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The Art of the Charge - Winning the Possession Battle

Day 2 of the extra possession battle. Yesterday we covered the battle for 50/50 loose balls, which you can read here: Winning the 50/50 Battle. Today we will be discussing another way to get extra possessions. Forcing turnovers is clearly a key way to win the possession battle, however the benefits to taking a defensive charge expand past causing a turnover. We are also causing a foul to an opposing player (getting them closer to foul trouble) and adding a team foul for the quarter or half (getting us closer to the foul line).

If we can take a charge on a great offensive player even better. Get them in foul trouble and limit their minutes. No points have ever been scored while sitting on the bench.

Much like diving for a loose ball, taking a charge is seen as an act of toughness. And I would agree, it does take courage, sacrifice and toughness to purposefully take a direct hit from an offensive player. But there is much more to taking a charge than toughness.

The masters of charge taking have a tremendous amount of defensive awareness and game IQ. Within these categories there are 3 key areas of taking a charge; help side, low post and on the ball. Let’s break each of these down in more detail.

The help side charge is a staple for aggressively helping teams. Defensive schemes that want to rotate, meet players outside the paint and protect the basket. Defenders need to have a great level of awareness not only to anticipate and react to attacks but also to get into proper position to legally take the charge. The charge circle is a clear barrier to navigate as well as the timing element - we must secure legal guarding position before the offensive player takes off. If you are a team that values your help side, this is an easy pairing, and may even make sense to tell your on-ball defenders to ride the offensive player into the charge (instead of trying to recover fully). After all, out of control players are the key here.

The second scenario is the low post charge. This is one of my favorites although it involves the most flopping or selling of contact. Needless to say you need a mismatch situation to truly attempt this post charge to get the whistle on your side. However, in cases when a smaller player is defending a stronger bigger player in the low post, the positive outcomes appear bare. Unless we are trapping, this is not a good situation for our defense. But what we do know is 9 times out of 10 the low post player will start a post move by taking a power dribble and initiating contact. Luckily for our defender, he/she has established legal guarding position and is about to get one or even two free hits directly to the chest. The opportunity to take a charge on one of these hits is a clear solution to a dire situation.

Lastly we have the on-ball charge. Seen most evidently in the game of Scottie Pippen. This is a great charge technique for players proficient at the Cushion Slide, because this technique allows the defender to stay in legal guarding position while defending the ball. By moving back and laterally, the defender is entitled to their space, and if they can catch the attack with their chest - the opportunity for a charge is perfect.

Of course there are many other situations where an opportunity to take a charge is possible but these are common situations defenders will find themselves in time after time. Now we need to rely on our players to channel some toughness to take a charge. That being said, if we always act like charge taking is some worldly act of courage, our players may be less inclined to take them. Instead, we must battle to make this a habit, something we do naturally and instinctual. To do this, we as coaches need to build reputations of this act and make our players aware of how easily our bodies can handle this contact. We often don’t know what our bodies are capable of handling until we experience it.

Personally, taking a charge is something we do in our daily foot fire warmup - it ends the drill as everyone takes a charge, we blow the whistle and everyone brings it into the huddle with energy to start our first segment of practice. Another key is to over rep the charge early on in the season. This continuous charge drills is super simple and gets straight to the point - taking a charge is a habit and your body can handle this contact easily.

*Disclaimer - when introducing these types of toughness drills to your team, it is important to talk through and demonstrate the proper technique to prevent injury. For charges: use your butt for cushion, don’t break your fall with your wrist, the arms sweep the ground and help push you backwards, and most important, tuck the chin to chest to prevent head contact with ground.

Charges are a staple to a disciplined, relentless and tough defensive team. And the value of a charge can alter the game and help you win the possession and foul battle.

Want More:

To purchase the full Building a Culture of Toughness Clinic check out:

To watch full video of charge compilation including: ball screen, gaps, transition, out of bounds and game winning charges check out my tweet: The Art of Charge Tweet.

See you next time!

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