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Why don’t they call more travels in the NBA?

I thought you could only take 2 steps in basketball and not 3. Isn’t picking up the pivot foot a travel? If you had these questions while watching an NBA basketball game well your not alone.

Why don’t they call more travels in the NBA? Calling every travel would slow the game down immensely that it would be boring to watch. Some of these known travel calls are not travels at all and are known as the gather step. Another reason for not calling travels is they do not affect the play and there is no real advantage to the player.

More on the gather step in this article, let take a look at what a travel is and what constitutes a travel in basketball.

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What is a travel?

So what exactly is a travel? We know that it means taking more steps than the rule book allows for, but it really isn’t that simple, it can get really technical. 

Based on the NBA Rule Book a travel can be one of these violations:

  • Lifting up the established pivot foot with the basketball in hand.
  • Taking more than two steps after dribbling the ball.
  • Taking more than one step if they still have their dribble.
  • Jump up with the ball but fails to release it.
  • While being on the floor with the ball and moving.
  • A player who shoots and airballs the basketball touches it first.

You can find the official rules on traveling on the website Click Here to take you there.

What is a gather step?

Many people often think that the gather step is considered a travel because they are counting the number of steps but not looking to see at which point the player starts to gather or pick up the basketball.

They assume a player has taken 3 steps and violated the traveling rule with their hands up in the air angry at the referee that they didn’t call the travel.

The gather step is the between phase of the basketball transitioning from the dribbling hand bouncing the ball to picking it up to shoot etc.

Players will take an extra step because they know they can gain an advantage without penalty.

The gather step is also known as the zero-step, once you have full control of the basketball by picking up your dribble you can now take two steps.

It doesn’t matter what happened in between the dribble and picking up phase.

FIBA in 2018 changed its rules to allow their gather in their rule book and games. I think this good when on offense it allows them to be more creative and score much more easily.

As far as the defensive side, it now makes it much harder to guard a player who has 2 and a half to 3 steps.

Do they still call traveling in the NBA?

Yes of course, the traveling rule is still called but it’s called a lot less than it should be. Again you may be mistaking a travel for the gather step.

Although it could be in fact a travel and the ref knows that. The number of extra whistles in the game would increase and would make it not very entertaining to watch.

The NBA is always looking for ways to improve their game and improve the viewer experience to lock in their fans, one of the ways is a fast-paced game with fewer whistles.

Do NBA players travel a lot?

Yes, by the rule book they travel a lot but it’s not that obvious. Remember traveling can be the lifting of the established pivot foot.

The pivot foot gets violated often, and players will even switch pivot feet with the ball in hand when they still have their dribble.

Technically when a player gets a rebound and lands on their left foot then right foot and not both feet at the same time, the left foot is supposed to be their pivot foot, and if they switch it is considered a travel violation.

This is never called.

Why is carrying never called in the NBA?

A carry is often not called for the same reasons as the travel it would slow the game down entirely.

The carry is really hard to call, as when you call it one way for a team you would have to call it the other way also.

The way players dribble in this day and age would be considered a carry 3o years ago. 

For a carry to be called the player would have to put his hand underneath the basketball and make the carry look like an unnatural dribbling motion that goes against the laws of physics.

How many steps can you take in between dribbles?

There is no such rule that states that you need to take a certain amount of steps between dribbles.

In fact, as long as it’s not a carry ball or it appears to be a travel in any way, you are free to take as many steps as necessary.

Are 3 steps allowed in NBA?

No, but the workaround for 3 steps in the NBA is the gather step. or taking a small step before you catch the basketball to complete an easy layup or dunk. You may see players taking 3 steps and no whistle follows.

I think most referees assume that the player had gathered. This could definitely be why most fans think the NBA doesn’t call travels, while the ref may actually be correct in this case.

Longest travel in NBA history?

I went to youtube to find this out and the very first clip in the video below shows the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 The player in the video is taking 4 steps during his gather and then taking an additional 2 steps to complete the layup after picking up the basketball.

I had to use the Youtube speed settings and use the slowest speed of 0.25 in order to count the steps as it was too fast. Check it out yourself.

But guess what, some refs may call out, others may not. Unless the referee sees it as a carry it is a perfectly legal gather. 

Is a step back a travel?

A step back is not considered a travel, as the pick up of the basketball doesnt happen until you have actuially stepped back. It is comparable to a jump stop but stepping backward and off to the left and or right side.