What Is A Rebound In Basketball? Best Explanation & Tips

A basketball game is decided on which team scores the most points, and to score more, you need to secure the ball more often.

With more ball possessions, attempting and making more field goals will increase scoring chances. One of the ways to increase ball possessions is through rebounding. 

So, what is rebounding, and why are basketball teams encouraging their players to do it? 

Rebounding the basketball means securing the ball after a shot misses the basket. A defensive player who rebounds the ball receives a defensive rebound (DReb) stat. On the other hand, an offensive player who rebounds the ball for another shot attempt gets an offensive rebound (OReb) stat. 

Let us go deeper into the importance of rebounding the ball in basketball as well as the NBA rebound leaders.

What is a Rebound in Basketball? 

A rebound or ‘board’ is one of the five major statistical categories in basketball, aside from points, assists, steals, and blocks. It is also one of the most critical aspects of the game because it secures who has possession of the ball.

A rebound happens after a player takes possession of the basketball after a missed shot or the missed last free throw.

It’s also unnecessary for the ball to hit the rim before the person who catches it receives a rebound stat. Some examples of actions that are considered a rebound are:

  1. Catching air balls and shots that only hit the backboard;
  2. Tipping the basketball towards the rim;
  3. Recovering missed shots even if they already bounced to the ground;
  4. Securing the ball after a blocked shot.

Since it is easier for taller and stronger players to rebound the basketball, the centers and power forwards usually rebound better than the guards. A rebound can also happen regardless if you are on the offensive or defensive end of the floor.

If the rebound cannot be attributed to a single player, that rebound will be called a team rebound.

Two Types of Rebounds in Basketball

Rebound in basketball

There are two categories of rebounds in basketball, which depend on whether the rebounding player is on the offensive or defensive possession.

They are defensive rebounds and offensive rebounds.

What is a Defensive Rebound?

A defensive rebound or DReb happens if a defensive player secures a missed shot or free throw.

Getting a defensive rebound is essential so that the defensive team can take their turn to score. A defensive rebound changes the ball possession from defense into offense.

What is an Offensive Rebound?

An offensive rebound or OReb happens if an offensive player secures a teammate’s missed shot or free throw.

Securing an offensive rebound gives the offensive team more scoring attempts. There are no limits to how many offensive rebounds a team can have. Only a defensive rebound can stop further offensive rebounds.

What Basketball Position Gets the Most Rebounds? 

Ball missing the basket

Most rebounds are usually collected by the taller, stronger, higher-leaping players or those closest to the basket.

That is why the league leaders in rebounds are traditionally the centers and power forwards.

The prime examples of the traditional rebounders are Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who are all centers and standing at least 6’10” in height.

However, physical quantities are not the absolute determinants of a good rebounder. Positioning and nose for the ball are also important considerations for players to gain more rebounds, even if they are undersized or not as athletic.

The best example of an undersized rebounder is Dennis Rodman. Even with a height of ‘only’ 6’7″, he is one of the most excellent rebounders in recent NBA history — winning seven consecutive rebounding titles in the 90s.

There are also point guards skilled in rebounding even though they are shorter than the centers and power forwards like Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. They both have seasons with more than ten rebounds.

What is Boxing Out in Basketball? 

Boxing out is an action taken by a player to have a positional advantage to rebound the ball.

It includes positioning their body in front of the ring while denying their opponent an opportunity to jump for the ball to get a rebound. If a rebounder is skilled and strong enough, even a single player can also box out multiple players.

On the other hand, a strong player may require multiple players to box him out to avoid him from getting the ball. Since fighting for the boards requires physicality, a lot of fouls can also be called during rebounding.

Why is Rebounding an Essential Skill in Basketball? 

Rebounding is an essential skill in basketball because it dictates who has possession of the ball. Offensive rebounds help a team get second or third chances to score the ball while securing defensive rebounds stops the offensive team from scoring more points.

Great rebounders will try to rebound the basketball from everywhere on the court, even at the expense of their body. Like Rodman said, rebounding starts even before a shot is released. To get the rebound, you need to be early and fight hard to get to rebounding positions.

