What Does Box Out Mean in Basketball?

Anyone who plays or watches basketball will hear a lot of different terminology about the game.  There are plenty of terms and slang words that, if you aren’t in the loop, can make things a little confusing. “Box out” is one such phrase.

Below, I will go over what “boxing out” means in the game of basketball. That breakdown will shine light on, not just the term, but how it’s used during play, the best way to do it, and what it means to the game as a whole.

Box Out: A Definition

The term box out (or block out) refers to when a player gets into a protective rebounding position to prevent another player from having a clear lane to the basket. This blocks them from getting to the ball and puts you in a better position to rebound in case of a miss.

That movement is essential, and every player needs to learn it early on in their basketball career. The sport is a game of possessions. Being able to grab a clutch board and give your team a chance to get the ball back can turn the tide or change critical momentum.

The Fundamentals of Boxing Out

Boxing someone out is easy. Boxing someone out well is a different story. You need to get good position so that you effectively prevent the player you’re guarding from getting a rebound. Just putting your body into them or haphazardly turning around during a shot won’t get the job done.

To do a solid box out, you first need to position yourself between the person you’re on and the basket. Once the shot goes up, move yourself so they can’t get by you to the hoop. From there, stick your back and legs into their torso so they can’t move.

After you make contact, you want to get your hips low and keep your fit wide apart. This trunky position ensures your opponent won’t be able to easily push through you or slip around the side. You then want to move your arms out to your sides, which gives you even more control.

Next, keep your eye on the ball. This is one of the most important parts of boxing out that often gets overlooked. Track where the shot is going to end up, and never let the opposing player get there before you. As long as you keep in contact, you should get there first.

On that note, it’s also important to keep your opponent on your body. While it’s easy to get excited and run for a rebound, disengaging with the person you’re guarding allows them to freely move around. A good box out keeps them with you at all times.

Why Boxing Out Matters

Boxing out is a fundamental move. Unlike deep threes or post footwork, it’s something that every player and at every position needs to learn. That’s because, the better at boxing out a team is, the better they will be at rebounding overall. 

If every player can prevent the person they’re guarding (or who’s guarding them) from reaching the basket, that makes the team better. It allows them to get more possessions throughout the contest, which then translates to more baskets and additional scoring.

A point guard or shooting guard may not need to use it as much as a big man down in the paint, but every player gets rebounds at one point or another. Beyond that, simply preventing the other team from getting into position is a valuable tool. 

You can go an entire game without getting a rebound, but if the person you’re on also goes the entire game without one, you’ve done a good job. There are many times where they would have gotten their team another possession and you stopped that from happening.

Final Words

Boxing out is one of the most common basketball terms, and it also happens to be one of the most common basketball moves. It’s a basic skill that, while rather simple once you know what you’re doing, takes a while to perfect. It’s a mix of power, strength, and positioning.

Getting better at boxing out is a great way to improve your game. It’s not incredibly simple, as you need to conduct drills with another person, but if it’s something you should focus on. The more time you work at maintaining contact and keeping your eye on the ball, the better you’ll be.

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