Determining whether or not a defensive player has flopped can be one of a basketball official’s toughest challenges.  Players are getting very good at faking being charged.  Some teams even practice “flopping.   High school players see collegiate athletes flop all the time on TV and have added it to their resume.

Considering a block-charge play as a verticality play may make it easier to decode. Assuming the defender has established LGP and is not moving forward at the time of the contact, draw a vertical line between the dribble driver and the defender.  If the dribble driver does not play through the “vertical” then the defender has probably “flopped.”  If the dribble driver does play through the vertical and the defender is displaced or goes to the floor the official is probably adjudicating a “charge.”  “To and through” is more than likely a charge call and “To and not through” is probably a “flop.”

Certainly the best way to rule on these contact plays is to have a good open “look,” but that is not always possible and even with a good look is often difficult.  Thinking of the block-charge play as a verticality play can give you a “contact” clue that may help you get the “flop” play correct a great percentage of the time.  Remember that sometimes defenders flop so early that there is no significant contact even though the dribble driver plays “through” the vertical.

Recently in a tournament game between North Carolina and North Carolina State there was a block-charge incident near the end of a close game with important implications. The defender went to the floor, but the officials did not bite.

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