Introducing: The Charge

A foul most common


| 2 min read

Officially, a charge is an offensive foul that happens when a player runs into a stationary defender who has established a legal guarding position. Charging can happen with or without a ball, when dribbling or when shooting. 

The flip side of a charging foul is a blocking foul. That’s when the defender isn’t in legal guarding position, or if they initiate contact first.

A defender establishes a “legal guarding position” when they:

  1. have both feet on the floor, and
  2. are facing their opponent (feet and torso)

To avoid a charging foul, players with the ball need to look ahead when dribbling and either pass or dribble around defensive players who are in a legal guarding position.

The particulars

One myth about charging fouls is that the defender must be standing still. Not true! Once the defender has established legal guarding position, they can move sideways or backward, and any contact they take on the torso remains legal.

However… if a defensive player makes contact while moving forward toward the dribbler, or with their hips rather than their torso, it will commonly result in a blocking foul.

An exception is when the offensive player uses excessive contact (including shoulders, elbows). In that case, a charging foul may be called even if the defense’s position is not 100% perfect. 

If the contact is minimal and doesn’t substantially impact the play, experienced referees may choose to call neither a block nor a charge, commonly referred to as a “no-call”.

The cure for charging

At the end of the day, charging fouls reward players for having good defensive technique and habits. They are also important to avoid reckless or unnecessary contact that could lead to injury — and because they can easily change the momentum of a game.

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