Below are two video clips that show two different charge calls, just minutes apart in the same game and are called by the same official. I believe they were both called correctly.
The first charge call involves a primary defender and the second call involves a secondary defender.
Most agree that charge calls on plays involving primary defenders are considerably easier to read than ones with secondary defender involvement.
The primary defender has usually had legal guarding position for some period of time and there is very little surprise to this type of block-charge play. It seems like it is easier to see contact on the primary defender’s torso as well because he has had LGP for a period of time and it is easier for officials to anticipate this contact.
The challenge for secondary defenders is to obtain LGP before contact, which means initially two feet on the floor, facing the dribble driver and not be moving forward.
Obtaining this legal position can take place a nano of a second before contact by the dribble driver. (Nano is a unit prefix meaning one billionth)
The challenge for the official on block-charge plays that involve a secondary defender is that the defender often comes out of nowhere in an attempt to obtain LGP and her quickness in doing so often surprises officials. This last second movement by the defender also makes it hard for the covering official to tell exactly where contact took place.
The first thing prospective coaches are taught in their “Coaching Basketball 101” class is to whine that the defender was not “set” or the defender was “moving” when their player is called for a charge. We know and they know that defenders do not have to be ‘set,” whatever that means and that defenders can be moving at the time of contact as long as they are not moving forward.
The guard may move laterally or obliquely to maintain position, ¬provided it is not toward the opponent when contact occurs. 4-23-3
The torso is the key. Contact on the torso of the defender with the shoulder or the forearm almost assuredly means the play should be adjudicated as a charge. If the secondary defender takes it on the sternum it is quite likely that she was legal when the contact occurred.
Post contact clues often find both the offensive player and the defender falling in the same direction, often with the offense on top of the defender. If they both fall in the same direction the play is likely a charge.
If the dribble driver gets his head and shoulders by the defender and there is considerable contact most often the players fall in different directions and the play is likely a block.
Award the defenders who work so hard to get legal guarding position and often give up life and limb for their team. Remember that, “Players with the ball are not to be given more protection or consideration than the defender when judging which player has violated the rules.” 4-45-7
Finally, an official can quickly ask herself, “What did the defender do wrong?” And, if she cannot come up with a quick answer, the play is most certainly a charge.