What is traveling in basketball? Whether you are playing in a pickup game or watching a primetime NBA match-up, traveling rules can be a contentious subject. Learn what a traveling violation is to enhance your dribbling skills or better understand when professional referees make a traveling call.
What Is Traveling in Basketball?
Traveling is a penalty in the sport of basketball and occurs when an offensive player in possession of the basketball takes an extra step or makes an otherwise illegal movement with their established pivot foot. The penalty results in a turnover and the opposing basketball team begins its possession by passing in the ball from the sideline.
4 Examples of Traveling in Basketball
In the sport of basketball, traveling is a penalty that occurs when a player takes an illegal step while holding the basketball. Here are a handful of situations in which traveling rules might apply.
Air ball scenarios: Although it is a rare occurrence for a National Basketball Association player to miss the basket entirely, this scenario—called an “air ball”—does still happen at the professional level. The NBA rule book states that a player who takes a shot may not also be the first to touch the ball if it fails to make contact with the hoop, backboard, or another player.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which governs high school basketball gameplay, has no explicit rule for air balls, leaving the final decision to the refs.
Illegal movement of the pivot foot: A ball handler must remain in a stationary position once they pick up their dribble. They can no longer move in horizontal space, but they may choose to pivot on an established pivot foot.
For example, if the player lifts their left foot, the right foot is now the established pivot foot and cannot move from that position. If the pivot foot moves or drags, a player will receive a traveling call—in other words, a penalty.
Returning to the ground without shooting or passing: According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rule book, if a player jumps with possession of the ball, the ball must leave their hands before the player returns to the ground. Failure to rid themselves of the ball before landing will result in an “up and down” traveling violation.
Rolling or standing up with the ball: This example is common in lower-level basketball leagues, in which loose ball scenarios are more frequent.
When neither team has possession of the ball, it is a live ball. If a player dives for the live ball and gains possession on the floor, they cannot roll or attempt to stand up without first passing the ball to a teammate or calling a timeout.
What Is a Euro Step?
The Euro step, or Euro-step, is an offensive move that does not exceed the allotted two steps that a ball handler may take in performing a layup or dunk; therefore, it does not constitute 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. The player counters a second step in an opposite direction to create space from the defender.
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili made the Euro step famous in the 1990s, and every level of organized basketball soon adopted it. NBA players LeBron James and James Harden have also employed the Euro step often throughout their high-scoring careers.
What Is a Gathering Step?
The introduction of the gathering step, or gather step, has blurred the definition of traveling and ball control at professional levels. The term refers to additional steps permitted for the purpose of gaining control of the ball or progress toward an active shot, dribble, or pass. Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry utilizes this rule to create space from his defender in shooting what are known as step-back threes (a step backward followed by a three-point shot on the basket).
WHAT IS TRAVELING?
Traveling is a term you might have heard thrown around during a game, especially when a player seems to have taken too many steps without dribbling the ball. But what does it really mean, and why is it such a big deal?
Stick with us as we take a journey back to the roots of this rule, explore what constitutes a travel, and understand why it’s a crucial part of the game.
The rule of traveling has been a part of basketball since its early days. It’s not just a whimsical decision by the referees to interrupt the game; it has a deep-rooted history that reflects the essence of fair play in the sport.
ORIGINS OF THE TRAVEL RULE
The travel rule traces back to the game’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith, who in 1891, sought to create a sport that minimized rough play.
The original 13 rules of basketball, penned by Naismith, included the groundwork for what we now know as traveling. The idea was to keep the game fluid yet controlled, preventing players from gaining an unfair advantage by taking extra steps without dribbling.
EVOLUTION OVER TIME
As basketball evolved, so did its rules. The definition of traveling fine-tuned over the decades to adapt to the changing pace and style of the game. What was considered a travel in the early 20th century might differ slightly from today’s interpretation, reflecting the dynamic nature of basketball.
For instance, the introduction of the “Euro step” and other complex maneuvers have prompted discussions and clarifications regarding what constitutes a travel.
Diving into the mechanics of basketball, traveling is one of those terms that gets tossed around quite a bit. But what does it really entail? Let’s break it down into simpler terms.
DEFINITION OF TRAVELING
At its core, traveling refers to moving illegally with the basketball, which disrupts the fairness and flow of the game.
This violation occurs when a player holding the ball moves one or both of their feet illegally, most often by taking too many steps without dribbling the ball.
TRAVELING VS. OTHER VIOLATIONS
Traveling is often mixed up with other violations like double dribble. While they might seem similar, they’re different.
Double dribble happens when a player dribbles the ball with both hands or stops dribbling and then starts again. Traveling, on the other hand, is all about the steps taken without a dribble.
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