How to Box Out in Basketball


Basketball is one of the most well-liked, and widely sighted, sports in the world and there are many techniques and practices such a shooting, dribbling, passing and rebounding. In this article I’d like to share some of my thoughts to tackle rebounding and its component: “Boxing Out”.

Box outing an opponent usually happens when a players goes for a rebound on offense and on defense. It is the time when a player tries to position himself first, and disabling the opponent from getting a good position for the rebound. Let’s have a look at what rebounding is all about. According to Wikipedia’s definition, the objective of rebounding is to successfully gain possession of the basketball after a missed field goal or free throw, as it rebounds from the hoop or backboard. Rebounding is very crucial to get as much chance as you can to shoot the ball into the basket.

Now, let us move on to boxing out. What is “boxing out”? Boxing out is one of the most used phrases when we talk about rebounding. According to basic Basketball glossary, boxing out is a way to establish and maintain a rebounding position between the basket and your opponent. In addition, according to Wikipedia, boxing out is a technique used in basketball to obtain rebounds. A player boxes out another player by positioning himself between the other player and the basket. The action is also commonly known as “blocking out”. A team can be boxed-out by several players using this technique to stop other players from rebounding.

Boxing-out is the first priority especially in defensive rebounding. Defenders usually have the the inside position closer to the basket when a shot is taken, and they will get the majority of rebounds if they keep and protect this position.

Let us now move on to the main issue on how to box out in basketball. So, how does a player actually box out? This question is very tricky since every player has its own technique in doing it, but the principles are still the same by positioning yourself between the other player and the basket. The goal is to stop opposing players from rebounding to control the ball. One of the famous lines used by coaches all over the world is: “Whoever controls the rebounds, controls the game!”.

Here are some tips on how to box out defenders in basketball:

1. Keep an eye on the player you are defending all the time.
You must ensure that you see the person you are guarding. If your opponent has the ball, you should face him with your arms raised in front of him, and your feet at shoulder width apart. On the other hand, if he does not have the ball on his hands, you must drop back a little so that both the ball and your opponent are in your peripheral vision. In this way, you can always anticipate his movements, and then block him along the way when the ball goes off in the air and rebounds off the ring.

2. Watch your opponent’s movement.
When the ball is shot, keep a short distance between you and your opponent. Watch the motion of his feet, and wait for him to make the first move. You must be very smart when you do this. This is very helpful for you in terms of getting the perfect boxing out position. Bring yourself between your opponent and the ball.

3. Utilize your pivoting skills in getting in position.
If your opponent tries to penetrate on the right side of the basket, put your right foot in place and pivot around. On the other hand, if he goes to your left, put your left foot in place and pivot around. Your work in boxing your opponent out will be much easier and faster when you utilize your pivoting skills.

4. Establish contact and lower your body.
It does not really matter if you are a big, or a small, player. Either type of players can box out. The important thing is to lower your body a bit to get a low center of gravity, and get enough strength to push your opponent away from the rebounding area. The thing you should remember is to use your back to box-out, and face the ring to see where the ball will fall. The idea is that you stay in front of you opponent to get first access as the ball rebounds off the ring. When he tries to reach for the ball when he is behind you, there is a great chance the he will get a foul call.

5. Stick with your man.
Your opponent will try to find ways to get around you. You should be clever enough to handle this situation. When he tries to get around you to position himself in front of the basket, keep a low body position, slide your feet, and always keep you arms raised and spread out. Do not hook your guard by moving your hands back, because you might get yourself a foul call.

Players should get the habit of grabbing loose balls and dive for them, if necessary. This a tough play that has been the deciding factor in winning and losing many games, rebounding may be the best objective statistical measure of individual effort.


About Author

I have been playing Basketball for as long as I can remember and coaching from the age of sixteen. My blog,, has been created to help Basketball lovers from all skill levels to improve their game. I hope that you find my blog both useful and entertaining!


  1. Pushing is illegal in basketball, and it’s illegal whether you push with your hands elbows or body or back. In the NCAA rule book, it says pushing with your body is illegal but this is widely misunderstood as legal because of misguided articles like this on the Internet.

    Here’s the exact text in the NCAA rule book of basketball.

    4. Displacement As It Relates to Rebounding
    a. Using the body to push an opponent off her legally established position is illegal and a foul shall be called. A player may not be pushed farther away from the basket.

    I looked this up because I got sick and tired of people doing this to me in pickup games to prevent me from jumping high for the rebound. They’ll get under me and shove me out and away from the basket using their hip and butt and they think this is legal because they’re merely pushing with the body. This generally happens when people know they can’t out jump me and it’s very frustrating and dangerous because you can get your legs knocked out under you during a jump and you’ll land in an awkward way and break something.

    I think the best thing to do is to quote NCAA rule 4A that pushing/displacing opponents with the body while fighting for a rebound is illegal. Since there’s no ref in pickup games, the only thing that keeps fists from flying is an honor code and good faith. If people believe they are in the right when pushing out, they’ll continue doing what they think is right. If people continue doing this as a flagrant foul, then there will be conflict.

    • Ryan Crosby on

      I feel your pain, this happens to me all the time. There’s a difference between holding your ground and giving a hip check to get a better rebounder out of the lane. Just yesterday I was shoved with arms extended as I swooped into the lane for a rebound, but when I said something the opponent said he was boxing me out. The best part is I jump towards the rim and take the contact from the rear and end up having to reach backward to try and grab the ball because I got pushed off my angle.

      It can be so frustrating and you are right about it being an extremely risky play that can result in serious injury for the person being displaced.

  2. @George & @Ryan

    Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate!

    When watching rebounding situations, especially in the paint, there is a lot of “pushing” in sense of body contat and players trying to maintain their position to get the rebound. As Ryan said, holding your ground is a legal action. “Pushing” (or hip checking) in terms of a flagrant behaviour is something totally illegal.

    As you’ve stated, once a players has maintained a legal defensive (or offensive) position, he is allowed to maintain it. If the player jumps, he is entitled to land on the exact spot where he jumped off. If another player moves to that position, while he is in the air, this is a flagrant foul (at least here in Europe) and must be called by the refs. There is so much that can happen if people do this and it must be called!

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