Basketball Blocks And Charges

Basketball Blocks vs Charges

One of the most controversial and highly-debated calls in basketball is the determining if contact while driving to the basket was a block or charge. Read on to learn about both the block and charge fouls, as well as key differences to help you differentiate between the two.

Blocking Foul

A blocking foul is an illegal act that will be called on a defensive player who does not get into position in time prior to the dribbler moving in that direction.

The referee will use the dribbler's speed to determine how much space on the court the defensive player needed to make prior to setting up the screen. Blocking fouls result in free throws for the fouled player.

Charging Foul

A charge is called on the dribbler if he collides with a defensive player who has established a legal position on his way to the basket.

“Legal position” entails having the feet fully set and the torso in between the offensive player and the basket. The defending player cannot be in the act of shuffling or moving into position, as they must be set and still prior to the contact. This is the hardest real-time differentiation for referees to see when making the call.

Charges are huge momentum-builders for a team, as a charge is not only a turnover, but a foul on the offensive player. Defensive players will often “flop” to potentially draw a charging call, meaning they will overexaggerate the amount of contact they received when falling to the ground. The goal is to make the offensive player look guilty for committing a charge.

NBA Restricted Area

Basketball Restricted Area

The restricted area is a component of the court that defensive players are not allowed to stand in when taking a charge. If a player's feet are on or within the restricted line, a charge is automatically considered a blocking foul, even if the player was set.

How to Determine a Block or Charge in Basketball

When excessive or forceful contact happens between an offensive and defensive player, the referee is given two options. They can either call a charging foul or a blocking foul.

Several factors go into the deciding of what the call will be a charging foul, including:

  • Was the defender in a legal defensive position prior to the dribbler making contact, or were they moving?
  • Was the defender fully set when contact occurred?
  • If the defender was set when contact occurred, were they also in the restricted area when contact was made?

When looking for a block or charge, make sure the defender has their torso in front of the dribbler prior to the collision. The defender must also be in position before the dribbler is moving the ball toward the basket. If neither of these criteria are met, the foul will be for blocking. If the player was set and facing the dribbler, the next step is to see whether they were in the restricted area or not. If they were, the foul is for blocking. If not, it was a charge.

Blocking Foul Examples

  • If there is a tie and both players seem to be in the right.
  • A defensive player positions himself in the restricted area.
  • The dribbler is moving in the direction of the basket in a straight line at a high speed and has picked up their dribble before a defensive player is in position.

Charge Examples

  • The dribbler runs into a defensive player who has established a legal defensive position.
  • The dribbler does not dribble in a straight line towards the basket before running into a player.
  • The defender has both feet planted outside the restricted area prior to the dribbler moving in that direction.


What is the difference between a block and a charge in basketball?

The difference between a blocking and charging foul has to do with where the defender is positioned. If the defender is positioned directly in front of the offensive player with their feet planted outside of the restricted area when contact is made, it is a charging foul. If the defender is inside the restricted area or has not established a legal defensive position in front of the offensive player when contact is made, it is a blocking foul.