Hands down, their is no other rule in basketball more misunderstood than understanding position and what constitutes a charge or a blocking foul.
All too often you will hear people say that a player's feet were not "set" therefore it is not a charge but a blocking foul. This could not be further from the truth. Never does a defenders feet have to be "set" in order to take a charge. The rulebook clearly states that a defender must "establish position", which means, you must be between the offensive player and the hoop. Establishing position can be done with either lateral movements or backpedalling.
If the defender is in a position where he is backpedalling, it does not give the offensive player a right to lower a shoulder and bowl right over the defender if the defender has established his position between the ball and the hoop. A good defender plays defense with his feet. Shuffling from side to side and keeping the offensive player from a clear path to the hoop. If at any point the defender were to get his feet "set" in order to avoid a blocking foul called, it would make playing on-ball defense nearly impossible.
Now if a defender is late to establishing position, that is indeed a blocking foul. Late lateral movement will usually end with the defender illegally impeding the path of direction of the offensive player in order to regain position. If a defender is smart, he abandons his attempt at laterally sliding and turns and runs to beat his counterpart to "the spot" so he can regain a legal position and start from that point.
All of the rules are written this way on purpose. They favor not the bigger player but the one that has the best technique. Basketball is not a game of size or height. It is a game of quick feet and technique.
Currently, I volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club here in Irvine, CA. I coach a 5th & 6th grade basketball team. We had our first game last night. It was a practice game, the official league games dont start for another week. But for the kids, it didn't matter, they took it as seriously as if it were the NBA Finals.
The league had only had our draft to divide up all the players just a few days earlier, so the teams didn't even have a chance to organize a practice yet so in every sense of the word, it truly was a "practice game". For example, I was still learning the kids names mid-way through the 2nd quarter.
By halftime though, I felt like I was starting to get to know each kid. I only had one kid to substitute so I was able to do a steady rotation at nearly every dead ball. No player ever sat on the bench for more than 2 minutes of play. It gave me plenty of opportunity to talk to each kid one-on-one. Give them little tips and then have them go right back out there and put it to use. Needless to say, that at 10-11 years old, these kids are extremely raw. All they know is that they love basketball. Everything else is up to me to teach them.
Which brings me to the point of this blog entry, which is to talk about why I love coaching, and why coaching kids at this age group can be such a fun experience. They are still too young for the wins & loses to really matter, but they are just old enough to where I can begin to lay the foundation of their fundamentals that they will carry with them the remainder of their playing days. Simple things like proper defensive stance, denying the ball, and learning how to box out may seem like childs play to the seasoned high school or college coach who wants to be in a more competitive environment. But for me, while I like high level competition as much as the next person (I've been a part of pro world championship teams) I also find it extremely gratifying to be able to lay the proper groundwork for tomorrows stars.
Our games are not about wins and loses (the kids would disagree, lol) so you wont see me arguing with the ref's. In fact, I see the referrees at this stage as a 3rd coach. I look at them as a ally. I want them to call the tic-tac fouls on my players. The ref's are the enforcement of all the good habits that I am trying to enstill in the young ball players game.
By the end of the game, I was able to work on a few things with the kids that they were much better at the end, than they were at the beginning. Simple things like holding their hands up on defense and never turning their backs to the ball. Spreading the floor and communicating on the court. That was about all I could work on in such a short time but it was effective and their is still plenty of time left in the season to build on it.
During the time outs they were so wide eyed and eager to listen and learn. And they were all heavily invested in the game since they never spent much time on the bench during substitutions. And I think all of the parents were happy to see that their children were getting a lot of attention from me and then sent right back in the game. With 20 seconds left, the game was tied, we came out of our time out, and my kids went down and made the game winning basket with 3 seconds to play. They all jumped and threw their hands in the air in excitement and for me, it was about as great a feeling as I could feel seeing them so happy.
All in all, last nights game had it all for a coach. I got to work with the players, they were better in the end than when we started, and I got to see them all jumping in joy for their efforts. It was everything I coach for all in about an hours time. It doesn't get any better than that.