What does it mean to Hedge in basketball?

What is a hedge in basketball? You probably do not understand the concept of a hedge in basketball. It is a defensive strategy, which most basketball teams use.

We will not only provide you with information about the hedge but also show you how to use this technique to improve your defense. In addition, we will provide comprehensive instructions on how to hedge when playing basketball efficiently. To fully comprehend hedges, we’ll provide constant updates on all aspects of hedges.

So, what does hedge mean when it comes to basketball? Whenever you hear a coach or a commentator refer to an ‘inside man’ defense, they are referring to a hard or tight hedge. Yes, a hedge serves as a defensive tool for opposing a pick-and-roll, one of the more common offensive approaches to basketball.

Everyone can agree that the pick-and-roll, the pick-and-slip, and the pick-and-pop are among the most efficient offensive moves in basketball. Each one of these plays can develop into a scoring opportunity for whichever basketball team utilizes it. 

We are sure you are just as excited as we are to learn how to defend the pick and roll offense. This is the reason why we will show you how to block screens in basketball using the hedging technique.

A hedge or hard hedge, as most of the time people call them, is a method used by the ball screen defender to stop the ball-handler from entering the lane; it can also cause turnovers, game-ending passes, and force the ball handler out of the lane.

Hedges are performed by the defender connected to the corner player on the screen who steps out directly into the ball carrier’s path as soon as the screen is in place. In some leagues, the hedger is instructed to yell and shout at the ball handler in order to scare him into doing something stupid with the ball; not all leagues allow this.

A crucial thing to note is that this cannot then turn into a switch. A hedge is implemented to avoid switching in the pick-and-roll. When the ball-handler retreats and the hedge is set, he must try to recover to his mark or the nearest unmarked player.

f the hedger’s mark has been lifted too far from the block zone and is now being picked up by a help defense, he may need to mark the closest unmarked player. The hedge is only useful in some cases.

The players who hedge need to be versatile enough to recover back to their mark after they have completed the hedge, so coaches must ensure they are. If you have a very slow player who cannot hedge and recover rapidly, you should not have this player utilize the hedging technique. The hedge is a good defensive tool, but it is not the best defensive tactic in basketball.

Shooters with good skills will always pick and pop through hedges to get a shot. But smaller players will still need to use the hedge when they’re not solid shooters. If a player regularly plays the offensive position and has the ability to shoot accurately, then the hedge needs to be used with extreme caution so as not to deviate too far from its mark.

This allows the hedge to recover and you have time to contest any shot that the ball screener would touch. A lot of exceptional ball handlers will pass the ball out of the hedge. Some of the world’s most gifted ball handlers will kick the ball out of the hedge.

We had said, as you all know, that the wing can provide many offensive options. Due to the wing’s versatility, defensive teams must be willing to verbally switch and help. To hedge effectively in basketball, communication and practice are paramount.

Hard hedges tend to create turnovers when the ball is thrown carelessly or twice by the opponent. They can also contain the ball handler towards the half-court which reduces the clock and, most importantly, contain the offense.

We looked at the uses of the hard hedge, so let’s examine the ways the hard hedge can be defeated. If the hard hedge is laid out correctly, it is very efficient, so teams need to learn how to counter it and still score.

Screen the screener

It is not necessary for the ball handler to commit to a hedge if the ball screeners’ defender has already been picked off before the screen is set. The ball handler may have no issue attacking the lane or going around the screen.

Change the angle of the screen right before it is set

We previously discussed that for the hedge to be effective, it should be set just as the dribbler is going to go around the screen.

As a result, the ball handler can go around the screen uncontested if the screener offers a sudden change in location at the last minute. The hedger will be preparing to hedge on the opposite side of the ball, suggesting dire consequences for the defense.

Read the defense and then rescreen

Scouting is one of the main things every team does before and during games. As defenders set up shots, screeners may end up swapping the screen location even at the last minute causing the hedger to hedge on the wrong side of the ball. The defense will face dire consequences as the ball handler will fly uncontested across the screen.

the defensive players start to hedge the shot and attack and defend the shot. The offensive team can then read the part where the defense is hedging and make a decision on how to play around it.

One way to quickly figure out the defense is to do the same thing twice. It’s known as rescreening, and if you know the defense will hedge, you can slip the pick after it’s sent to find an open look or drive straight to the rim.

What is the Proper Way to Hedge a Pick and Roll?

It is not easy to perform a hedge in basketball. The defense must know exactly how to complete a hedge, and the whole team needs to know how to switch and help each other with offensive players.

A player should ensure he/she hedges appropriately before setting a screen, ensuring that they are on time and in place to do so. When setting the screen, the ball handler must still be attached to the screen and should re-enter the ball handler’s path directly to take the screen.

This will help prevent the ball handler from leaving the screen and gaining an open shot or lane. Conversely, if the ball carrier reverses dribbles toward the half-court, the hedger should remain alongside the ball carrier until the defender can recover.

As for the original Defender, he or she should try to move over or beneath the screen as quickly as possible in order to recover quickly. When the original ball-handler returns to his core, the hedger must reach his target or remain within the reach of the help defender.

How do you defend a Ball Screen?

The Ball Screen can be defended in a number of different ways. Here are some strategies for defending a ball screen. Some of these are more effective than others, but all of them need to be used based on who needs to be protected.

A hedge or hard hedge

The hedging strategy is the one discussed today. It involves the defender being outside of the screener’s path to force the ball carrier to change direction or possibly force a turnover.

Blitz double team the ball-handler

This technique requires an extra ball defender to be placed alongside the original screener after the screen has been set up. It is done to get steals. This approach is different from a hedge, in that the hedge targets changing the direction of the ball handler. This approach targets double teams. 


This is one of the simplest and most common defensive strategies and is done by exchanging marks when two defenders are in the play.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Hedge in Basketball

The hedging technique may now be used to explain why and how to utilize it, as well as when to utilize it in reverse. If used properly, the hedge method can be very effective against the pick-and-roll.

If you and your team have not yet started practicing this technique, ask your coach and your teammates if you can get some steals using this one. The next time, ballers, stop the dribbles and hedge out.

Brian Roby

Brian was an American professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association from 1974 through 1995. A center, he was named the NBA Most Valuable Player three times, was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA Team selection.


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