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How to Get More Offensive Rebounds After Free Throws

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The closing moments of the 2012 NCAA Final Four game between Ohio State and Kansas was a nail biter and came down to the very last possession.

With just under three second left in the game Ohio State found themselves down three points while shooting the front end of a double bonus. The shooter stepped up to the free throw line and rattled in the first foul shot. After that first free throw rattled in, Thad Matta(who was out of time outs) signaled to his shooter to intentionally miss the second foul shot in hopes that his team would secure the offensive rebound and perhaps get a put back as time ran out.

The shooter proceeded to shoot his second foul shot and, like his coach instructed, he missed. However, the defense screened out the players on the lane line and the shooter committed a lane violation going after the miss too soon. As a result Ohio State did not secure the rebound and lost by two points. Sitting there in the stands I couldn't help but think that if the offensive team practiced a couple simple free throw line rebounding strategies maybe the outcome would have been different. Below are two offensive rebounding techniques to use while at the free throw line.

Snake the Key

The first technique is called snaking the key. This technique involves the two offensive players on the lane line during the actual free throw. From a defensive perspective, one side will usually pinch the offensive player using both defenders while the other side's defenders will split box out responsibilities between the shooter and the other lane line offensive player (diagrammed to the right.

Free Throw Formation

To counteract this have both your 5 and 4 sprint to the opposite sides of the key as soon as the shooter shoots the foul shot. The thought process behind this is that if your players can get to the opposite side of the key they will now have inside position on the defense. This works especially well for teams where the rules allow athletes to cross the lane line on the release of the shot instead of when the ball hits the rim as this gives your offensive rebounders an extra second or two to carry out this action.

Attack from the Top

To fully picture this next technique I want you to refer to the diagram above. In the diagram, and in most free throw situations, there are four defenders on the lane, two offensive rebounders and a shooter. Logically speaking the defense has the advantage on missed shots 4:3. However, after taking a second look at the diagram above you will notice that outside of the three point line there is only one defender and two offensive players. Logically speaking the offense has a 2:1 advantage. Having your players crash the board from the top of the key after a free throw provides a great opportunity to gather a few extra rebounds a game.

There are two distinct teaching points I want to share with you to make this tactic more effective. First, teach your offensive players outside the three point line to listen to the defenders on the lane line. Before the shot, the top two defenders will quickly discuss who is responsible for boxing out the shooter.

If your two offensive players outside the three can determine who is boxing out the shooter it should give them inside information on where the open gaps can be found. Second, by being positioned behind the shooter, these players will have a better indication of where the shot is going to hit the rim. Knowing which side the rebound is going to bounce will allow your players to react a half step quicker than the other 6 players on the lane line.

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