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Basketball Drill - Rebounding "War" Drill

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

This drill stresses boxing out and rebounding, and running the fast break off the rebound, and has been a favorite at Michigan State. There are variations of this drill, and this article describes one way to run it. You can make your own adaptations.


This is a 5-on-5 drill, so divide the team into two squads. One team starts out on defense with all five players in the paint area... two at the blocks, two at the elbows and one at the free-throw line.

The offensive team starts with all five players on the perimeter arc, or you can put them in a 1-3-1 set with three perimeter players, one at the high post and one in the short corner. Optionally, you can vary the offensive setup according to what you expect your next opponent will play.

Rebounding war drill

Running the Drill:

The coach, an assistant or a manager will shoot the ball up from somewhere at the 12-17 foot range. The defenders must each find a man to box out. The defender must "find" his/her man and go make contact ("hit") before going for the ball.

The offensive players (except the point guard) all crash the boards for the rebound and immediately look to score if they get the rebound. If the offense seems to be taking too long to shoot, or if someone yells "set it up", start over with the coach taking another shot.

If the defense gets the rebound, they immediately look for the outlet pass and run your fast break. Once they get the ball up the floor, they too can go for any offensive rebound off a missed shot. Once the defense gets the rebound, the drill is over. Reset (as in the diagram) and the coach takes another shot to re-start the drill.

Rules and Pointers:

Rebound everything, including made shots. Go after every loose ball, even if it is out-of-bounds (there is no out-of-bounds in this drill). Allow a certain amount of physical play... this is "war".

This obviously depends on the age group you are working with. Let it be aggressive and physical, but keep it under control so that no tempers flare and no-one gets injured. No "dirty play" is allowed. Make sure the defensive players are using good boxing-out technique (see Rebounding). Do not allow flagrant pushing or holding... if fact you can call a foul if this happens, and then reset again.


Award 1 point for a made basket. Award 1 point for defensive rebounds, 2 points for offensive rebounds, and 1 point for steals. Subtract 1 point for a turnover or a foul (but again "let them play" as much as you can). You can run the drill for 10 minutes, giving each team 5-minutes on defense and 5-minutes on offense. Or you can play to a score of 15. Losers run.

See this War Rebounding drill from Coach Chris Mack:

Helpful DVDs:

Here are several Helpful DVDs, including one from Tom Izzo, Michigan State Head Coach, whose teams are noted for their tough rebounding.

Tom Izzo: Dominating Rebounding & Man-to-Man Defensive Drills

Tom Izzo: Dominating Rebounding & Man-to-Man Defensive Drills
By Tom Izzo, 2000 NCAA Champions, 3X National Coach of the Year. Coach Izzo shares one of the most dominating man-to-man defensive and rebounding systems in college basketball today. Izzo's teams have been among the nation's leaders in rebounding margin (+11.7) and scoring defense (58.9) since he took over in the '95-'96 season. The seven defensive drills that Izzo covers include... (more info)

Price: $39.99
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Competitive Rebounding Drills

Competitive Rebounding Drills
with Skip Prosser, former Wake Forest Head Coach, ACC Coach of the Year, 2003 #1 Rebounding Team in 2003 (NCAA, Division I), with a +9.6 rebounding margin!

This informative instructional DVD includes some of the best rebounding pressure drills ever! Skip Prosser teaches the fundamentals for successful team rebounding philosophy in This incredible demonstration video! All of the competitive drills demonstrated are based on these three major components: 1) Never let each other down 2) Collective Responsibility 3) It is not how big you are but how big you play!Packed with thirteen two-minute drills, two four-minute drills, and one eight-minute drill, Prosser outlines players' rebounding responsibilities within each drill and shares methods for making successful rebounding a source of pride for your players. Every drill is competitive, complete with example of consequences and rewards. An added bonus includes a special presentation on how to develop as a coach, and how to deal with players and parents. This is really a "gold mine" of great information. (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Copyright © 2001 - 2016, James A. Gels, all rights reserved.