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How Many Steps Is A Travel In Basketball

How Many Steps Is A Travel In Basketball? Decoding the Rule

Basketball is a fast-paced game that requires quick footwork, agility, and precise ball-handling skills. One rule that often leads to confusion among players and spectators alike is the “traveling” rule. This article demystifies the concept of traveling in basketball and the number of steps that qualify as a travel.

Summary of Traveling in Basketball

  • Definition of Traveling: Clarifying what constitutes a travel.
  • NBA vs. FIBA: Differences in the traveling rule across leagues.
  • Impact on Game: How traveling affects the flow of the game.
  • Notable Traveling Incidents: Instances when traveling controversies arose.

1. Definition of Traveling

Traveling in basketball refers to moving one’s pivot foot illegally or taking too many steps without dribbling the ball. It’s a violation that results in the opposing team gaining possession.

Table 1: Steps Allowed Based on Action

ActionAllowed Steps
Catching the ball while stationary0 steps
Driving to the basket2 steps
Pull-up jump shot2 steps
Gathering for a layup or dunk2 steps

2. NBA vs. FIBA

There are subtle differences in the traveling rule across different basketball leagues. The NBA, for instance, allows players a little more leniency with the “gather step” compared to FIBA rules.

Table 2: NBA vs. FIBA Traveling Rule

Steps After Dribble2 (after gather)2
Pivot Foot MovementNot allowedNot allowed
Jump StopAllowedAllowed (with nuance)

3. Impact on the Game

Strict enforcement of the traveling rule ensures fair play and requires players to hone their dribbling and footwork. It also prevents players from gaining an undue advantage by taking extra steps.

4. Notable Traveling Incidents

There have been instances in high-stakes games where traveling violations, whether called or missed by referees, have garnered significant attention. Players like James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have sometimes been at the center of these debates due to their unique playing styles.


Q: How many steps can you take in the NBA without dribbling? A: In the NBA, players can take two steps after their gather step without dribbling.

Q: Is the traveling rule the same in college basketball? A: NCAA rules closely resemble FIBA rules, with stricter regulations on steps after picking up the dribble compared to the NBA.

Q: Can you jump and land on both feet without it being a travel? A: Yes, if you land on both feet simultaneously, it’s considered a jump stop. However, thereafter, neither foot can serve as a pivot foot in the NBA rules.

In Conclusion

Understanding the traveling rule in basketball is essential for both players and fans. While the rule might seem straightforward, the speed of the game and various play situations can make it complex. Staying informed ensures clarity, whether you’re on the court or cheering from the stands.

-By Scott Jones