Grip is an incredibly important part of any basketball shoes. No matter what surface you play on, being able to stick to the floor allows you to run, move, and cut to the best of your ability.
Soles wear down quickly. They also collect quite a bit of dirt. Both of those setbacks cause you to slip and slide while on the court. That then greatly hinders your ability to stop and go, which then makes it much harder to drive to the lane or play defense.
Even shoes with only slightly worn down grip can cause you to be one second too early or one second too late. In basketball, that makes all the difference.
1. The Cleaning Method
Though grip wears down over time, there are quite a few ways to keep your shoes in good shape. The first, and perhaps most effective, is by cleaning them.
Many basketball shoes start to lose their traction as a result of the dirt and dust they pick up from the floor. That layer, even if barely noticeable, causes shoes to easily slide across the hardwood.
There are two different cleaning methods that will help eliminate that layer and reliably give you more grip no matter how much you play.
First, you can wet a washcloth and use it to wipe down the bottom of your shoe. Just make sure to get into the grooves. You don’t need to do a deep scrub, but you need to do enough to lift off the dirt particles.
If you want to go bigger, you can also clean your soles with a stiff bristle brush and soapy water. Scrubbing down your shoe in this manner gives a deeper clean. However, I find that it is quite comparable to using a rag. It comes down to personal preference and the amount of dirt on your shoes.
2. Utilizing Enhancers
If cleaning isn’t working, or if you want to take an extra measure on the top of cleaning, you can always turn to special grip enhancers.
Grip lotions are easily available sprays that coat your shoe to add more tackiness to the sole. A quick spritz will be more than enough to give you the extra grip you need.
There are also special sticky pads, also called sticky mats, that improve grip. These are primarily used in a gym setting, where they sit off to the side of the court. You then step on them before the game or during breaks to get a bit of extra adhesion.
Both of the above methods improve your shoe’s grip. Though they both work on their own, I often use them in combination with the washing method to get the best of both worlds.
Just remember to never use your basketball shoes outside. The traction is specifically made for hardwood. Using it on any other surface can quickly break down the rubber grooves and cause you to slip.
3. Fixing Grip in Game
Sometimes you’ll find your traction steadily breaking down in the middle of the game. If that occurs, you want to moisten your soles right away to ensure you don’t lose your edge.
That can be done through either quickly wiping them down with a damp rag (which some teams or gyms may have on the sideline) or by wetting your shoe with saliva.
Rinsing your hand in a drinking fountain and then wiping it across the bottom of your shoe can help your footwear stick. However, if there’s no time for that maneuver, licking your hand and wiping it on the bottom of your shoe works just as well.
I know the idea of licking your hand mid-game is not the most appealing idea, but it does work. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit, and it always leads to better traction.
4. A More Permanent Fix
No matter how much you use the above methods, there will be times where your shoe grip wears down past the point of no return. If that happens, you can have your soles fixed by a shoe repair service.
Getting your old sole replaced can make your pair feel brand new. It may not be as easy as cleaning the sole or buying spray, but it’s typically much cheaper than going out and buying a new pair.
Of course, if the tread is worn through and shoe repair isn’t an option, the only way to fix the grip is going to be purchasing new shoes.
Many people give up on their basketball shoes too quickly. The traction doesn’t feel right, or they find themselves slipping on the court, and they try a new pair. However, there are many easy methods you can utilize to keep your grip strong.
Make sure to try different methods and figure out which one works best for you. Some shoes respond better to cleaning, while others do well with general moisture of sticky pads.
What’s your favorite method for improving your grip? Do you have your own tricks? Let us know in the comments below!