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The Hesi: Freezing Defenders with the Hesitation Move

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    Sports Tips

The Hesi: Freezing Defenders with the Hesitation Move

Basketball is a game of split-second decisions and creating space. One of the most effective weapons in a player's arsenal is the hesitation dribble, often referred to as "the hesi." This move isn't just a fancy trick; it's a strategic maneuver designed to throw off defenders and create scoring opportunities. Let's break down the hesi, its purpose, and how NBA star Kyrie Irving masterfully uses it.

What Is the Hesitation Dribble?

At its core, the hesitation dribble is a technique that involves a sudden pause or slowing down while dribbling, giving the illusion that the player might shoot or pass. This momentary pause causes the defender to hesitate, allowing the ball handler to either explode past them or create enough space for a jump shot.

The Mechanics of the Hesi

Understanding the basic mechanics is crucial for any player looking to add the hesi to their game:

  1. Change of Pace: Start with a quick dribble.
  2. Sell the Fake: Slow down dribbling and slightly raise your head and eyes as if preparing to shoot.
  3. Explode: Once the defender reacts or hesitates, burst past them with a sharp move.

Here's a quick reference table illustrating the mechanics:

StepActionKey Focus
1. Change of PaceStart quick dribbleMaintain control and speed
2. Sell the FakeSlow down, raise head and eyesConvince defender you're about to shoot
3. ExplodeBurst past the defenderQuick, decisive move

Kyrie Irving: The King of the Hesi

Kyrie Irving is renowned for his exceptional ball-handling skills and his masterful use of the hesitation dribble. Here’s how Kyrie leverages the hesi to create magic on the court:

  1. Unpredictability: Kyrie combines his hesitation dribble with a variety of other moves, making it nearly impossible for defenders to predict his next move.
  2. Tight Control: His impeccable ball control ensures that defenders can't swipe the ball away during the hesitation.
  3. Explosive First Step: After freezing the defender, Kyrie's quick first step allows him to blow by his man or create space for a jumper.

Coach's Corner: Training the Hesi

Implementing the hesitation dribble into your game requires practice and precision. Here are some coaching tips to perfect the move:

  1. Drill the Basics: Practice the change of pace dribble on its own. Focus on accelerating and decelerating smoothly.
  2. Sell the Fake: Work on head and eye movement to convincingly fake a shot. Use mirrors or video replay to ensure you’re selling the move.
  3. Combine Moves: Integrate the hesi with other dribbling techniques during practice to build familiarity and fluidity.


The hesitation dribble is a deceptively simple yet highly effective move when executed correctly. Players like Kyrie Irving show that mastery of this skill can turn a good player into an offensive juggernaut. By practicing the mechanics, selling the fake convincingly, and combining the hesi with other moves, any player can add this formidable weapon to their basketball toolkit.

Stay on the grind, keep pushing your limits, and watch defenders freeze in their tracks as you explode past them with a killer hesi!