What Is A Charge In Basketball? Rule Guide

Many rules in basketball will depend on the level of play and the league they play in. For instance, the rules in the NBA may differ from those of FIBA, and so on. But some rules are applied in every league -one of those is the charge.

So, what is a charge in basketball?

According to the rulebook, a charge is an offensive foul committed by the dribbler after charging into or bumping a defending player who has already set himself in a legal guarding position. The penalty will be a personal foul and a turnover.

Now, let us take a deeper take on what a charge is in basketball, how to avoid it, and how to use it if you’re the defender.

What is a Charge in Basketball?

Charge calls in basketball can be game-changers and change the game’s momentum. It is also one of the hustle plays which doesn’t readily appear in the box score.

In basketball, a charge is an offensive foul committed by the attacking player. If the dribbler charges or forces his way through a defender who has already gained a legal defensive position, it is a charge. So timing is crucial for dribblers to avoid getting called with a charging call.

The dribbler needs to have total control of his body to avoid players who are baiting them to make illegal contact and be called with a charge.

Suppose a defender has already established his position and cutting the straight path to the basket, waiting to draw a charge. In that case, the offensive player must try to avoid contact, or he can pick up his dribble.

What is Taking a Charge in Basketball?

Some defensive players specialize in taking a charge. This means they quickly move into a position and hold their ground while waiting for the dribbler to charge into him. This sequence usually takes less than a second and can be subject to an officiating official’s call.

Taking charge is also physically demanding. Players who take charge must sacrifice their bodies to take the offensive player’s hit to their body and fall to the floor.

However, it is also common knowledge that some players would ‘flop’ or react exaggeratedly so that they will be favored with a call.

Is it Possible to get Called with a Charging Without the Ball?

Though the charging foul is commonly called against dribblers who charge or force their way through a defensive player, it is still possible to get called charging without the ball.

For instance, if an offensive player is moving toward the basket and can no longer stop his momentum from clashing with a defender, he decides to pass the ball to a teammate. Even if the ball is not in his hands, he will still get a charging violation.

What is the Restricted or No-Charge Semicircle Area?

The restricted area in NBA, also known as the no-charge semicircle area in FIBA, is a semicircle drawn in the paint just below the rim. This has been added to the playing court to help officials interpret charge/block situations near the basket.

Players trying to take a charging call must also know where their feet are set at all times to avoid getting called a blocking foul.

What is the Penalty for a Charging Foul?

When a charging foul is called to the dribbler, he will receive an offensive foul. The foul will add to his current personal foul counts without an additional team foul.

In addition, the ball will change possession. It will be taken on the nearest sideline of the violation but now closer to the baseline.

What is the Difference Between a Charge and a Block in Basketball?

The main difference between a charge and a block is the timing of getting into the proper position.

As we learned earlier, a charge is a personal foul made by an offensive player by charging into a defensive player who has already established a legal guarding position. So, if the defender is late to take his hold his ground, it will be a blocking foul.

The players who maintained a proper position but stepped or were inside the restricted area underneath the basket will not draw a charging foul from the offensive player. Instead, they will receive a blocking foul.

What is the Signal for a Charge in Basketball?

A charging foul is called during the game. So to identify if the violation is a charge, the referee will place one hand on the back of the head and point to the opposite direction of the play, indicating a change in possession of the ball.

Some referees would show a closed fist punching in the direction of the possession of the ball to indicate that an offensive foul happened.

Effective Tips to get a Clean Charge in Basketball

1. Vision for where the ball is

An important step when taking charge is knowing where the offensive player is going. The defensive player must find where the ball is, so positioning to take charge will be quick.

2. Anticipation to take charge

For high-level basketball, the ball can move quickly that it is difficult to find which direction the ballhandler is going, so proper anticipation will be necessary.

3. Courage to take the hit

Taking charge straight to the body is physically tolling and hurts. Imagine a 284-lbs Zion Williamson is moving directly in your direction, and your task is to sacrifice your body to take the hit. That will bring a lot of courage to think of standing in front of a large moving mass of muscle.

4. Must know your position

Proper positioning is crucial when taking charge. Since most of the charging fouls happen closer to the rim, you must be aware if you’re close to the restricted area so that you will avoid getting called with a blocking foul instead of a charge.

It is also essential to beat the offensive player to the spot and set your body correctly to avoid getting called a blocking foul.

Best NBA Players at Drawing Charging Fouls

In the past, drawing charges are entirely invisible in the boxscore. However, due to the popularity of advanced stats, the NBA incorporated another stat to measure hustle, including the charges drawn throughout the season.

Drawing charges have also been incorporated in popular news recently, and it takes a team effort to ensure that the paint is protected against drives. In 2022, the Miami Heat recorded 111 total charges drawn, or 1.35, per game.

Here are some of the best NBA players at drawing charges.

1. DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins may be a shell of his previous all-star self, but he still holds the record of most charges drawn in the NBA since 2010. During most of his career as a prototypical NBA big man, he never shied away from sacrificing his body by taking charges straight to his chest.

2. Kyle Lowry

Lowry is a champion and was an all-star point guard during his tenure with the Toronto Raptors. Though he’s expected to perform on the offensive side of the floor, he still made sure to be a leader on the defensive end.

Despite lacking in height, only listed at 6’0″, he made up for it with his heart to win. He is currently second to Cousins with the most charges drawn since 2010. In 2022, at age 36, he still managed to draw the second-highest charges in the season.

3. Alex Caruso

Alex Caruso is a point guard like Lowry. However, he is also unafraid of absorbing contacts and drawing charges from opposing players. In the 2022 NBA Playoffs, he made a huge charge on Giannis Antetokounmpo late in Game 2 of the first round.

4. Blake Griffin

You may remember Blake Griffin as the high-flying power forward from the Clippers Lob City Era, but that season of his career is long gone. He is now a role player in the hapless Brooklyn Nets Team.

While he may not be the same explosive player as he was, he still made some adjustments to his game to contribute in any way possible. In the 2021-22 Season, he led the league with 26 charges drawn in just 56 games.

5. Kevin Love

Like Griffin, Kevin Love is also a past all-star, with a career continuously slowing down. He remained with the Cleveland Cavaliers even after LeBron James left the team and has guided the young core to potential future success.

He has continuously shown value in his game by giving up his body to draw charges. During the 2021-22 Season, he is tied with Griffin with 26 charges drawn in 74 games.


Charging fouls or charges is an important aspect of basketball, especially in the NBA. While it is a negative stat for offensive players, it has been a defender’s highlight.

It has even been awarded its advanced stat number to celebrate the contribution of players who are not afraid to hold their ground and take a hit in the chest to force a turnover.

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