Top 5 Effective Tips to Get More Rebounds 

Men rebounding

Since rebounding rewards taller and more athletic players, there are still ways for smaller and even unathletic players to get rebounds. Here are some:

1. Box out

Boxing out is the most crucial skill needed for players to rebound better. Getting in front of the ring while also denying opponents better positions will increase a player’s chances of rebounding the ball.

2. Don’t just watch the basketball

Aside from boxing out, it is also essential to be quick on your feet and focus on how to get better positions.

3. Develop a ‘nose’ for the ball

Great rebounders are not born; they are made, and Dennis Rodman is still the best example of how smaller players can learn to rebound more. Rodman said during his earlier years of training; he would ask other players to miss baskets to identify the best positions to rebound intentionally.

4. Be more physical

Since most rebounders will try to fight for better rebounding positions, it is vital to develop a more muscular physique and be more physical during rebounding.

5. Pursue the ball for long rebounds

It is essential to get the ball regardless of where it bounces off, even if it means saving it from going out of bounds.

NBA All-time Leaders in Defensive Rebounds

PlayerTotal Rebounds
1. Kevin Garnett
(Power Forward/Center)
2. Karl Malone
(Power Forward)
3. Tim Duncan
(Power Forward/Center)
4. Dwight Howard
5. Robert Parish
6. Dirk Nowitzki
(Power Forward)
7. Hakeem Olajuwon
8. Moses Malone
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
10. Shaquille O’Neal

NBA All-time Leaders in Offensive Rebounds

PlayerTotal Rebounds
1. Moses Malone
2. Robert Parish
3. Buck Williams
(Power Forward)
4. Dennis Rodman
(Power Forward)
5. Charles Barkley
(Power Forward)
6. Shaquille O’Neal
7. Dwight Howard
8. Kevin Willis
(Power Forward/Center)
9. Hakeem Olajuwon
10. Charles Oakley
(Power Forward)

NBA All-time Leaders in Total Rebounds

PlayerTotal Rebounds
1. Wilt Chamberlain
2. Bill Russell
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
4. Elvin Hayes
(Power Forward/Center)
5. Moses Malone
6. Tim Duncan
(Power Forward/Center)
7. Karl Malone
(Power Forward)
8. Robert Parish
9. Kevin Garnett
(Power Forward/ Center)
10. Dwight Howard

NBA Single Game Rebounding Leaders since 1973

1. Moses Malone37
2. Charles Oakley35
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar34
3. Dennis Rodman34
3. Rony Seikaly34
6. Swen Nater33
6. Kevin Willis33
6. Charles Barkley33
7. Elvin Hayes32
7. Robert Parish32
10. Swen Nater (2)32
10. Moses Malone (2)32
10. Dennis Rodman (2)32
10. Dennis Rodman (3)32

NBA Season Leaders in Rebounds since 1973

PlayerPositionSeasonRebounds Per Game
1. Dennis RodmanPower Forward1991–9218.66
2. Dennis RodmanPower Forward1992–9318.26
3. Elvin HayesPower Forward1973–7418.06
4. Moses MaloneCenter1978–7917.61
5. Dennis RodmanPower Forward1993–9417.30
6. Kareem Abdul-JabbarCenter1975–7616.87
7. Dennis RodmanPower Forward1994–9516.80
8. Dennis RodmanPower Forward1996–9716.05
9. Andre DrummondCenter2017–1815.99
10. Truck RobinsonCenter1977–7815.71

Most Number of Season Leaders in Rebounds

PlayerTimes as LeaderYear
1. Wilt Chamberlain111960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973
2. Dennis Rodman71992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
3. Moses Malone61979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985
4. Dwight Howard52008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
5. Andre Drummond42016, 2018, 2019, 2020
5. Kevin Garnett42004, 2005, 2006, 2007
5. Bill Russell41958, 1959, 1964, 1965


Rebounding is one of the most critical skills in basketball that can increase a team’s chances of winning.

Though height advantage is a plus, shorter players can also be great rebounding if they get to proper positions and fight hard.

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