Rebound Outlet at the Nail Area Concept

An idea that could change your approach to rebounding and fast break offense is the rebound outlet at the nail area concept. I have talked about it on two podcasts now, and I get a lot of questions about this concept, so I wanted to provide some more information. By no means is this statistical or anecdotal evidence conclusive, but like everything I try and share, I hope it stimulates your thinking.

An outlet pass is used to create space. This space could be used to relieve pressure, to set up the point guard to bring the basketball up the floor, or more commonly to trigger a fast break.

What do Coaches Teach in Rebound Outlet Situations?

Coaches teach two concepts on make or miss rebound outlet situations. Most commonly taught is an outlet to the wing. More space is available on the wings because the middle of the floor is often contested by rebounders and, the transition defensive coverage usually “loads down the middle” off the floor in recovery. A wing outlet also allows a player who catches the outlet to see the whole floor as their back is to the sideline. This reduces the potential of any defenders being behind them. It can also set up a pass up the ball side wing, or a dribble to the middle of the floor.

The second teaching concept is the rebound outlet in the middle of the floor. This creates more of a straight line for the receiver. It also opens up the possibility of passing faster to either wing should an advantage be available.

In both examples, a pass to a middle rim runner is possible if that player is instructed to run the opposite lane line initially. This provides a better angle for a middle pass ahead option as the pass can go slightly diagonally rather than over the top of the player running the middle lane.

What is the Nail Rebound Outlet Concept

As a general description, the nail area is the location on the floor in the middle of the free throw line. It includes the area mapped out by the old dotted half circle inside the free throw lane. 

The nail rebound outlet concept means that our point guard is going to the nail area on all shot attempts. If they rebound the basketball, they can push or pass without requiring an outlet to get the ball to them. If a teammate rebounds the ball, they can easily break into space as they have both sides, and the middle, as an option to receive an outlet pass.

What Evidence Supports the Nail Rebound Outlet Concept

Over the course of the entire 2016-17 NBA basketball season, former assistant video coordinator for the Detroit Pistons TJ Saint, examined every 2-point shot and 3-point shot for every NBA team. Each shot was charted according to the location the shot was taken, and on a miss where the rebound went. The 2-point shot tracking did not include shots near the restricted area including layups, post ups and floaters.

The findings suggested that more than double the number of rebounds went to the nail area after a 3-point attempt was missed. The rebounds were fairly evenly distributed for 2-point attempts.

Rebound Outlet 2 Point Shots
Rebound Outlet 3 Point Shots

These findings stimulated some questions:

  • With the rise in 3-point attempts should we always get our point guard to the nail to rebound and to the outlet to the nail?
  • Does the data translate to other levels of basketball?

From experiential evidence I can tell you that after having applied this rebound outlet at nail concept for a full season that the concepts were advantageous, and seemed to translate. You will have to make your own conclusions, but I liked the idea of my point guard being in a more advantageous rebounding position when the shot went up.

Our point guard led us in rebounding, and we reduced the number of turnovers per possession over the course of the season. Attacking down the middle of the court also helped us better execute the Two Side Fast Break Concept.

Learn more about The Two Side Fast Break

Advantages of the Rebound Outlet Nail Concept

  • The outlet pass is eliminated as a ball handler and decision-maker immediately takes possession of the ball.
  • Defensive pressure is reduced as it is harder to quick trap when the ball is in the middle of the floor.
  • Fewer players are involved in the fast break is potentially faster and more concise.
  • The chances of a turnover are reduced in direct relation to the fewer passes used in a fast break.
  • The point guard at the nail rebounding and being an outlet usually has no box out responsibilities because the opposing team’s point guard is back in defensive transition.
  • Both sides of the floor are available when a shorter pass ahead advantage is available.
  • The rise of three-point attempts made it more likely that the number of long rebounds to the nail will increase.
  • Opposing teams usually send one or two of their guards back in transition, and the other three players traditionally rebound closer to the basket, thus creating an immediate advantage if a nail rebound is gathered.

Listen to the two Basketball Podcasts by Chris Oliver that cover rebounding as a topic, including the Rebound Outlet at the Nail Area Concept here:

The Basketball Podcast: EP35 TJ Saint

The Basketball Podcast: EP33 Zak Boisvert


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