What Does Traveling Mean in Basketball?

In basketball, traveling does not mean going on a road trip to ball the match in another arena. However, traveling is one of the rule violations in this sport, which very common all across.

Besides, this traveling takes place inside the basketball court, and it is not considered a good thing either for a single player or for the entire team.

Although traveling seems like a basic concept, it needs to be elaborated to explain its concept more clearly. While watching the basketball match, you must have seen the referee whistles and says, “Traveling.” So, what does traveling mean in basketball? 

Today, I have written a comprehensive article on Traveling in basketball to understand the sport more evidently.

Traveling Violation

Before moving further, I have explained a detailed definition of traveling to clear your prior concepts.

So, traveling is a violation of rules in which one of the players, while holding the ball, moves his one or both feet illegitimately. This foot, which should not be moved, is called a pivot foot.

Since traveling directly concerns the traveling foot, it is crucial to understand what pivot foot is and how to identify it?

Pivot Foot

A pivot foot could be either right or left foot, which should be kept still on the floor in one place. Yet, the player is allowed to move another foot in any direction, but his pivot foot must be stable in one place.

Although the player can spin his pivot foot by remaining it at one spot, he would be called for traveling once his foot moves or leaves the ground.

You can identify if the foot is pivot when the player holds the ball in a still position and the ball is not dribbling. When one of his foot moves, his other foot would be a pivot foot. Further, the pivot foot must contact with the ground as long as he is holding the ball.

How to identify if the foul is traveling?

However, you can usually determine if the player has been called for traveling when he is holding the ball after picking up the dribbling basketball and moves his pivot foot.

Moreover, when the player takes three or more steps while the ball is not dribbling, it is also considered traveling. If a team player has called out for traveling, the ball would be given to the opposite team. Thus, that team must keep the ball unreachable to that place of the violation.

Some basic reasons for Traveling Violation

Underneath, I have discussed some general movements while playing basketball, which can be the causes of traveling violation. 

  • While running, if the player receives the ball, he can move two steps before passing, stopping, or striking the ball. However, if the player has moved more than two steps, he would be called out for traveling.
  • When the player elevates both feet from the floor and putting either foot back on the ground before passing or shooting the ball, it would be travel.
  • If the player is in pivot-foot position, but he somehow lifts or moves his pivot foot before releasing the ball to dribble, it would also be considered traveling.
  • In case the player falls on the ground without sustaining his pivot foot.

Hence, there are further a lot of illegal actions that end up the player to be travel. Therefore, these rules are particular to the basketball league. You can glimpse some of these rule violations.

Examples of Traveling Violation

You can recognize if the player has committed a traveling violation is certainly many ways. I have explained some situations of traveling in basketball through very common examples. 

  • When the player stretches or spins, and his pivot foot also moves across the ground.
  • When the player takes a step and moves his pivot foot before releasing the ball to dribble. It often happens when the player tries to travel the ball towards the basket in a still position.
  • When the player receives the ball before the 3-point line and moves away behind the line to shoot the ball without dribbling. However, if the player moves his pivot foot, traveling takes place.
  • When the player leaves the ground while trying to pass or shoot the ball, he fails to release it, and the ball falls on the floor.
  • When the player gets rebound and drags his feet or falls on the ground.

The Euro Step: A move to defend

The Euro-Step is a move in which the player elevates his dribbling ball while moving in one direction. After that, he takes the second step in another direction to escape the defensive player. This second step is taken as the extension of his prior move. However, it is not considered a violation. The Euro-Step is very common in National Basketball Association (NBA) League.

Frequently Asked Questions

In the NBA league, how many moves can I take before traveling?

In the NBA league, the player can take two moves before releasing the ball. However, this rule is new to the NBA league, yet the players were allowed to take one step only in its history.

Does catching an airball count in traveling violation?

If the player is not the first to touch the airball but catches it, he would be charged as traveling. But, if a player shoots the airball and his team player is the first to touch it, it won’t violate.


Concluding my entire article, one of the essential basics in a basketball sport is playing this game without committing traveling violations.

However, all rules of basketball should be taught in prior stages of learning.  Usually, youth is involved greatly in making violations in beginner’s leagues.

However, some critics have analyzed that the professional leagues have been rarely seen making such violations because of excessive practice and a great experience. Anyhow, I guess I have cleared all of your confusion regarding traveling in basketball.