In some ways basketball is like a chess game, with players moving around the court trying to gain the best positions. In other aspects, however, basketball is a game of power and aggression, such as when you’re battling for a rebound, or driving hard to the hoop and daring the defenders to get in your way. When practicing, incorporate drills that focus on playing aggressively. You'll condition yourself to grab more rebounds, take charges and put the pressure where it belongs -- on your opponents.
4-on-4 Rebounding Drill
The battle for a rebound is often won by the player who simply wants the ball the most and is willing to fight for it. To help get your players in the habit of battling for every rebound, divide your squad into two teams of four players each and have them play a half-court game. Line up your remaining players on the sideline, at the free throw line extended. The first player in line enters the game after a shot is taken and someone rebounds the ball. Whoever grabs the rebound -- or retrieves the ball after a made basket -- passes to the entering player. The rebounder then leaves the court. As the drill progresses, the tired players will be eager to battle for a rebound so they can leave the court for a rest.
Rebound Positioning Drill
Aggressive rebounding doesn’t begin when the ball caroms off the rim or backboard. Aggressive rebounding begins as players battle for position before the shot, or when the shot is in the air. To practice positioning, place two defenders in the low post on opposite sides of the lane, two offensive players at either side of the free-throw line, and two more offensive players on the wings. Have a coach or another player shoot from the free-throw line while the four players in the lane battle for position, then for the rebound. If a defender rebounds she passes to a wing player. If an offensive player rebounds she takes the ball aggressively to the hoop. If the offense rebounds the ball the defenders must run a lap around the court. If the offensive rebounder scores, both offensive players gain immunity from running the first time they permit a rebound when they rotate to the defensive spots.
Taking a Charge
Sometimes, standing still is the most aggressive action you can take. For example, if a defender establishes a set position, then a ballhandler runs into her, the offensive player should be called for a charging foul. To get your players used to taking charges, have a dribbler begin from the perimeter and have a defender establish position in the ballhandler’s path to the basket. Before you begin the drill, place an exercise mat beneath the hoop, where the defender will fall, and have a coach or another player ready to catch the defender if she falls away from the mat. The ballhandler dribbles straight to the hoop and collides with the defender. Teach the defender to keep her feet in place, her arms in front and to fall on her rear end to prevent an injury.
Sometimes aggression is built into your team concept. For example, you can employ aggressive defense to try to force the other team to turn the ball over. Place two offensive and two defensive players in the backcourt. Have a coach inbound the ball. The defenders guard the offensive players closely and try to force them to catch the ball in a corner or near the baseline. If the ball is inbounded successfully, the defenders hound the two offensive players up to the midcourt line. If one defender is beaten off the dribble, the second defender moves over to help. Have a clock on the court to see if the offense can receive the inbound pass within five seconds, and whether the offense can advance over midcourt within 10 seconds.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.