What does it mean dribbling the ball. I've always thought, you need to perform one dribble to every step you make and also you cannot have both feet above the ground at the same time. But I've seen there are some hesitation and other moves, where player jumps a little, or takes 2-3 steps to one dribble while sprinting.

What is considered to be dribbling and since when is it traveling?


1 Answer 1


From the NBA rule book:

A dribble is movement of the ball, caused by a player in control, who throws or taps the ball into the air or to the floor.

a. The dribble ends when the dribbler:

(1) Touches the ball simultaneously with both hands

(2) Permits the ball to come to rest while he is in control of it

(3) Tries for a field goal

(4) Throws a pass

(5) Touches the ball more than once while dribbling, before it touches the floor

(6) Loses control

(7) Allows the ball to become dead

During a dribble, there is no need to keep one bounce per step.

At the completion of a dribble, steps do matter though. It can become a travel if one takes too many steps after completion of the dribble:

  • If the player receives the ball in between steps, he/she has two steps to set a pivot foot. When that pivot foot leaves the ground, the player must pass or shoot before the pivot foot touches the ground again. This effectively gives the player three steps after their last bounce of the ball if they use their third step to jump for a shot or pass.

(This is explained in Section XIV-Traveling of the rulebook.)

  • Which rulebook? NBA? FIBA? I assume it's universal however...
    – user527
    Mar 7, 2013 at 0:13
  • I meant to say the act of dribbling is universal...I agree that there may be subtle differences in rules on how different leagues treat traveling.
    – user527
    Mar 7, 2013 at 0:52
  • 1
    Traveling call with, respect to pivot foot, is different between NBA and FIBA. THe others are pretty much the same I think...
    – posdef
    Mar 7, 2013 at 7:20
  • Anyway, Im still not sure when some moves are get called for traveling. Imagine step back move, some players does little jump in this move, others jump relatively far away from defender as fake and then keep dribbling... Since when can this became traveling? Or is it okay to jump during dribbling? Does it rely on referee judgement? ... Hope I explained clearly :)
    – Buksy
    Mar 8, 2013 at 21:49

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