Charging Foul In Basketball

Basketball Charging Foul

In basketball, charging is a foul that prevents ball carriers from charging into defenders. However, drawing a charging foul can also be used as a defensive weapon. Keep reading to learn how charging fouls work in basketball.

What Is a Basketball Charging Foul?

A charging foul in basketball is an offensive foul that is called when the attacking player with the ball charges into their defender in an uncontrolled manner. As a result, the defensive player may fall back or get knocked off balance. A charging foul is often referred to as a “charge” for short. Defenders often try to draw a charge by getting in a good position and baiting the offensive player into committing the violation.

Charging Foul vs. Blocking Foul 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 foulA charging foul means the offensive player is at fault and is called for a foul. A blocking foul is the opposite, and the defensive player is at fault.

There are several factors that go into deciding whether a call will be a charging foul. The three criteria that must be met to have a charging foul called are:

  1. The defender has their feet set and is not moving when contact occurs.
  2. The defender is not standing in the restricted area (under the basket).
  3. The defender does not create or initiate the contact.

If any of the three criteria above are not met, then the play is ruled a blocking foul on the defensive player.

Penalty Signal

To signal a charging foul has occurred, the referee will place one hand behind their head with the other pointing in the opposite direction of play. Charges can easily swing the momentum of a game at any time. It also is a way for smaller defenders to even the playing field against taller and stronger players.

Result of a Charging Foul

A charging foul always results in a personal foul for the offending player and a turnover. Whichever offensive player committed the foul has it tallied under their name in the scorebook, and after either five or six personal fouls (depending on the league’s rules), they foul out of the game. The team is also punished, as the play results in a turnover, and the defensive team gets possession of the ball.

Drawing a Charge

In modern basketball, it has become more and more common for defensive players to set themselves up to intentionally draw a charge. For example, it is common for players to stand around the basket and step into the lane of a driving player in order to draw contact. This has been heavily debated as a dirty play, as stepping into the lane of a running or jumping player presents a high risk for injury.


What is a charge in basketball?

A charge in basketball is a foul that occurs when an offensive player that is dribbling the ball in motion makes contact with a defensive player that has established a legal guarding position. A defensive player establishes a legal guarding position by having both feet on the ground and facing the offensive player inside the lower defensive box before the offensive player arrives. If the defender is in such a position when the offensive player walks or runs into them, a charge will be called and a turnover will result.

Can you force a charge in basketball?

It is possible to force a charge in basketball, although doing so requires timing, speed, and keen observation. According to the rules of the game, a charging foul can only occur if a defensive player beats an offensive player to a certain spot on the court and remains there long enough to set their feet and stay still while the offensive player contacts them. It can be very difficult to force a charge in this way, as defenders must have enough speed to intercept an offensive player but also not be too fast, as they may accidentally cause a blocking foul to be called on themselves if they cannot stand still in time.

When did the charging foul first originate in basketball?

Charging was first introduced as a foul in basketball during the NCAA basketball season of 1928-1929, 18 years before the creation of the NBA. The charging foul was created to prevent offensive players in basketball from deliberately making contact with a defender in a way that could cause injury.