Blog Entry

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

Posted on: January 31, 2010 2:42 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2010 3:32 am

Here is the NBA's description of the Block/Charge rule:

A block/charge foul occurs when a defender tries to get in front of his man to stop him from going in that direction. If he does not get into a legal defensive position and contact occurs, it is a blocking foul. If he gets to a legal position and the offensive player runs into him it is an offensive foul. In both situations, if the contact is minimal, no foul may be called. To get into a legal position defending against the dribbler, the defender just needs to get in front of him. On a drive to the basket, the defender must get to his position before the shooter starts his upward shooting motion. For most other cases, the defender must get into position and allow enough distance for the offensive player to stop and/or change direction.

I'm watching an NBA game right now between the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets. There is no team in the NBA more skilled at forcing an opposing team into a "Charging" call than the Spurs. But I take issue with this rule.

The rule should be eliminated for several of reasons:

First, it seems like an unnatural act, as a defender, to plant himself in between the basket and the offensive player who owns possession of the ball. He is not moving his feet, but is planting them. It's what my middle high school coach used to refer to as matador defense. The defensive player is not defending the offensive player, but is in fact looking to force the offensive player into a penalty by creating contact with him. Basketball is suppose to be a non-contact sport, but yet the philosophy behind a charge is to unnaturally instigate contact.

Often times, it seems as if the offensive player isn't looking to create contact. In fact, he's looking to avoid contact by either moving slightly to the left or right of the defender. Typically, the defender will slightly adjust his position to what is described above as a "legal position" in order to force the penalty. I just disagree with the philosophy. I think it's unnatural and it slows down the pace of the game.

Second, there is inconsistency with the Offensive Charge call.

One example of this is when an offensive player takes a jump shot or drives to the basket for a lay-up attempt. Often times, a defender will wedge his way underneath an offensive player after the player has jumped. More often than not, in my experience, the penalty will be called on the offensive player. According to the rules above, the defensive player has to establish a legal position prior to the offensive player taking flight in theory, but the call is inconsistent in practice.

Another example is when an offensive player receives a pass in transition and then runs into a defender. The offensive player will be called for the penalty, but I don't think it's fair because he doesn't have enough time to adjust his dribble in reaction to the defender. Sometimes, the offensive player is oblivious because he's not even looking ahead, he's looking behind. I guess the offensive player, in theory, needs to be aware of where all the defenders are on the court, but the cards are stacked against him when he's looking to catch a pass and establish his dribble, while also attempting to adjust his body to the defender.

Third, the "Charging" call promotes cheating. European and South American players have perfected the flop and now it has clearly become a common strategy in the NBA and College Basketball. The flop is when a defender has attempted to establish a legal position but then flails his arms and overaccentuates contact between the offensive player and himself. This one frustrates me to no end.

My solution is that if an offensive player is clearly trying to create an advantage for himself by running over or into a defender, a penalty should be called on him. But if the offensive player is clearly attempting to avoid contact, a penalty shouldn't be called, regardless of whether the defender has established legal position. I firmly believe it would improve the flow of the game, keep the action moving along naturally, and ensure integrety in the rules of the game.

Category: NBA

Since: Oct 23, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2010 11:55 am

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

Thanks for your comments.
I would like to point out that when the rules require a defender to be in position, there is no requirement on any level of basketball for him to "plant" his feet.  He can retreat and still be in proper defensive position.

As far as a defender moving under a shooter who has already jumped, my perception is that the defender almost always is called for a blocking foul - especially in the NBA.  I was attending a local college game recently when a guy from the home team undercut an opponent who was making a layup.  The defender was charged for the foul and the crowd booed.

I agree that the guys who flop are irritating.

Since: Nov 3, 2008
Posted on: February 15, 2010 3:23 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Feb 11, 2010
Posted on: February 14, 2010 3:56 am

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

Basketball sucks. It is a useless sport !!!! NFL football and MLB baaseball are the only sports that matter!!!!

Since: Aug 10, 2006
Posted on: February 10, 2010 9:09 pm

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

As a player is driving to the basket, under my rule change, the defender would have train himself to move his feet and force the offensive player to change directions more often.Let me further explain this point: As a player is driving to the basket, under my rule change, the defender would have to train himself to move his feet and force the offensive player to change directions more often. In achieving this, the defender would not be planting his feet, but would be beating the offensive player to the spot on the court the offensive player is attempting to dribble to. The defender, if skilled enough, can force the offensive player to switch directions frequently.

Since: Aug 10, 2006
Posted on: February 10, 2010 8:57 pm

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

I respectfully disagree with you when you say the game of basketball would be "pointless" without the block/charge call. I do agree with you that my rule change would lead to more penetration shots, which isn't a bad thing.

As a player is driving to the basket, under my rule change, the defender would have train himself to move his feet and force the offensive player to change directions more often. This could lead to more turnovers. Additionally, the block shot would play a more important role in my rule change.  For instance, pinning a ball against the backboard is something Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have become very skilled at. I envision it being a more important defense weapon.

I disagree with your assertion that the jump shot would be rendered null and void. I believe, under my rule change, the the jump shot will still play an important role, particularly as a player drives and forces defenders to converge on him, he could pass the ball out to a teammate on the perimeter, who would likely have a wide-open shot.

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2010 2:41 pm


How pointless would the game be without the block and charge calls...?  Offensive players would never stop driving to the hoop and the jump shot would become irrelevant if not nonexistant because all they have to do is try to avoid contact and they wouldn't get called for a foul under your rule.  Defensive players meanwhile, if not called for blocks, would intentionally bump offensive players driving the lane or even run into dribblers...afterall that is a blocking foul.  In most block/charge foul calls significant contact is made that alters the shot; therefore, you need a standard that decides who is more at fault.  This is what basketball has come up with, and I have not seen or heard any better solutions.  Simply basing it off whether or not someone tried to do this or that is far to subjective, way more so than the current rule that already gets people like you upset so much.  Imagine all the screaming people will do when an official says, "well I think he tried to move so the basket is over".  What are the opposing fans going to do?  They are going to scream for a rule change...that's what.  It's easy to find fault in something but sports are never precise and aren't supposed to be.  The goal should be to make the rules as objective as possible so the officials decisions can be based on something concrete.  I don't feel your solution does this.

Since: Aug 10, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2010 3:34 am

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

I certainly respect your point of view and enjoyed your comment, but I stand by my belief that the rule is fundamentally flawed.

Since: Feb 27, 2009
Posted on: February 4, 2010 12:07 am

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

There is soo much you have to watch for in the block/charge in a short amount of span.  Not only good defensive position (coaches and announcers will always point out if a player has good defensive feet) but the actions of the offensive player.   The elbows, arms, chest, head, shoulders, knees all come into play also.  If the offensive player makes a non basketball or contorts their body to gain advantage, its the offensive foul.  Of course where the player is (restricted circle) plays into that. 

Good defensive teams practice and execute taking charges very well.   The spirit of the rule is a good sound one.  If the defender is in good defensive position, the offensive player shouldn't be able to gain competitive advantage over them just because they have the ball.   But teams do exploit that. 

There are other rules I'd like to see abolished.  But specifically as it applies to block/charges, the restricted circle is one that really could go.   Let the defenders defend the basket (and get rid of the defensive three seconds).  

You may not agree with this, but a majority of these block/charges are called correctly.   The key is to watch the defenders and as fans that is difficult if not mundane to do.

But overall, yes there are rules that could be redone to clean this up.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or