What Is An Up And Down In Basketball? Full Guide

You need strong dribbling skills and laser-like focus in basketball to avoid violations such as traveling. But did you know that the traveling violation involves various classifications under different circumstances? One of these is the up and down violation.

You might wonder, what is an up and down in basketball?

When a player with the ball jumps and fails to release it either by shooting or passing before landing on both feet, he commits an up and down violation. An up and down is a traveling violation in basketball.

What Exactly is an Up and Down in Basketball?

When you’re new to basketball, the traveling violation is probably one of the mistakes you’ll be careful not to commit. You might think that the solution is to keep dribbling unless you intend to make a pass or attempt a field goal.

While that is correct, traveling constitutes much more intricacies if you look at it in any rulebook across various leagues. For example, there’s the up and down violation.

The up and down violation is a traveling violation in basketball. This occurs when a player leaps but fails to give up possession of the ball either by passing or attempting a field goal before landing on the ground.

This is a common violation in basketball. It happens for several reasons. Lack of focus, failure to master and execute a particular offensive move, lack of agility, and poor strategy are some.

For instance, an offensive player attempts a fadeaway. But at the last minute, he second-guesses his move as strong defenders confront him.

He’s unsure whether he should make a pass or attempt a field goal. Because of his indecisiveness, he lands on the floor without passing or shooting the ball. As a result, the referee calls him out for a traveling violation, specifically an up and down violation.

Is Up and Down a Real Call?

Technically, you can’t find a violation called up and down anywhere in the rulebook, whether the one that NBA, FIBA, NCAA, or NFHS uses.

But somewhere under the section that specifies what constitutes traveling, you’ll find a description that exactly describes an up and down. You’ll typically hear referees call for traveling violations instead of up and down violations.

League Rules for Up and Down Violation

Player jumps high attempting a dunk

Let’s look at how an up and down violation is described in the rulebook of various leagues.


Section 13.d of the NBA rulebook stipulates that if the player who has the ball lifts his pivot foot off the floor, he must give up possession of the ball either by shooting or passing before his pivot foot lands on the floor. Also, if he accidentally loses grip of the ball while in the air, he should not be the first player to regain possession of the ball.


In the FIBA rulebook, you’ll find what constitutes a traveling violation under Rule 5, Article 25. Section 25.2.1 specifies that if the player in possession of the ball raises one or both feet off the floor, he should first release the ball before a foot may land on the floor.


Rule 9, Section 5, Article 5.a of the NCAA rulebook states that a player in possession of the ball may lift his pivot foot, but it shouldn’t return to the ground before the player gives up possession of the ball either by passing or attempting a field goal.

Violation of any of these means that a player has committed an up and down. Note, too, that the NFHS implements traveling rules very similar to the contents of the NCAA rulebook. So, the officials may call for what’s described as an up and down in high school basketball.

What is the Penalty of an Up and Down Violation?

Leagues implement the same penalty they impose for any traveling violation when a player commits an up and down. The team of the offending player loses possession of the ball.

Then, the opposing team will take possession of the ball nearest the area of the court where the infraction occurred.

Practical Tips to Avoid the Up and Down Violation

Player jumping while holding the ball

The up and down violation is common and inevitable in many basketball games. But as much as possible, the offense should avoid this. Otherwise, they will lose possession of the ball, increasing their opponent’s chance to score points.

Here are some useful tips you’ll want to apply to avoid up and down violations.

  • Keep a laser-like focus on the game

Most of the time, a player unwittingly commits an up and down violation because his mind is not fully engaged in the game. He leaps up in the air, then becomes indecisive about whether to attempt a jump shot or make a pass. This typically happens when remarkably strong defenders surround an offensive player.

But if you keep a laser-like focus, you’ll figure out what to do even in intensely challenging situations. You can also focus on either quickly finding an open teammate or go ahead and shoot that basket.

  • Master Difficult Jump Shot Moves

Jump shot moves like fadeaway and step back are difficult to execute, especially for beginners. So, don’t attempt to perform these in an actual game if you’re not that confident yet. Give it some time.

During your team practice or your solo practice, that’s the perfect time to attempt these moves. Keep practicing. If you can properly execute these moves even while strong defenders surround you, that’s a sign you can perform these in a real game without fearing you might commit a mistake.

  • Constantly Improve your ball handling skills

Whether that’s dribbling, making a strong pass while up in the air, or attempting a field goal, ball-handling skills are indispensable if you want to be a successful basketball player. Specifically, these skills can help you stay agile in whatever situation. As a result, you’ll avoid committing violations such as the up and down.


As our take-home point, while an up and down violation is a common type of traveling violation that occurs in basketball games, it can be avoided. T

o avoid the penalty that comes with it, stay focused, master your offensive moves, particularly jump shot moves, and constantly develop your ball handling skills.

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