Hedge in basketball

What is Hedge in Basketball? (Easy Guide)

Hedging in basketball is a defensive strategy where a defending player temporarily moves away from their assigned opponent to obstruct the ball handler. This strategic move aims to disrupt offensive plays, create turnovers, and buy time for teammates to reposition.

Another name for the hedge is the “hedge and recover” because once the screener’s defender has executed the first hedge move, they usually come back to the screener.

In addition, the screener’s defender will use the ball to temporarily display themselves to the screen receiver while limiting or impeding their planned dribbling destination; this strategy is also called the show hedge.

Types of Hedge in Basketball

Hard Hedge:

Imagine a charging bull – that’s the energy of a hard hedge. The defender aggressively shoots out toward the ball-handler, aiming to disrupt their initial burst and force them off course.

This is a high-risk, high-reward option. Done well, it can completely shut down the dribble drive, but mistiming it can leave the screener wide open for a roll or a popping jumper.

Soft Hedge:

Think of a stealthy ninja. The soft hedge involves a controlled step out to slow the ball handler and buy time for the on-ball defender to recover.

This is a safer option, minimizing the risk of giving up open lanes, but it also might not disrupt the play enough to contain the offense fully.

Ice Hedge:

Picture a cool cucumber. The ice hedge is about maintaining composure and staying glued to the screener. Defenders keep their feet flat and move laterally between the ball-handler and the screen.

This focuses on preventing open passing lanes and contesting potential shots from the ball-handler or the screener.

Trap Hedge:

This is a team effort, like a pack of wolves hunting. Two defenders converge on the ball-handler at the screen, one “trapping” them momentarily while the other recovers.

This can effectively force turnovers but requires precise timing and communication to avoid leaving open shooters or rebounders.

Show Hedge:

Think of a feint in fencing. The defender initially steps out as if to hedge hard, then quickly recovers back to their original matchup.

This aims to confuse the offense and disrupt their timing, potentially forcing them into a bad decision.

Choosing the Right Hedge:

The best hedge depends on the situation. Factors like the ball-handler’s speed, the screener’s type (shooter or roller), and the overall defensive scheme play a role.

Coaches mix and match different hedges throughout the game to keep the offence guessing.

Learn More: TOL in Basketball

Strengths and weaknesses of Hedge in basketball

Defensive CoverageContainment: Helps contain the ball handler and prevent easy drives to the basket.
Disruption: This can disrupt the offensive flow by pressuring the ball handler and passing lanes.
Vulnerability to Speed: Agile players may exploit the gap and quickly get past the hedge.
Communication: Requires effective communication among defenders to execute the hedge properly.
Ball Screen DefenseBall Pressure: Increases pressure on the ball handler during pick-and-roll situations.
Forces Decisions: Forces the ball handler to make quick decisions, potentially leading to turnovers.
Timing: Poorly timed hedges can lead to open shots or easy opportunities for the offense.
Overcommitment: Overcommitting to the hedge may leave the screener open for a roll or pop.
Help DefenseSupports Team Defense: Provides temporary help to the defender, allowing recovery time.
Versatility: Can be used against various offensive strategies, adapting to different situations.
Rotation Timing: Requires precise timing in defensive rotations to cover potential gaps.
Mismatch Possibility: Leaves the hedging defender briefly out of position, creating mismatches.
Recovery to AssignmentTiming: Poorly timed hedges can lead to open shots or easy opportunities for the offense.
Overcommitment: Overcommitting to the hedge may open the screener for a roll or pop.
Quick Recovery: Defenders can quickly recover to their assignments with proper footwork.
Limited Separation: Minimizes the separation between the ball handler and the defender’s assignment.

What is An Offensive Counter to The Hedge?

In the short roll, the screener doesn’t necessarily roll to the basket after establishing the screen; instead, they roll to a spot on the court, typically around the perimeter, as an offensive counter to the defensive hedge.

Once the ball is received, usually by a pocket pass, the short roller can score oneself or create scoring opportunities for their teammates.

The screener’s defender is typically too far away to recover in time for the short roll, making it an effective counter to the defensive hedge, especially the thorny hedge. The screener’s defender cannot recover in time for the short roll.

General Techniques To Execute The Hedge

In basketball, executing a hedge effectively requires timing, footwork, and defensive anticipation.

Technique 1:

The first technique is for the screener’s defender to see the screen before it occurs, call it out to the on-ball defender, and then quickly get above the screen in the case of a standard, hard hedge or parallel with the screen in the case of a soft hedge, just before or during the potential dribble penetration.

Technique 2:

The second way to execute the hedge is for the screener’s defender to move above or parallel to the screen and try to remain as close to the screener as possible.

Remember that a cunning player on the receiving end of an on-ball screen could take a couple of dribbles away from the basket to give in to the hedging motion.

But that’s only cunning on the part of the ball carrier; if the screener’s defender hedges too high or is too far away, the screener can easily split the defender’s defense and score.

Consequently, the defender of the screener should usually hedge while keeping their inside arm and leg next to the screener’s outer arm and leg to narrow the possible gap and hinder the capacity to split between them.

Technique 3:

The third way to implement the hedge is for the screener’s defender to take a correct defensive position and slide in front of the screen receiver’s intended dribbling route while staying as near to the screener as possible.

Because of this, the screener’s defender can pressure the offensive player who gets the on-ball screen.

Consequently, the offensive player in question is compelled to either reduce the pace of their dribble penetration or completely abandon it altogether, diverting it to a different area, typically further from the basket.

Technique 4:

The fourth way to implement the hedge is for the defender covering the screener to return to their original assignment or to another assignment altogether (such as an off-ball swap) after the hedge is executed.

Also, when the screener is recovering, the defender should keep their hands high and be active.

For starters, when the screener sets the screen and rolls to the basket or pops to the perimeter, the high and active hands make the player with the ball essentially throw a high arching lob pass over the screener’s defender to get the ball to the screener. This is why it’s crucial.


What are hedges in basketball?

Hedges in basketball are quick bursts of defense against ball screens, slowing ball handlers and disrupting pick-and-roll plays to force tougher choices. They’re like temporary fences, guiding attackers away from the basket and back into team defense.

What are hedges in basketball?

Hedges in basketball are temporary defensive steps where a player guarding the screener briefly “jumps out” to contest the ball-handler, disrupting pick-and-roll plays and slowing dribble penetration. Consider it a mini-wall to buy time for the on-ball defender to recover.

How do you hedge a pick in basketball?

A hedge in basketball involves the screener’s defender stepping out temporarily to slow the ball-handler, then recovering back to their original opponent. It disrupts the pick-and-roll and forces the offense to make a new decision.

What is hedging in NBA 2k?

Hedging in NBA 2K is a defensive tactic against screens, where your big temporarily steps out to challenge the ball handler, forcing them off course and disrupting the pick-and-roll play. Imagine a temporary wall to slow down the opponent’s drive or force a pass.


In conclusion, hedging is a crucial defensive weapon in basketball’s pick-and-roll arsenal. It disrupts offensive momentum, forces decisions, and opens up opportunities for recovery.

Mastering the art of the hedge can elevate your team’s defense and shut down even the most potent screen-and-roll attacks. Remember, hedging is a dance: step too far, and you leave openings; hesitate too long, and the play unfolds. Practice, trust your teammates, and unleash the defensive power of the hedge.

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