Rebounding Percentage: Putting a Fresh Coat on the Paint

There’s a new way of look­ing at one of the game’s para­mount stats. Now some coach­es have found new ways to attack the glass.

Rebounding Percentage: Putting a Fresh Coat on the Paint

There’s a new way of look­ing at one of the game’s para­mount stats. Now some coach­es have found new ways to attack the glass.

If you hold stead­fast to the belief that num­bers nev­er lie, you prob­a­bly still con­cede that they some­times don’t point due north. Because, let’s face it, there are few sta­tis­tics in this game that require as much addi­tion­al con­text as rebounds. 

Rebounding totals can be deceiv­ing on their own, espe­cial­ly in this age when there are more three-point attempts than ever. It makes sense that more coach­es are turn­ing to rebound­ing per­cent­age over more tra­di­tion­al rebound­ing figures. 

Not all 15-board nights are the same. That’s why this stat is need­ed — to help sep­a­rate the rub­ber from the road.

How It Works

Offensive rebound­ing is one of the Four Factors, a group of stats some coach­es live by, and also plays a cru­cial role in a team’s effec­tive field goal percentage. 

Looking at the two game totals below, tell us which night Team A was more effec­tive on the glass.

Game 1 

Game 2

Team rebound­ing per­cent­age totals are cal­cu­lat­ed as an esti­mat­ed per­cent­age of avail­able rebounds cap­tured. For offense, here’s how that for­mu­la is going to look.

For defense, revert some of these val­ues. In oth­er words, oppo­nents’ defen­sive rebounds in the offen­sive for­mu­la becomes oppo­nents’ offen­sive rebounds below, and so on.

Crunch the num­bers and ask your­self, which game did Team A have bet­ter con­trol on the glass?

How Teams Value It

At the nation­al­ly-ranked Beaver Dam (Wisc.) girls bas­ket­ball pro­gram, coach Tim Chase found a recent study that shows an increase in offen­sive rebound­ing per­cent­age as a team piles up three-point attempts. Chase now sets a goal of hold­ing oppo­nents to less than 10 three attempts per game. 

With the explo­sion of three-point attempts in today’s game, some thought lead­ers such as Basketball Immersion have the­o­rized that the best place to be posi­tioned for a rebound is at the free throw line. That makes sense, since long-range shots tend to have a longer recoil.

But on this point, Chase has gone against the grain and empha­sizes crash­ing the glass instead of sit­ting at the foul line, or hang­ing at the wings try­ing to pre­vent a would-be fast break.

You might give up, once in a while, some­thing on the oth­er end,” Chase said. But as I’m watch­ing that game I’m think­ing, the points we’re going to get per pos­ses­sion for get­ting offen­sive rebounds, com­pared to what we’re going to get being deep and sit­ting back, which kind of goes against some of your bas­ket­ball instincts, right?”

The results speak for them­selves. The Golden Beavers have won three straight Wisconsin state titles, last los­ing to an in-state oppo­nent in 2016. The last two sea­sons, they’ve hov­ered north of 40 per­cent on offen­sive rebound­ing per­cent­age, and above 70 per­cent on defen­sive, aver­ag­ing 35.3 boards per game. 

Highly-suc­cess­ful Lynden Christian (Wash.) girls bas­ket­ball coach Brady Bomber has has tak­en a dif­fer­ent approach to rebound­ing too. And it’s reflect­ed in his team’s 76.5 defen­sive rebound­ing per­cent­age for 2018 – 19. 

By the tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of rebound­ing, Bomber found that his play­ers end­ed up fish­ing for bod­ies to box out instead of focus­ing on track­ing the ball. Now he bor­rows tack­ling shields from the foot­ball team so his play­ers can prac­tice a hit and get” tech­nique, stick­ing a fore­arm in the opponent’s chest and then hunt­ing for the ball.

I know a lot of coach­es have got­ten away from the offen­sive glass in a lot of set­tings, but we’ve got­ten more into embrac­ing it,” Bomber said. Like hey, we’re send­ing four to the glass, and our shoot­ing per­cent­age can vary a lot depend­ing on the oppo­nent, so let’s go chuck and chase.”

How You Can Use It

In an era where teams aim to push the ball at a blis­ter­ing tem­po, the best tran­si­tion defense is an offen­sive rebound.

Some col­lege and NBA teams the­o­rize that if they can keep their oppo­nents’ total num­ber of pos­ses­sions under a cer­tain fig­ure, they have a very good chance of win­ning the game. Offensive rebound­ing per­cent­age can affect this goal great­ly, which is why some of these afore­men­tioned teams are dou­bling down on crash­ing the boards.

From a scout­ing per­spec­tive, if you under­stand your opponent’s rebound­ing per­cent­age, you’ll not only know how they’re attack­ing the glass, but how you can counter. If they’re not hit­ting the offen­sive glass hard, should you sit in a zone and try to force low-per­cent­age shot attempts? If they have a high over­all per­cent­age, should you switch to a man-to-man defense and try to get on bodies?

Seeing the rebound­ing per­cent­age break­down by quar­ter will also give you some per­spec­tive on what line­ups are work­ing, and which ones aren’t. Say your third-quar­ter defen­sive per­cent­age is too low for your lik­ing — do you need to reeval­u­ate your sub­sti­tu­tion pat­terns for those final few min­utes of the frame? Once you decide, you can then look at line­up effi­cien­cy data to fur­ther nar­row down where improve­ments need to be made.


Interactive reports from Hudl Assist will give you advanced rebound­ing stats tied direct­ly to video, so you can see what’s lead­ing to those percentages.

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