Del Harris: 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Individual Rebounder

Del Harris: 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Individual Rebounder by Bob Starkey

This post was originally featured on Coach Starkey’s website:

The following comes from “Winning Defense” by Del Harris:

1. To be an effective rebounder a player must make it a top priority. A player has to want to be a defender and a rebounder. They go hand in hand and the same dogged determination is required to become successful at each. Success in both begins in the mind, not in the size of the body.

2. Make the first contact when a shot goes up in the air. Hit a body and only then should a player look for and move toward the ball. The best method of blocking out is to step toward the nearest opponent and reverse pivot into him with a low, wide base. The object is to tie up the opponent’s lower legs with the tail end. Spread the upper arms out wide with the elbows bent and the hands pointing upward.

3. Keep the hand up for better rebounding.  Do not leave the hands down and do not reach back to hold the opponent as so many players do.  In position with a reasonably wide, low base with arms spread and the hands up, a rebounder can feel his opponent move.  He can move a step or two with him to keep him sealed behind him as he pursues the ball.

4. Determine to go after every ball.  If a player goes after twenty balls, he may get four or five.  If he goes after four or five, he won’t get any.  Good rebounders go after more balls than average players do.  They aggressively pursue a ball after blocking out, not being content to get only the ones that come their direction.

5. Make space for yourself to rebound when the shot goes up.  The forward step into your man followed by a reverse pivot will help give more space between your body position and the goal.  It’s easy to rebound a ball in front of the body, but very difficult to jump backwards to get one.

6. Be relentless. Good rebounders do not give up o n a ball because they get blocked out or seem to be out of position. They work to get themselves into the action by spinning around people or by going to the baseline under the blockout and knifing back up into the lane to battle for the ball. They jump the second and third time for the ball.

7. Get to the logical rebound angles. Go to the weak side for rebounds when possible. Seal off rebounders who have deep inside position. Push them deeper and lock them up so they can get out. Then chase down any long rebounds.

8. Guards should consider rebounding a challenge, especially the defensive rebound. On both ends of the court there are now more long rebounds than in previous years because of the proliferation of three-point shots. Long shots that are missed equal long rebounds. Guards who are alert and tough will claim a lot of these balls.

9. Plan for offensive rebounding by taking decent shots.  Shots that come within the framework of the offense should give the offense more of an opportunity to rebound because the shots are expected and a well-constructed offensive attack will take into consideration the positioning of rebounders.

10. Study your teammates’ shooting habits and learn those of your opponents. This way, you’ll know whose shot rebounds softly and whose come off the board hard.

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image_handlerBob Starkey, widely considered one of the top minds in all of college basketball, is in his fourth season (2015-16) as an assistant coach at Texas A&M.

Starkey has had a decorated career, having been a part of 636 collegiate victories, 19 NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Elite Eight and five straight trips to the Women’s Final Four (2004-08), including serving as Acting Head Coach for LSU’s 2007 Women’s Final Four run.Starkey’s former players have gone on to distinguished post-collegiate careers, including both an NBA Finals MVP, Shaquille O’Neal (2001, 2002), and a WNBA Finals MVP, Seimone Augustus (2011). Ten of his players have been drafted in the First Round of the NBA or WNBA Draft, including top five picks Augustus (first overall), O’Neal (first), Slyvia Fowles (second), Chris Jackson (third) and Kelsey Bone (fifth). Seven of his players were named NBA or WNBA All-Rookie during their first year in the league, including A&M’s Bone.

In addition, three of his players—O’Neal (1996 Atlanta), Augustus (2008 Beijing & 2012 London) and Fowles (2008 Beijing & 2012 London)—have gone on to win Olympic Gold Medals.

One of the best defensive coaches in basketball, Starkey’s teams have allowed an average of 54.1 points per game since 2004-05. In seven of those seasons, Starkey’s team has ranked among the top 10 nationally in points allowed per game, and six of his players have been named to the SEC All-Defensive team, since the conference started naming that team in 2007-08.

His players have won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times, with A&M’s Jordan Jones winning the award twice (in 2013-14 and 2014-15) as well as Fowles in 2007-08.

Since arriving to A&M in 2012, Starkey has helped the Aggies to the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship and the 2014 NCAA Elite Eight. As A&M’s “defensive coordinator,” he has helped the Aggies average fewer than 60 points allowed in all three of his seasons in Aggieland.

Starkey spent 22 seasons (1989-11) at LSU, the last 13 of which came on the bench with the women’s basketball program. He helped the Lady Tigers to five straight Final Fours from 2004-08, and served as Acting Head Coach for the 2007 NCAA Tournament (4-1). Starkey spent a season at UCF (2011-12) immediately prior to coming to A&M.

Starkey helped guide LSU to four SEC Championships, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights and five consecutive trips to the Final Four. He was a key component in the Lady Tigers’ outstanding record of 326-105 (.756) from 1998-2011.

Starkey joined the Lady Tigers’ program on a full-time basis in 1998 under Sue Gunter, one of three Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coaches he has worked for (Van Chancellor, Gary Blair). Starkey had previously served as the administrative assistant for both the LSU men’s and women’s basketball team for two years.

In his first role at LSU, Starkey served as an assistant coach for Dale Brown on the LSU men’s basketball staff from 1990-96, during which time the Tigers participated in four NCAA Tournaments. While on the men’s staff, Starkey worked closely in developing three first-round NBA draft picks in Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts. As a recruiter, he helped sign three nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including one which was rated No. 1 in the country.

In his 27-year collegiate coaching tenure, Starkey has worked with 18 20-win teams and has been a postseason participant 18 times.

Before his extended stretch at LSU, Starkey spent one year as an assistant at Marshall during the 1988-89 season and three seasons as a men’s assistant coach at West Virginia State from 1984-87. In his final season at West Virginia State, he helped guide the Yellow Jackets to conference and district titles on their way to the NAIA National Championship game.

Starkey began his coaching career on the high school level as an assistant at Winfield High School in West Virginia.

Starkey, who considers himself a full-time student of the game, has written numerous articles and has authored such basketball books as The 2-3 Match-Up Defense and Motion Offense. His latest project is a Basketball Coaching Series of books that include The Art of Being An Assistant Coach, The Art of Scouting and The Art of Motivation. Starkey is a master motivator and runs his own coaching and player online blog that features daily updates at

Starkey is originally from Charleston, W.Va., and is married to the former Sherie Hayslett, also a native of West Virginia.

Career Timeline:
2012-Present: Texas A&M (Assistant Coach)
2011-12: UCF (Assistant Coach)
2007-11: LSU (Associate Head Coach)
2007: LSU (Acting Head Coach)
1998-07: LSU (Assistant Coach)
1997-98: LSU women & men (Administrative Assistant)
1990-97: LSU men (Assistant Coach)
1988-89: Marshall (Assistant Coach)
1984-87: West Virginia State men (Assistant Coach)

By The Numbers
3 – Olympic Gold Medalists
5 – NCAA Final Fours (2004-08)
8 – NCAA Elite Eight Appearances
10 – First Round NBA & WNBA Draft Picks
19 – NCAA Tournament Appearances
54.1 – Points Allowed since 2004-05
636 – Collegiate Coaching Wins

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