Rules for Walking in Basketball

When James Naismith invented basketball at the end of the 19th century, there was no mention in the original rules about dribbling. Dr. Naismith envisioned a game in which the ball was moved only by passing from stationary person to stationary person. Obviously, over time, the game adapted and became what we know today, with several rules created to regulate a player's ability to move by dribbling the basketball.

Rules for Traveling in College Basketball

Rule 4, Section 66 of the NCAA Men's and Women's Rule Book states that a travel, or walking, ​occurs when a player holding the ball moves a foot or both feet in any direction in excess of prescribed limits.​ The ​prescribed limits​ are defined as two and half steps, so if a player picks the ball up and moves two and half steps farther without dribbling, it is considered a travel.

According to the rules, traveling also occurs when a player fails to keep his established pivot foot. This means that if a player has chosen one foot to pivot on while he has the ball, he cannot change feet without being called for a violation. Jumping up with the ball and coming back down without shooting or passing is also a traveling violation. Traveling can also be called for a player who falls on the floor and does not maintain his dribble, or for a player who receives the ball on the floor and then stands up.

Rules for Traveling in the NBA

Although there is a rule for traveling in the NBA, the referees are a little more relaxed about calling a violation. Rule 10, Section VIII of the official NBA Rule Book describes what is and is not a traveling violation in professional basketball. While similar to the college game, there are some slight variations.

The NBA allows for players to take three or more steps, and states that a player may get two additional steps when catching the ball off the run or when he stops dribbling before passing or shooting the ball. In the NBA, unlike high school and college basketball, if a player is on the ground with the ball, he is permitted to stand up without being called for a violation.

Rules for Traveling in High School

The National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS, is responsible for setting the guidelines of most secondary sports in the United States. The rules are almost identical to those used by the NCAA with the exception of some minute changes regarding a player who is on the ground with the ball.

High school basketball also permits a player to run up and down the baseline without dribbling after a made basket to try to inbound the basketball.

Examples of Traveling

For amateur fans and players, the rules can sometimes be unclear. Traveling can, and should, be called in any of the following situations:

  • Any action where the pivot foot is lifted and returned to the floor, or dragged along the floor.
  • Lifting the pivot foot.
  • Taking multiple steps.
  • Shuffling the feet before starting a dribble.
  • While holding the ball, jumping and returning to the floor without releasing the ball.
  • While holding the ball on the floor, attempting to roll over or stand up, except in the NBA. Falling to the floor while holding the ball, even if it was caught while airborne (in high school and college only).