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Rule of the Week – Traveling

Everyone has traveled – but how many times are they called on it? When is a good time to call a travel on someone? When is a bad time to call a travel on someone? These are all important questions but it’s important to understand what a travel is before you call it on someone.

The USA Ultimate 11th Edition describes a travel as:

J. Traveling: The thrower must establish a pivot at the appropriate spot on the field and keep all or part of the pivot in contact with that spot until the throw is released. Failure to do so is a travel and results in a stoppage of play and a check.

  1. In addition, each of the following is a travel:
    1. A player catches the disc and either speeds up, changes direction or does not stop as quickly as possible before establishing a pivot (XV.B).
    2. A player receives a pass while running or jumping, and releases a pass after the third ground contact and before establishing a pivot (XV.C).
    3. Purposeful bobbling (including tipping, delaying, guiding, brushing, or the like) to oneself in order to advance the disc in any direction from where it initially was contacted (XV.A).
    4. The thrower fails to touch the disc to the ground when required (XIII.B).
  2. Exceptions:
    1. If a non-standing player loses contact with the pivot spot in order to stand up, it is not a travel, provided the new pivot is established at the same location.
    2. It is not a travel if a player catches the disc and releases a pass before the third ground contact (XV.C).
    3. If play stops, the thrower may reset the pivot.

Let’s examine each of these cases separately since there are specific situations in which you will see them happen.

1.1 Let’s imagine you’re marking someone who makes a cut, catches the disc and after catching, they run upfield a few steps. You will notice this because you are chasing them and as they catch the disc, they will suddenly turn into you. This could result in them calling a foul on you since you ran into them but in reality, they traveled first which resulted in you fouling. It’s a good idea to call travel on them so they understand they’re not allowed to do that. If they know the rule and know they’re not allowed to do that, you’re all good. Otherwise you might have to explain that when you catch the disc, you cannot change direction, speed up or slowly comes to a stop.

1.2 This refers to someone catching the disc, taking 4 or 5 steps and throwing. You will notice this right away because it will feel like they are actually running with the disc and then throwing. The 3 steps is meant for someone who is running and catching the disc to come to a stop. But more then 3 steps is running since that will result in 2 steps per foot at least. Be careful with this one though because it’s very subjective. This one can be used if you want to stop 2 people doing a give-go up the field. Generally although a give-go starts with 2 to 3 steps, it can quickly turn into more than 3 so it’s good for slowing the momentum of the play.

1.3 If a player doesn’t cleanly catch the disc on their first attempt and proceeds to (ON PURPOSE) tip the disc to themselves then it’s a travel. This can happen if someone is short of catching the disc in the endzone and tries to tip the disc in the air in order to catch it cleanly in the endzone. I’ve seen many players do this accidentally but you will be able to tell the difference. On purpose, the person seems more calm and relaxed than when they’re doing it accidentally.

1.4 See below for more on this:

X. End Zone Possession

  1. If a turnover results in a team gaining possession in the end zone that they are defending, the player in possession must immediately either:
    1. put the disc into play at the spot of the disc (to fake a throw or pause after gaining possession commits the player to put the disc into play at that spot); or
    2. Carry the disc directly to the closest point on the goal line and put it into play at that spot. If this option is chosen, the player taking possession must put the disc into play at the goal line. Failure to do so is a travel.

This is a pretty big one which happens a lot in a game. Imagine a huck that isn’t caught but which lands in the endzone. The player who is now on offense picks the disc up and walks it up to the line and throws the disc (as in this video: So, if you’re the thrower, make sure you tap the disc in when you walk it up or if you’re the marker, make sure the thrower taps the disc in – otherwise you can have a travel called against you/you can call the travel.

WFDF has slightly different rules but they both say the same thing – that you have to walk the disc to the front of the endzone in a straight line from where you pick the disc up.

The biggest thing about calling a travel for me is that if you’re setting up a good mark on the thrower, then a slight foot drag won’t be a huge difference. But, if they’re setting up for a huck and they clearly move past/around you because they drag their foot, then by all means, call the travel.

And remember, Spirit of the Game dictates that you don’t make calls against the other team simply because they are making them on you. A game that turns into a battle of who can make the most calls is not a fun game to play nor will it be very spirited. So know the rule, respect your opponent and call a travel when the other team has a clear advantage.

3 thoughts on “Rule of the Week – Traveling”

  1. Good article Rob. Always great to have clarifications on the rules and also to learn more about what to consider when thinking about making calls!

  2. Thanks Tze. I have plans to do this on a weekly basis so there will be more articles like this 🙂

    Let me know if there are any specific questions you have or know that others are curious about as well and I can do an article on that.

  3. Is this a travel? Player catches the frisbee does not attempt to stop and throws the frisbee after second foot step. The player was not running fast.

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