When I watch a basketball game, I see many players often draw a foul by driving to the basket. Sometimes, the offensive player (ball handler) gets an offensive foul because the defender takes a charge. How do you do that?

  • Are you asking how to take a charge, or what the rule is that determines whether a charge is called versus a block?
    – Joe
    Mar 30, 2015 at 14:09
  • Thanks for your question. I asking how to take a charge. And will be great if the answer explain me with rules. Mar 31, 2015 at 1:35
  • In my opinion the charge/block situation in basketball has put a major black eye on the game. First you have players setting themselves for charges after a player has stopped their dribble and is on a path to the basket. Complete crap. On the other side I see players just standing there and getting called for a foul because they twitched when an out of control player ran them over. In my opinion the first case is a no call and the second is a player control foul not a charge.
    – Coach-D
    Apr 7, 2015 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


The keys to taking a charge are anticipation, speed, and attention to detail.

Anticipation refers to knowing where the ball is and knowing where the players are moving to, before they do. In order to take a charge, you have to get to where the offensive player is going a little bit ahead of him in order to plant yourself (two feet, square body) before he gets there. You can't take a charge if you're not there first, after all.

You also need to anticipate the right point to take the charge: where is the offensive player going to be the most out of control, and thus least able to avoid you. That could be as he goes for a layup and is going to elevate, it could be as he is turning blindly, it could be as he avoids weakside help.

Speed is also necessary. You have to be quick to get to that spot on the floor- if you take a long time to get there, the offensive player will see you and avoid you.

Finally, attention to detail is necessary to plant yourself properly and take the charge, and not get called for a defensive blocking foul. Refs tend to call blocking when it's questionable, so the best players at taking a charge do so in an exaggerated manner (not a flop, but they plant themselves very carefully).

They also do that because it helps them avoid the pain from taking the charge - you have a 200 pound person (+/- 50 pounds) barreling into you at speed, that is going to hurt. Carefully planting yourself so that your chest takes the shoulder of the offensive player, and then falling in such a way that you take most of the contact with the floor on your buttocks rather than on your back or arm is important to avoiding injury and too much bruising.

Shane Battier, one of the greats at taking charges, has a Youtube Video that some of this comes from, and he shows you nicely how to take a charge, as well as live pictures of himself and some other greats taking charges in real games.

You can also read the NBA Block/Charge rulings which explain what is supposed to be called one versus the other. Knowing these rules and associated rulings are important, because what you're allowed to do as a defender varies by location on the floor and what the offensive player is doing.

  • I won't go up or down on this answer but I find one statement funny and it seems to be repeated by average basketball fans... You are always where you are before your opponent. There is no concept that you own the space you are in because you were there first. There are very specific rules that refs abide by on calling charges and blocks and player control fouls and it slightly differs between high school, college, NBA (I have reffed the first two). I love when a player says I was there first. Who else would be were you are?
    – Coach-D
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:05
  • Getting "there" first in this instance means getting to the location the collision occurs prior to the collision occurring. Yes, you're always where YOU are, but if you're trying to take a charge, you need to plan to be where the offensive player will be, before he/she gets there, regardless of the specifics of the foul at that level. If you're still moving, then you're (the defender) getting called for the foul.
    – Joe
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:23
  • OK you will always will be where the offensive player is going to be before he is or you blatantly pushed him out of the way. That goes back to exactly what I said. You are always where you are. This has nothing to do with charging calls and in referee clinics this is one of the first myths dispelled.
    – Coach-D
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:46
  • (shrug) Then perhaps you should write your own answer? My point isn't that you should be 'wherever you are' first, it's that you should plan for where the collision will take place, and get there significantly before that collision. This doesn't seem like rocket science...
    – Joe
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:50
  • There isn't any sort of documentation that will show up unless someone scanned a referee training guide that will go over the scenarios - the rulebook leaves everything up for interpretation. The biggest part of taking a charge vs a block is could a player in control steer clear of the set player before they hit them. I don't really care to leave answers on this site that have vague rules because quite frankly the voting on this site is a joke for pretty much every sport besides soccer and cricket.
    – Coach-D
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:58

“Taking a charge” is an often overlooked skill in basketball. This is due to the fact that in order to be good at it, the player must seek out physical contact by giving up his/her body. In its simplest form, a charge occurs when a defensive player is in a “set” defensive position and the offensive player causes contact to the defensive player’s torso. Often, you’ll hear that the defensive player “owned” the spot on the floor, therefore, the offensive player must try to avoid contact. a "set" position, or, good defensive position can be defined as:

  • The defender was still, or moving sideways or backward but not forward, when contact occurred.
  • The defender took a legal guarding position before the contact, that is, one with both feet on the floor.
  • The defender was hit on the torso (as opposed to the arm or leg).

To be good at taking charges, you must be quick by playing defense with your feet and not your hands. Beating the offensive player to the “spot” is the most effective way of taking a charge

  • 1
    A reference to the rules as to how a "set" position is defined would be great here.
    – Philip Kendall
    Mar 30, 2015 at 13:57
  • @PhilipKendall The link I provided gives some info. Is it not enough?
    – rrirower
    Mar 30, 2015 at 14:01
  • 1
    We prefer answers to be self-contained. External links have a nasty habit of going dead.
    – Philip Kendall
    Mar 30, 2015 at 14:03
  • It's unclear to me if the question is asking how to establish yourself to take a charge, or if it's asking why a block or a charge is called. If it's just the former I think the link is fine; if he's asking the latter then you're right, it should be in the answer. I'll also edit my answer in more detail if the comment in the OP is resolved that way. The way the question was originally titled implied the former to me.
    – Joe
    Mar 30, 2015 at 14:10

There is no 'being set' or a 'set position' listed in the rulebook (high school). The defensive player needs to establish a legal guarding position at some point; This means facing the ball handler, with two feet on the ground. [This two feet on the ground may be what some people refer to as being 'set', but a defender does not need to be 'set' at the point of contact.] After legal guarding position is established, the defender can move sideways, backwards, and diagonally backwards. If the defender moves toward the dribbler OR if the defender touches the dribbler with arms or hands, that can be a foul on the defender. Otherwise, it is the dribbler's responsibility to avoid the defender's torso after legal guarding position is established. The defender has not yet established legal guarding position if the dribbler is already taking flight for a layup, shot or dunk. The defender must have established that legal guarding position in enough time for the dribbler to avoid the contact. When taking a charge the defender may twist or turn away if they think they will be taking a hard charge and this does not negate the charge foul.

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