This article will define traveling in basketball as well as discuss the penalty, how to avoid it, and how NBA referees determine what constitutes a travel.

The offense of traveling in basketball frequently confounds spectators.

Given that the rule is a little bit different at the highest level of basketball, this isn’t all that surprising.

This naturally results in discussions about whether or not a particular action qualifies as travel on a regular basis.

For example, the “euro step” and the “step through” frequently lead to online disagreements.

Now it’s time to end the confusion…

I’ll explain traveling in basketball in detail below.

What is Traveling in Basketball?

Here’s a simple definition:

Traveling is the illegal movement of one or both feet while in possession.

Players in basketball are only allowed to take two steps while holding the basketball.

(Unless they’re dribbling, of course)

A player will be called for traveling if they ever take more than two steps while possessing the ball.

Here’s a great video that goes more in-depth on the FIBA rules for traveling:

The Pivot Foot

Players establish a “pivot foot” when they aren’t dribbling the basketball. When a player is standing still and holding the ball, this is the foot that CANNOT move.

Players may spin on their pivot foot, but it cannot slide and must stay in the same position.

Players CAN raise their pivot foot off the ground, but they MUST release the ball from their hands before their pivot foot touches the ground again. Hence, they have to shoot or pass.

Why is Traveling Illegal?

To put it simply…

The traveling restriction was put in place to give the defensive team some leverage.

Think about it like this:

There would be NO CHANCE for the defensive team to stop the ball if the offensive team was allowed to sprint without dribbling, take as many steps as they wanted, and change their pivot foot whenever they pleased.

As a result, some regulations have been put in place to reduce the benefit of the offense.

such as the backcourt violation, traveling violation, and double dribble violation.

How Do NBA Referees Decide What’s a Travel?

From the NFHS (the body that oversees high school basketball) to the NCAA, NBA, and FIBA, almost every basketball league has traveling regulations. Many of these rules are similar and establish guidelines for establishing a pivot foot, allowing players to set position by moving one foot while keeping the other stationary. A violation of these regulations could result from the pivot foot moving in an unapproved manner.

Before taking the two steps required to assess a travel call, a player who receives a pass while in motion may take one gather step. Any time a player seizes possession of a loose ball—which could be in the middle of a pass, bounce, or rebound, for example—they are said to be performing a gather.) The player may use both hands to touch the ball while gathering it.

The player can take a first and second step after gathering the ball before attempting a field goal or giving up control of the ball. Who is allowed to touch the ball following a field goal attempt is also specified in the NBA rulebook. For instance, a player who shoots the ball cannot touch it first if it misses the hoop, the backboard, or another player (also known as an airball).) If so, a traveling call might be made to them.

Traveling in Basketball

What is the Penalty for a Traveling

The NFHS and NCAA have different travel restrictions than the NBA. Traveling results in a dead-ball foul in lower leagues. The opposing basketball team then inbounds the ball from the closest out-of-bounds to the location of the traveling foul.

In the NBA, the opposing team receives possession of the ball when an offensive player commits a traveling foul. The team’s ability to receive the ball can only go so far, though. The free-throw line is the closest a team can get to the baseline according to NBA rules.

Other Examples of a Traveling Violation:

Basketball referees most frequently call players for traveling when they take more than two steps or when they use their pivot foot improperly.

Other methods of calling for travel do exist, though.

These include:

1. Rolling on the Floor

A player commits a traveling infraction if they roll over while holding the basketball that is on the ground.

2. Jumping While in Possession

commonly referred to as “up and down.”‘ The basketball must be passed or shot before either foot touches the ground again if a player jumps into the air while carrying the ball.

3. Passing to Oneself

A traveling violation occurs when a player has the ball and intentionally or unintentionally passes it to themselves without allowing any other players to touch it.

4. Falling Down

A player who is in possession of the ball and drops it without committing a foul will be penalized for traveling because their pivot foot would have left the ground.

5. Sliding the Pivot Foot

Even if the pivot foot doesn’t “technically” come off of the ground, it must stay in the same spot on the floor. Dragging or sliding the pivot foot is not permitted and will be counted as a travel.

6. Stepping before Dribbling

One of the most typical traffic infractions you’ll hear is this one. Before a player’s pivot foot touches the ground again after their initial step, the basketball must touch the floor.

7. Attempting to Get Up Without Dribbling

When on the ground with the ball in hand, a player cannot stand up without dribbling if they are still in possession of the ball. A player is considered to have traveled when they stand up with the ball but are not.

8. Shuffling of the Feet

When a player catches the ball (especially young players), they will sometimes accidentally “shuffle” their feet. This constitutes a traveling violation because the pivot foot is being moved.

Are Traveling Rules Actually Enforced?

Catching every traveling violation is challenging in basketball because of how quickly the game moves.

especially for referees who have only a few seasons of experience.

