Following Eric Musselman on Twitter, I came across this SI.com article on taking charges aptly titled Flopping 101. And of course this has been a popular topic all season in the NBA going back with Shaq and Stan Van Gundy, and now Van Gundy and Ben Wallace. As coaches, it is a common phrase heard on the bench but also in practices, "c'mon take the charge!" Or is it a flop?? Here are the 5 main points from the SI article:
1. Floppers cannot be stopped.
2. Big men shouldn't flop.
3. Europeans are superior floppers.
4. Flopping doesn't have to hurt.
5. Flopping is an art form.
Of the above, I agree with 2, 4, and 5.
Big Men shouldn't take charges (flop). Because there is a greater risk of injury for big men, 200+ pounds going hard to the floor. Small players are more agile and more likely to get into a good position to square up, take the contact in the chest, and fall down with less of a chance of injury as compared to a lumbering big man. Still, the risk of injury does remain.
Taking charges doesn't have to hurt and it is a practiced skill. If practiced properly, a player should be able to absorb the contact in the chest, and fall down gracefully on the backside.
A lot of times I hear this familiar question -- should you teach players how to take a charge? As an overall defensive philosophy, I myself am somewhat ambivalent on teaching players how to take charges. On the one hand, if you consider the end result of a taken charge: personal foul and team foul charged to the opponent, and change of possession. Very few plays in basketball can compare to that outcome that fall under the defenses' control. On the other hand, getting the charge call from the referees is highly contextual. Late in games, referees will more often than not opt for the no-call or even with a blocking foul -- this despite instances when the charge appears obvious. Depending on the level of play, there are more charging calls the higher up you play. So at the youth level, I rarely see a taken charge called, whereas in Varsity, College, and finally professional, you see it called more often.