Rather than advocate a particular system, I’d like to catalog and break down “universals” that most systems have at their cores or might want to consider for such. Let’s start in reverse order and start at the end of a possession:
BLOCKING OUT: Not too many coaches disagree with the notion that blocking out is a good thing. Nothing is more destructive and disheartening to a defense than having a potential “stop” than an offensive rebound to lengthen an opponent’s possession. Now, coaches vary a lot in the teaching and emphasis on blocking out but there are some generalities to mull over:
One can be at the obsessive end of the spectrum and only be mildly concerned (or not at all) with running a fast break after a rebound. This coach is only concerned with the opponent getting as few offensive rebounds as possible. Obviously, there will be long rebounds that the opponent gets even if all 5 players form a shell with their blockouts. This coach is probably wise telling his players that long offensive rebounds will happen. (The last thing a coach wants to do is be critical of a player who does everything he’s asked and then the opposite result occurs. In its simplest form, one can’t ask a player to take “good shots”, and when he does and misses, be critical.) The coach who likes this style likely teaches a front pivot to make contact with the offensive man because the defender can see the offensive man the entire time. Teams that use this approach often rebound the ball low to the ground and farther away from the basket; hence late rebounds aren’t conducive to running. Many times, these teams actually “rebound” the ball after it hits the floor. (In fact, sometimes these coaches will drill and have their players block out until the ball hits the floor and comes to a stop). This system has all 5 defenders blocking out with the same fervor and technique and no one leaks out or goes to outlet spots. This system will yield the fewest offensive rebounds but be challenged executing an effective primary break.
At the other end of the blocking out spectrum, there is the coach who teaches either a quick reverse pivot into his man or even less- a step, a hand in the chest and some contact. There is a lot of emphasis on quickness to the offensive man and quickness to the ball. There will be higher rebounds in the air and closer to the basket. This system will allow for a guard or two to leak out or go to outlet areas. Running a fast break is easier but the possibility for slippage increases for breakdowns in blocking out. This system will obviously yield more offensive rebounds but be much better suited to get out on a primary break and attack.
Where a coach falls in this spectrum is an individual choice. Personnel might very well dictate the style from season to season. If a coach has a virtual Olajuwon for his level, he might not be as obsessive about this as another coach who is playing with overmatched personnel. Then, of course, a coach could switch his emphasis from game to game but this tactic is easier said than done.
Again, risk-reward is at the heart of this issue. Holding opponents to one shot a possession is everyone’s goal. Now, how do you go about it?