In basketball, flop is a pejorative term that refers to a defensive player intentionally falling backward to the floor upon physical contact with an offensive player. The hope is that it will appear to the official that the defensive player was knocked off of his feet by the offensive player's contact, thus prompting the official to call a charging foul against the offensive player. Flopping can also refer to the offensive player who simulates fouls against the defensive player.
The move is also sometimes called acting, as in "acting like he was fouled". Because it is inherently designed to deceive the official, flopping is generally considered to be unsportsmanlike. Nonetheless, it is widely practiced and even perfected by many great professional players.
Flopping effectively is not easy to do, primarily because drawing contact can sometimes result in the opposite effect—a foul called on the defensive player—when too much contact is drawn or if the player has not positioned himself perfectly. Additionally, even if no foul is called on either player, by falling to the floor, the flopping defensive player will have taken himself out of position to provide any further defensive opposition on the play, thus potentially allowing the offense to score easily. To consistently draw offensive fouls on opponents takes good body control and a great deal of practice. Players generally become better at flopping as their careers progress.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) added a rule in 1997 to cut down on flopping near the basket, adding a 4-foot (1.22 meter) "dotted line area" around the center of the basket to help prevent flops. Such flops are charged as blocking fouls or no-calls.
Unlike the NBA, the penalty for "flopping" under FIBA rules is a technical foul. (FIBA rules state that would count as one of a player's five fouls (6 in a 48-minute game in some countries) towards being taken out of the game. In the NBA technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct count as one towards the two to ejection or seven to suspension.)
On May 28, 2008, the NBA announced that it would impose fines on players who show a clear case of flopping and suspensions for repeat offenders.
Flopping is a deliberate act to draw fouls on the offense. Many times you will see a guard penetrating to the hoop and then the defender attempting to get in front of the player to draw the charge. Not even putting his hands up to attempt a blocked shot, but keeping his hands down and then falling back when the player makes contact.
A lot of flopping is taking place late in games in attempt to get players in foul trouble so they won’t play as aggressive in fear of fouling out late in the ball game.
What needs to be done is to have flopping eliminated from the game entirely. Charging/blocking fouls are judgment calls and can sometimes be called incorrectly.
If the defender is in the lane and holds his position when a player drives to the basket too aggressive, then it should be a charge, but when the defender runs underneath a player already in the air, it should be an intentional foul since the defender was not making an effort to contest the shot. This should deter some players from overselling the contact made by flopping when the opposing team gets two foul shots and the ball back.
Now it’s probably a long shot to have flopping be a thing of the past, but wouldn’t you love to watch a basketball game and not have to see all the phantom fouls?