Charge – the lost art!

5 Mar

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach at GWU


In basketball today there continues to be several aspects of the game that are overlooked but can play a big role in the course of a game.

The Charge is one of those aspects of the game that has become a lost art.  The Charge is a selfless act that often is not recognized as being a significant play to the fans, but let me tell you, as a coach it is a huge play!


I am writing this blog on the Charge, because I recently was watching a lot of tape of a very good St. Louis University team coached by Jim Crews in preparation for our game(March 2nd, 2013). It became very clear to me the more I watch tape what a high priority that they have placed on their players taking charges.


This is what I viewed on the  tapes:

1.  They celebrated  their teammates effort for  taking a charge by the other four players going over to pick him up off the ground and acknowledging the play with some form of  gesture.

2. The player who successfully took the charge punctuated the play with an out burst of emotion.

3. They took charges in several different situations:

* on the dribbler bringing the ball up the court

* on the dribbler as he is penetrating in the half court offense

* on the passer in a fast break situation after he had made a pass.

* on the post player as they tried to back the defender down.

4. They averaged 3-4 successful charges taken per game

5. I am certain that the staff keeps a stat on the number of charges taken and that there is some sort of positive reward attached to the accomplishment.


The charge  has just as much of a positive impact on the game as the blocked shot  or the steal. Here are some of the ways that the Charge impacts the game:

– It can change the momentum of the game. For example it can stop a teams run.

– It can play on a teams psyche. For example if a team is a driving team they may become less willing to drive after committing several charges

– It can get the opponent in foul trouble, thus getting a team closer to shooting free throws.


Here is why I think that the charge has become a lost art:

–  The charge requires there to be body to body contact which can hurt and therefore many players are not willing to take a charge.

– It is not glamorous.

– Coaches are not teaching their players the proper way to take a charge, running the risk of an injury.

–  The block/charge call is very difficult for officials to call.

–  Flopping is at an all time highand it has caught the attention of the coaches, officials, fans  and the national media.  This can make the charge appear to be a “sucker” play  instead of the impact play that it is.


The charge does not appear on highlights on the sports networks. In my research I found that the NCAA does not even keep stats on taking charges and the NBA does  keep a stat but it is often not published. The website .com does a great job of explaining every stat that they keep.  They  even have all  time NBA leaders in every category except  Charges taken.


The Charge  is a play that requires the player to sacrifice their body for the  team. Translation:”WINNING PLAY”.


3 Responses to “Charge – the lost art!”

  1. bfy123 March 6, 2013 at 2:12 PM #

    Thanks for bringing up the subject of one of the least glamorous parts of the game. As you pointed out: importance of taking charges is underestimated. And, as you pointed out: charges don’t show up in players’ stats. Hence, players have LESS INCENTIVE to take charges: 1) Taking a charge may be “painful” and 2) There’s little incentive for players to sacrifice their bodies because SUCCESSFUL charge is not included in the stats, but UNSUCCESSFUL attempt to take a charge results in a PERSONAL FOUL which does show up in stats etc.

    I’m simply curious if inclusion of that stat would increase players’ motivation/willingness to sacrifice their bodies. Again, as you noted in your post: some teams/coaches must have an internal “incentive/reward” system that does encourage charge-taking.

    Very interesting post.

    Jay Yurkiewicz
    Twitter: @JayYurkiewicz

  2. Functional Basketball Coaching March 8, 2013 at 11:30 PM #

    Hi Coaches,

    Interesting read.

    There are some real issues in being able to take a charge for players in lower levels of the sport of basketball. The biggest problems associated with the wrong call between a charge and block are at the lower level of competition. These competitions are the breeding grounds for players to develop their skills and without reward (actually getting a charge) then they will not continue to try and use the new skill.

    This is only compounded by the fact that teaching the art of technique of taking a charge (similar to block a shot) are going the way of the Dodo.


    Functional Basketball Coaching
    Twitter: @funbballcoach

    Like Us on Facebook!


  1. Basketball Coaching Digest March 7, 2013 | Justin T. EganJustin T. Egan - March 7, 2013

    […] Charge – the lost art! […]

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