If you've ever watched a basketball game, you've probably seen players take multiple steps without the ball while they drive down the court. But how many steps can a player take before they are called for traveling? It turns out, it's not as straightforward as you might think. Let's dive into the rules and regulations of steps in basketball.

The Rules on Steps in Basketball

According to the NBA rulebook, a player who is holding the ball may pivot by lifting their pivot foot but cannot travel with both feet simultaneously. In other words, if a player takes more than two steps while holding the ball, they have committed a traveling violation and must pass or shoot the ball before taking any further steps. This rule applies regardless of whether or not there is any contact with another player—traveling is an illegal move regardless of its context.

However, that doesn't mean a player can't take more than two steps without the ball. For example, when a player is running down the court without possessing the ball, they may take as many steps as they want without being called for traveling. This also applies when driving to the basket—as long as no contact is made with an opposing defender, players are free to take multiple strides toward the hoop without penalty.

The Referee's Discretion

Of course, this isn't to say that referees never call traveling violations when a player takes less than three steps while holding onto the ball—sometimes they do! At their discretion, referees may call traveling violations when players make jerky movements or take awkward strides while attempting to advance downcourt or beat an opponent off the dribble. It all comes down to how natural and smooth each player looks on offense; if something appears suspicious or unnatural to a referee’s eye, then expect them to blow their whistle!

How Many Steps Can You Take In Basketball
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR / Unsplash


Well, there you have it—the answer to your burning question about taking steps in basketball! Next time you're watching your favorite team on TV or playing some pick-up basketball yourself, remember that you can only take two legal steps with the ball in your hands; however, once you put it up for sale (or pass it!), feel free to start striding like Usain Bolt all over again! Good luck and happy dribbling!

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