What is a Hedge in Basketball? Definition & Meaning

In basketball, a “hedge” is a type of defensive strategy used in pick-and-roll situations.

When the offensive team sets a pick for the ball handler, the defender guarding the ball handler may use a hedge to prevent the ball handler from driving to the basket. To do this, the defender moves up to the level of the screen, effectively cutting off the ball handler’s path. The defender then tries to force the ball handler to change direction or make a pass, which can disrupt the offense’s flow and potentially lead to a turnover.

The term “hedge” is used because the defender is effectively hedging their bets between guarding the ball handler and guarding the screener. If done correctly, a hedge can be an effective way to slow down the offense and give the defender’s team an advantage.

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What Exactly Is a Hedge in Basketball?

To clarify, in basketball, a hedge is a defensive strategy used to defend against a pick-and-roll. In a pick-and-roll, one offensive player sets a screen (or pick) for another offensive player. The defender who is guarding the player with the ball (the ball handler) may use a hedge to help defend against the pick.

During a hedge, the defender guarding the ball handler will step out to try to disrupt the ball handler’s path, while still being able to quickly recover back to their original matchup. The defender will usually aim to show a “soft hedge,” meaning they won’t commit too far out, but just enough to force the ball handler to change their direction or give up the ball.

The goal of the hedge is to slow down the ball handler and give the defender’s teammates time to recover and get back into position on defense. A hedge is a common defensive strategy in basketball, especially at higher levels of competition.

Why is the hedge potentially effective in Basketball ?

The hedge is an effective defensive strategy in basketball because it can neutralize the effectiveness of the pick-and-roll by disrupting the ball handler’s path and taking away their ability to dribble penetrate or make a pass to the rolling screener.

When a defender hedges, they are essentially “showing” themselves to the ball handler, cutting off their path and forcing them to either pass or change direction. This can also disrupt the timing of the pick-and-roll between the screener and the screen receiver, which can make it more difficult for the offensive team to execute their play.

If executed properly, the hedge can be an effective way to slow down the opposing team’s offense and give the defending team an advantage. However, it’s important for defenders to be well-coordinated and communicate effectively to avoid leaving any gaps in the defense that the offense can exploit.

What is a Hedge in Basketball

How Do You Beat a Hard Hedge?

A hard hedge is a more aggressive type of hedge, where the defending player will come out hard to stop the ball handler and disrupt the pick-and-roll play. To beat a hard hedge in basketball, there are several things you can do:

  1. Split the hedge: One option is for the ball handler to split the hedge, by dribbling quickly between the defender and the screener. This requires good ball handling skills and quick reflexes, but can be an effective way to get past the defender and create a scoring opportunity.
  2. Use the roll: Another option is for the screener to “roll” towards the basket after setting the pick, instead of popping out for a jump shot. If the defender commits too much to the hard hedge, the screener can slip behind them and receive a pass for an easy basket.
  3. Pass out of the trap: The ball handler can also pass out of the hard hedge to a teammate who is open on the weak side of the court. This requires good court vision and passing skills, and can be an effective way to exploit the defense’s over-commitment.
  4. Pull up for a mid-range jumper: If the defense is playing too far out to contest a jump shot, the ball handler can pull up for a mid-range jumper instead of trying to get to the basket. This can be an effective way to keep the defense honest and force them to play more conservatively.

Overall, beating a hard hedge in basketball requires good decision-making, communication, and execution by the offensive team. By being aware of the defense’s strategy and using effective counter-plays, you can create scoring opportunities and exploit the defense’s weaknesses.

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

Hedging a pick-and-roll in basketball is a common defensive strategy that involves the defender guarding the ball handler (usually the point guard) stepping up to help defend against the pick. Here are some steps for how to properly hedge a pick-and-roll:

  1. Communication: Before the pick-and-roll occurs, it’s important for the defenders to communicate with each other to determine who will be hedging and who will be rotating to cover the screener’s roll. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no breakdowns in the defense.
  2. Footwork: As the ball handler approaches the screen, the defender guarding the ball handler should start to move up and over the top of the screen, getting into position to “show” themselves to the ball handler and prevent them from getting around the screen. It’s important to maintain good footwork and stay low to the ground, so as not to get off-balance and give the ball handler an opening.
  3. Hands up: While hedging, the defender should have their hands up and active to discourage the ball handler from attempting to pass the ball over them. This can also help disrupt the ball handler’s vision and make it more difficult for them to find a passing lane.
  4. Recovery: After hedging, the defender should quickly recover back to their original matchup, either by quickly getting back in front of the ball handler or by rotating to cover the screener’s roll. It’s important to maintain good positioning and not get caught out of position, as this can create openings for the offense to exploit.


What is the difference between soft and hard hedging in basketball?

Basketball is a fast-paced game that requires physicality and agility. A team’s defense is a crucial aspect of the game and one way to prevent the opposing team from scoring is through hedging. Hedging is a defensive tactic in which the defender helps the teammate who is guarding the ball handler.

Conclusion Hedge in Basketball

Hedging is an essential defensive strategy in basketball that can help teams prevent the opposing team from scoring. The two types of hedging, soft and hard, offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, and teams must use them strategically based on the game situation and the strengths of their players. While soft hedging focuses on maintaining the defensive shape and coverage of the team, hard hedging aims to disrupt the opposing team’s offense by aggressively pressuring the ball handler. Both techniques require communication, coordination, and quick decision-making by the defenders. By understanding the differences between soft and hard hedging, coaches and players can make informed decisions to improve their team’s defense and ultimately, win games.