The NBA is frequently criticized for not calling games when players should be traveling. But many of these critics aren’t aware that the NBA’s definition of traveling is slightly different than other levels. The NBA’s traveling definition is eight parts and incorporates the “gather step.”

That said… referees are human and occasionally overlook the obvious ones:

Putting humor aside, if a traveling violation isn’t called, it’s usually because the game is moving so quickly that the official didn’t notice it or didn’t feel confident enough to make the call.

So, given how last-second the decision is, don’t be surprised if a few calls are missed occasionally.

Regarding basketball travels at the youth level…

Referees might not be as strict with every traveling infraction.

If every moving violation was called at that age, there would be a whistle every 5 to 7 seconds, which would not be enjoyable at all.

That said, referees shouldn’t let young kids get away with everything, either…

The ratio of calling for travel versus letting go must be balanced.

Referees can and should become stricter as players age.

Some Moves That You Need to Do Properly to Avoid Traveling Violations

The Euro-step

For offensive players who are being surrounded by defenders, the Euro-step is a very helpful move. The player executes this move by taking two steps after receiving the ball, one in each direction. You can divert the opposing defender’s attention by performing the Euro-step.

After receiving the ball, you must take two steps; if you choose to take three, you will break the traveling rule. You can watch the video to get a better understanding of this move.

Gather Step

The movement made as a player gathers the ball is known as the gathering step. In other words, the gather step is the action a player takes to gather the ball or take possession of it.

The gather step undeniably makes it simple for players to get close to the rim. The number of steps a player can take without dribbling is three, four, or even five.

You must keep in mind that the step taken when a player gathers the ball is distinct from the first step. This is something that many people misunderstand, breaking the law of travel.

You can watch the video to learn more about this move.

Step Back Shot

Basketball players can be extremely effective if they execute the step-back shot flawlessly. An easy technique is the step-back shot. It is used by many NBA players for a variety of activities, including jumping, throwing, passing, etc.

The step-back shot’s primary objective is to open up space so that the shooter can score or make an attempt at the basket.

A player must dribble aggressively toward a defender in order to execute this skill. This is done to draw attention away from the opposing defense, luring it back to block your path.

You also take a step back once you have confirmed that the opposition’s defender has returned. After that, you can put up a seven to ten-foot barrier between you and the opposing defender.

A basketball player will be formidable if he executes the step-back shot flawlessly.

Late Dribble

A fundamental move in basketball is the late dribble. As was already mentioned, you must dribble after receiving the ball if you are standing still in order to move the pivot foot.

The illegal movement of the pivot foot is a common component of traveling infractions.

Therefore, before performing the dribble, you are free to take a step in any direction. But you have to release the ball first, then shift the pivot foot.

Before dribbling, many players will occasionally move their pivot foot. They now have a traveling infraction on their hands.

Up and Under

Basketball players frequently use the up and under move. Many smaller players choose to use this maneuver to avoid rim-defenders and shot blockers. To execute this move, the player must have precise footwork. As a result, performing this move requires a lot of practice from the players.

To execute this move, you must stage a shot from a still position. This is done to confuse the defenders and cause them to leap. You will make the actual shot after you’ve distracted your opponent.

You must release the ball before placing one or both of your feet on the ground in order to follow the traveling rule.

Watch the video to see how to perform this move more effectively.


“Traveling” in basketball is a violation that’s called when a player uses incorrect footwork.

If you’re looking for an open teammate to pass to, you might unintentionally shuffle your feet or take an extra step to gain an advantage.

The same kind of violation will occur at least a few times in most games, so a coach shouldn’t ignore it if it happens frequently.

Teams can keep possession and increase their chances of scoring by avoiding travel.

Players can correct their footwork and stop traveling if they receive the right instruction during practice.


What is a Euro Step?

The Euro step, also known as the Euro-step, is an offensive move that does not take more than the two steps that a ball handler is permitted to take when performing a layup or dunk; as a result, it does not count as traveling. The ball handler takes the first step in an angle toward the basket while picking up their dribble or landing in a “jump stop” position. To get away from the defender, the player counters by taking a second step in the opposite direction.
Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs popularized the Euro step in the 1990s, and every level of organized basketball quickly adopted it. LeBron James and James Harden, two NBA players known for their high scoring careers, both frequently use the Euro step.

Is 3 Steps a Travel in Basketball?

In the NBA and FIBA, when a player has taken more than two steps without the ball being dribbled, a traveling violation is called.

What’s the Difference Between a Carry and a Travel?


A player may continue to move their feet in place of continuing to dribble. It will usually be called traveling, but the referee may add in that it is a carry. The other team receives possession of the ball as a result of the penalty.

How Many Steps Can You Take before a Layup?

Two steps
“A layup is the action of a player dribbling towards the hoop, taking two steps, and then laying the basketball into the hoop off the backboard.” This is true for a standard layup.