What is a Hedge in Basketball? Basketball 101

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Have you ever heard the word hedge being used in basketball? Do you know what is a hedge in basketball? We can almost guarantee over 50% of you do not know what a hedge is in basketball. A Hedge is a very useful defensive technique that is used by a lot of basketball teams.

In addition to providing you with information about a hedge, we are going to tell you how to improve your defense with this technique. We will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to hedge properly while playing basketball. We will also be providing you with all the information you need to know so that you can fully understand the concept of the hedge.

What Does Hedge Mean in BasketballWhat Does Hedge Mean in Basketball?

So, let’s get straight to the point. What does hedge mean in basketball? When you hear coaches and commentators talking about a hedge or a hard hedge, they are talking about pick-and-roll defense. Yes, a hedge is a defensive technique that is used against one of the most used offensive techniques in basketball, a pick-and-roll.

We are sure that you all agree that the pick-and-roll, the pic and slip, or the pick-and-pop are some of the most productive offensive plays in the basketball. There are so many ways that these plays can develop into scoring opportunities for any basketball team.

We are sure that you are excited as us, knowing that you are going to learn about attacking the pick-and-roll offense. So, how can we defend screens in basketball using the hedging technique?

The hedge or hard hedge, as most persons will call it, is a technique that the ball screen defender uses to prevent the ball handler from entering the lane. Besides stopping the ball-handler from entering the lane, a hedge can also cause turnovers, non-threatening passes, and also force the ball handler away from the rim.

To perform a hedge, the defender guarding the screen would stay connected to the screener, and at the moment the screen is set, he would step out from behind the screen directly into the path of the ball handler. Some coaches advise the hedger also to scream and shout at the ball handler to scare him into doing something silly with the ball. This is allowed in some leagues, but not all.

A significant thing to note is that this should not then turn into a switch. The hedge is used to avoid switching on the pick-and-roll. After the hedge has been set and the ball-handler retreats or changes direction, the hedger should try to recover to his mark or the closest unmarked player.

The hedger may need to pick up the closest unmarked player if his mark has already rolled away too far from the zone where the pic was set and as now being picked up by a help defender. The hedge is best used in certain conditions and not all.

Coaches should ensure that the players who performed the hedging technique are players that are versatile enough to recover back to their mark after completing the hedge. If you have a very slow player that cannot quickly hedge and recover, you shouldn’t ask this player to perform the technique. The hedge is not a perfect defensive tool, just like all other defensive techniques in basketball.

What Does Hedge Mean in Basketball

If the screener is a terrific shooter, then they will always pick and pop after the hedge to get an open shot. The hedge should be used when the screener is not necessarily a good shooter. If the hedge is being used against a screener that is a good shooter, the defender performing at the hedge shouldn’t follow the ball handler too far away from his mark.

This will allow the hedger enough time to recover and the contest any shot that the ball screener would take. Because a lot of good ball-handlers will pass the ball out of the hedge, the entire team needs to be on the same page before you hedge. This is a drill that must be practiced multiple times before being tried in a game.

As we said, and as you all know, the pic can provide a myriad of offensive options. Because the pic is so versatile, the defensive team must be willing to talk switch and help. For a team to efficiently hedge in basketball, two things are necessary, communication and practice.

How Do You Beat a Hard HedgeHow Do You Beat a Hard Hedge?

The hard hedge can easily create turnovers from errant passes and double teams. It is also very efficient in sending the ball handler back towards the half-court, which takes a lot of time off the clock, and most importantly, it prevents the offensive team from executing their planned offense.

Now that we have looked at the uses of the hard hedge, it’s time to analyze ways in which it can be beaten. The hard hedge is very efficient if performed correctly, so teams need to learn how to counter the hedge defense and still find ways to get points. We will now be taking a look at three very effective ways that the hedge can be attacked and beaten.

Screen the screener

The hedge will be coming from the screener’s defender. The best defender can only perform a good hedge if he stays with the to-be screener and waits for the screen to be set.

If the ball screeners defender is picked off before the screen is set, then he will not be in place to perform a hedge. The ball handler should have no issues going around the screen for an open shot or attack the lane.

Change the angle of the screen right before it is set

As we have discussed, for the hedge to be efficient, it needs to be set by stepping out into the path of the dribbler. It should be just when he is about to go around the screen.

If the screener changes the location of the screen at the last minute, the hedger will be out of place as he would be preparing it to hedge on the wrong side of the ball. The consequences will be dire for the defense. The ball handler will then be able to go around the screen uncontested.

Read the defense and then rescreen

Most teams scout their opponents before and during games. After a few pics are set, defenders will start to hedge the screen and attack the screen and roll to defend it. The offensive team can now read that the defense is performing hedges, and then determine how to play them.

A quick way to get a read on the defense is to do the same thing twice. In this case, we are talking about setting the pick twice, otherwise known as rescreening. Once the offense realizes that the defense is hedging, they can slip the screen after it is sent to get an open shot or an open drive to the rim.

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

Performing a hedge in basketball is not at all easy. The players must know exactly how to complete the hedge, and it is also extremely important that the entire team knows how to switch and help each other on offensive players.

What is the Proper Way to Hedge a Pick and Roll

When a player wants to hedge a screen, he needs to ensure that he stays connected to the screener before the screen is set so that he will be in place and on time to complete the hedge properly. When the screen is set, the hedger should still stay connected to the screen and the step directly into the path of the ball handler before he is allowed to take the screen.

This will prevent the ball handler from coming off the screen into an open shot or an open Lane. If the ball handler starts to reverse dribble towards the half-court, the hedger should stay with the ball handler until the ball handler’s original defender can recover.

Speaking of the original Defender, this person should try to go over or under the screen as quickly as possible so that they can recover soon. Once the original ball-handler gets back into position, the hedger needs to recover to his mark quickly, or the closest open player left open by the help defender.

How Do You Defend a Ball ScreenHow Do You Defend a Ball Screen?

There are multiple ways in which a ball screen can be defended. Some of these are more efficient than others, but they should all be used based on the persons being defended. Let’s look at a few of the ways that a ball screen can be defended.

A hedge or hard hedge

The hedge is the technique being discussed today. It involves the screener’s defender stepping into the path of the ball handler to force a change in direction or possibly a turnover.

Blitz double team the ball-handler

This technique involves the screener’s defender and the original ball defender performing a double team immediately after the screen is set. This is done to get steals. The difference between this and a hedge is that a hedge is focused on changing the ball handler’s direction. This technique focuses on the double team. 


This is one of the simplest and most commonly used defensive strategies against the pick-and-roll. It’s done by the two defenders in the play exchanging their marks.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Hedge in Basketball

Now you should be able to understand why the hedging technique is used, how to use the hedging technique, and on the flip side, how to beat the hedging technique. The hedge, if performed correctly, can be very efficient in defending the pick-and-roll.

If your team has not yet begun to practice this technique, speak to your coach and your teammates, and see if you can get more steals using this one. Until next time ballers, hedge out and clip those dribbles.

Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here

> What is a Defensive Three-Second Violation in Basketball?

> What is a Loose Ball Foul?

> What is an Illegal Screen in Basketball?

> What is Rebounding in Basketball?

> What is a Hand Checking Rule in the NBA?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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