive. Keep your arms extended sideward, but you need to avoid some things.

Don’t hook the opponent’s arm, swing his elbow, or shove him—also, no pushing using your hands. You might be called out foul if you commit any of these while boxing out.

And when that happens, the opposing team will gain possession of the ball and even be awarded free throws.

Can You Push While Boxing Out?

Yes, but not with your hands. And second, not too aggressive. You can also push your opponent backward with your butt.

This is the most effective legal way to push your opponent away from the hoop. But as mentioned, keep your arms spread wide without aiming to wrap them around your opponent.

This position in itself is enough to make it hard for the opposing player to get around and attempt to rebound.

Must-Know Tips to Successfully Box Out


Like any other technique in basketball, it takes some time to master boxing out and make it more effective in securing chances for rebounds. Here are some tips you can try to box out successfully. We’ve divided the tips into two stages: before and during the game.

Before the Game

  • Include different box out drills in your team practice

The most common box-out scenarios include boxing out from a man-to-man defense, boxing out from a zone defense, and boxing out for a free throw.

  • Strengthen your lower body

It takes a set of strong legs and torso to box out better. So aside from your team exercises and drills, perform lower body workouts regularly that specifically target these areas. Weighted squats, for example, are perfect.

  • Improve your footwork

Excellent footwork is necessary to position yourself better when boxing out. So, master some footwork techniques designed for it.

During the game

Step 1: Get close to the basket when a player shoots.

Step 2: Anticipate which opponent you’re going to box out. Of course, someone closest to the basket will most likely attempt a rebound. Watch that player closely.

Step 3: Position yourself in front of your opponent. Lower your body towards the ground as if performing a slight squat. Widen your stance with wide arms extended sideward and your butt slightly pushing your opponent backward.

Step 4: Keep your focus on the ball. Remember that boxing out effectively isn’t the end goal. Instead, it is to attempt for a rebound and score points.

Step 5: Anticipate where the ball will bounce off, then leap towards that direction with your arms widely extended and ready to catch the ball.

Step 6: Once you have the ball, avoid dribbling it immediately because your opponents will try to snag it away from your hands. Put it under your chin instead with your elbows widely extended to create firm protection. Then look for an open teammate to pass the ball.

Tips to Not Get Boxed Out

We’ve learned so far what is boxing out in basketball and how to do it properly and more effectively.

On the other hand, if your team has its momentum on the hardcourt, the opposing team will surely take advantage of the opportunities to box you out when a teammate makes a successful basket. So, what can you do not to get boxed out?

  • Fake it

When running towards the hoop to attempt a rebound, run towards the direction you don’t intend to position yourself. A player from the defense will surely try to guard you. And once you see it coming, quickly change direction to the opposite side.

  • Roll-off the opponent’s back

You can do this by making a spin roll. This will counter his attempt to box him out. But you should be alert and fast to do so!


Boxing out is an effective rebounding strategy. Practice it and use it wisely within the rules to secure your team’s opportunity for the next shots.

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