By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
This weekly column is titled “On the Rebound,” although technically it has nothing to do with rebounding. This week will be the exception. The title actually came with very little thought and was based on the fact I was rebounding back into sports writing after several years away.
The rebounding we will discuss today is the term for grabbing a missed shot in basketball. It is not a difficult thing to do really. You don’t have to be tall or exceptionally fast to be a great rebounded. A good coach could probably teach a golden retriever to rebound. Still I see so many games from college to elementary school where teams are getting whipped on the boards. It really just comes down to effort.
Example 1: A pickup game at London Elementary. Several guys converged on the outdoor courts to shoot a lot of bad shots and pretend we could still play basketball. I was in decent shape at the time and took pride in rebounding. A girl joined the game, and although she was just as tall as I was and a probably a better basketball player, I tried to be a gentleman.
The way I was taught to rebound involved stepping in front of the opponent, bending your knees to keep your butt low, and push other player backwards. It didn’t seem like a proper way to treat a lady. The first shot that came off, I passively stepped in front of the girl and held my arms out limply. There was no physical contact. The entire episode would have been acceptable at a church picnic or a Snowball Dance. At least until she went for the rebound. She whipped a leg around me, hit me in the jaw with an elbow, and then pushed me backwards.
You will never hear me tell someone they rebound like a girl. It has been proven to me that girls are just as capable of rebounding. I do see a lot of players that rebound like sports writers.
You cannot rebound if you are afraid to touch someone. You cannot rebound if you stay in one place and assume the other player will concede. You must assume every shot is a miss, even the one’s you take.
Example 2: Church basketball. Several guys converged in a church gym to shoot a lot of bad shots and talk trash to each other, followed by a prayer. One guy came in that was older, shorter, and couldn’t jump 12 inches if the floor dropped six. He was still wearing a uniform from the blue collar factory job where he worked. He did not look like a basketball player, but rebounds don’t care how you look. I watched him grab rebound after rebound without ever leaving the ground. People tried to go over him and around him with no success. He was a fortress. Grown men tried to pry the rebounds from his hands, but you would have better luck taking honey from a bear. Getting a rebound is just half of it. You have to know what to do once you get it.
If you are a player and see me on the sideline watching your game, remember this. Not everyone can score 25 points a game or take off at the foul line for a dunk. We are not all blessed with speed. Some even lack intelligence. But the ability to rebound is neither God-given or bought. It is earned with sweat. If you can rebound, a coach will find a spot for you. Now go box somebody out.