If you clicked on this article, I assume you want to learn the hesitation move – a basketball move that leaves defenders in the dust!
The goal of the hesitation move is to get defenders to temporarily rise up out of their defensive stance, giving you an extra second to dribble past your defender on your way to the basket.
And when the defenders get off their feet, the crowd will get off their feet as well!
Your hesi will not only earn you a trip to the basket but it might also earn you a viral clip on social media!
But how do you execute the hesitation move?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to instantly add the hesitation move to your dribbling arsenal…
Step 1 – See The Open Lane
First and foremost, be in a triple-threat position while making the hesitation move. Being in a triple-threat position means you are in a position to either pass the ball to an open shooter, attack the basket, or shoot the ball off the dribble.
Obviously, the hesitation move is most effective when the dribbler has all three of these options available. The more of a threat you are to make a jump shot off the dribble, the more effective the hesi will become.
Do you want to know who uses the hesitation move to great effect?
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. Curry has one of the best hesitation moves in the NBA today because defenders have to respect his jump shot.
Curry always positions himself where he can create an open lane to the basket with his hesitation move. He normally starts by dribbling on the left side and then goes towards the middle with his strong hand.
That way, Curry always has a straight path to a right-handed layup when his hesitation move freezes the defender at the top of the key.
Step 2 – Get The Ball Into The Dribble Pocket
Now you have the lane to the basket in sight, it is time to change the defender’s eye level.
How do you do this?
You pretend like you are about to shoot the ball! You just raise your dribble higher than normal.
The key is to establish eye contact with the defender. If your eyes go up as you get into your dribble pocket, your defender will naturally rise up to match your eye level.
This gives you a split-second advantage to get by your defender!
Something to be careful about: keep your dribble below your waist and place the ball between your dribbling hand and the floor. Otherwise, the referee will most likely call a carrying violation on you.
Step 3 – Align Your Feet To The Basket
By getting the ball into your dribble pocket, you have successfully convinced the defender that you are going up for a shot. You are now a step ahead of the defender.
You MUST align your feet the right way if you are to take advantage of this extra step.
There are two ways you can align your feet out of the hesitation move.
- Stationary – feet are aligned towards defender (use this to set up the crossover)
- On the Move – lead foot is pointed towards basket (use this to set up the in-n-out dribble)
My advice would be to experiment with aligning your feet both ways, then stick to what works best for you. Your footwork will eventually develop over countless repetitions to where it will be second nature to you.
Step 4 – Fan The Ball With Your Off Hand
Fanning the ball is defined as raising your off hand as you get into your dribbling pocket. It will look as if you are mimicking your shot motion just as you are making the hesitation move.
The goal of fanning the ball is twofold: 1) to keep the ball away from the defender’s hands; 2) to convince the defender that you are going up for a shot.
The key is to move your off-hand directly in the defender’s line of sight.
Good defenders will look at the torso region. If you can alter the defender’s line of sight, then will change the defender’s eye level.
To do this, place your off hand parallel to the ball just as you rise up for the hesitation move. It will look like your off-hand is a guide hand for when you shoot the ball.
Step 5 – Set Your Eyes On The Rim
Surely, you have heard this before from your coach.
“Look up while dribbling! Don’t look on the floor!”
Let me take it a step further from your coach: always look at the basket while dribbling.
Again, to sell the hesitation move, you have to convince the defender that you are going to shoot the ball. Having your eyes on the rim means you are a threat to shoot the ball.
Step 6 – Make An Explosive Direct Step
You just made a nice hesi! You are now one step ahead on the defender!
Now it’s time to make an explosive direct step to get to the basket!
Take one hard dribble to the free-throw line area. You will then be in an ideal triple-threat position: you can either attack the basket, take the short jump shot, or pass to an open teammate.
All three of these options are great!
But what if the defender catches up to you?
Step 7 – Get Low With Shoulder (To Defender’s Hip)
Once past the defender, you should get as low as possible in order to setup the final move.
A rule of thumb is to dip your off arm lower than the defender’s lead hip, which automatically puts you a step ahead of the defender.
Think of it as a race to the free-throw line between your off shoulder and the defender’s hip.
When you win that race, you are in control of what happens next. Dipping your shoulder also helps you make the next move.
If you pull up for a jumper, you’ll need to start from a lower stance to generate power for the jump shot.
If you attack the basket, getting low will give you the power to finish strong.
If you pass the ball to an open teammate, staying low gives you more power if the ball is going all the way to a shooter at the three-point line.
Most of the time, a straight line hesi is going to work. But what happens when it does not work?
Here is why a crossover is the perfect countermove to the hesitation move.
How to Do a Crossover Hesi
The logical countermove to a straight-line hesitation move is a crossover. When the defender is thinking you will go straight, crossing over will give you an extra step past the defender.
But how do you execute the crossover of a hesitation move?
Check out this video below!
Here are three scenarios in which a crossover off a hesitation dribble would be most effective.
Scenario #1 – Hesi in Transition
When pushing the ball in transition, you will have your defender backpedaling to stop the ball. Your defender will sprint back to cut off your straight line to the basket.
A hesitation move followed up by a crossover is the immediate answer to the defender stopping the ball.
You take the exact same steps as you would a normal hesitation move.
The defender will not be able to change directions fast enough to stay in front of you!
You would just crossover instead of going in a straight line.
Scenario #2 – Retreat (Or Step-Back) Hesi
Using a retreat dribble is most effective whenever you are being pressured with the ball, but it can also setup your hesitation move.
When using this to setup the hesi, it will get you past any defender who is too close to you – since you can go forward faster than most defenders can go backwards.
As you make the retreat dribble, stop on a dime and take one step back. Drop your hips and shoulders to protect the ball, then power off your back leg to move past the defender.
Once you gain experience with this move, you will know how to time the move so you can get past the defender each time.
Scenario #3 – Lateral (Or Sidestep) Hesi
The lateral dribble is a sidestep hesitation move intended to set up a baseline or sideline drive to the basket. You want to start 1-2 steps to the side of where you want to attack the basket.
The lateral hesitation dribble is comparable to the retreat hesi in that this move is intended to get the defender closer to you, except you take a sidestep dribble instead of taking a step-back dribble.
To execute this move effectively, get into your dribble pocket as soon as you are taking the sidestep. It should all be in one quick motion like you are taking a sidestep jump shot.
Make sure you land on the balls of your feet so you can immediately attack the basket in a straight line.
FREE Hesi Drills & Workout Plan
If you want to get better and master the hesitation move, I have put together a workout that has all the drills and all the things that you need to know to get better at this. If you want that click the link below to get the free hesi move drills and workout plan.
Ultimately, the hesitation move is intended to make the defender hesitate!
The speed of the game increases as the level of competition improves. So if you learn to change speeds with the hesi, you will always have an advantage over your defender.
By following these seven steps, you will not only juke out your defender but you will also get a great shot for you or your teammate!