Free Throw Rebound Tendencies

My coaching mentor, coach Sky Nelson, was always adamant about lining up for free throws defensively in a particular way. He stressed having a player even with the free throw line, on the shooters left, at the three point line. In his 30 year coaching career, he recounted to me losing some games due to not being able to secure a defensive rebound on a free throw at a critical time. Now with Hoopsalytics, we are tracking rebound locations for various shot types, and we can verify if Coach Sky was correct by using analytics. And it turns out he was spot on, at least for the two teams I have coached recently and have been tracking.

I also heard a Slappin’ Glass Podcast recently where one of the coaches stressed trying to get what they call “Bobcats”, or offensive rebounds from missed free throws (I can’t recall the episode). But in essence, one player on the free throw shooter’s team cross screens for the other to try to gain an advantage on the miss. But which side should they screen on?

Fortunately, rebound tracking in Hoopsalytics can give you the answer for your team. I examined all the free throw misses for my last two teams, and the answer is surprising, and consistent.

Here’s the rebound chart for all missed free throws for my varsity girls team and their opponents this year through 11 games:

And for 8 games from my freshmen team from the first year I started tracking rebound locations:

The area coach Sky insisted upon occupying for a rebounder is highlighted in red.

The amazing thing is that for both teams, most of the free throws miss left. It’s more pronounced for the Girls team, but the freshmen boys team also had this bias.

How did we generate these images? In Hoopsalytics, we used the rebound tracking tool to make these rebound charts. The charts were generated for all teams like this:

We will reach out to our other clients/coaches and see if this left-miss effect hold true for them as well. But the data for “rebound left” is pretty compelling, and will affect how we set up for rebounds going forward.

Do you have a theory on why this occurs? If so, please reach out and share!






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Category: Analytics