The art of rebounding by Dennis Rodman


Rebounding, or the basketball reference “dirty job”.

The NBA record for rebounds in a game is 55 by Wilt Chamberlain on the 24th November 1960 stands still.

Few have had the opportunity to be named a dominant rebounder with less physical advantage. Dennis Rodman proved to be one of them, an outlier.

Despite the off-the-court controversies that Rodman was involved in, he surely remained professional and irreverent on grabbing the ball on the boards.

Nonetheless, Dennis lead the league in rebounds per game for seven seasons with 2.01m (!). He finished his career with 13.1 rebounds per game – Highest career rebounds per game average since 1973.

  • Offensive Rebound Percentage: 1st in 7 seasons. 1st in NBA Career.
  • Defensive Rebound Percentage: 1st in 7 seasons. 1st in NBA Career.
  • Total Rebound Percentage: 1st in 8 seasons. 1st in NBA Career.

With clearly less height advantage, there should be some differential factors to achieve the latter numbers right?

I agree with you. The effective wingspan usage (arguably between 7’2 – 2,19m and 7’4 – 2.25m) on boxing out was unique. Kids nowadays undervalues the detailed needed to successfully box out his opponent.

However, his strongest asset on rebounding, and not very talked information is his positioning.

Where does Rodman go when someone shots the ball? Is it just near the basket?

No. Rodman went to a very detailed exercise which separates him from the remaining rebounders – studying his opponents through film and observation. A meticulous observation to say the least.

Better than my own words, I will mention the Jo-Ann Barnes article in the Detroit Free Press:

“We were standing in the lay-up line, warming up and shooting, and Rodman was standing back and watching everybody shoot. I said, ‘Hey, come on, you have to participate; everybody’s shooting lay-ups, you have to shoot lay-ups, too.’ And he said, ‘I’m just watching the rotations on the basketball.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ He said, ‘Like, when you shoot, your ball spins three times in the air. Joe’s sometimes has 3 1/2 or four times.’

“That’s how far Rodman had taken rebounding, to a totally different level, like off the charts. He knew the rotation of every person that shot on our teamif it spins sideways, where it would bounce, how often it would bounce left or right. He had rebounding down to a science, and I never heard anyone think or talk about rebounding and defense the way he could break it down.

“When you talk about basketball IQ, I’d put Rodman at a genius level.”

With that said, the receipt for rebounding success was just revealed. Now, spread the word to the youngsters out there to study the game. Study with detail, attentively and with precision.

Dennis Rodman did so and he is definitely among the premium rebounders.

Work smart (and hard). The willingness to be the best takes time and study, even on the court.