4 Simple Ways To Make Your Basketball Shoes More Grippy

The clock is winding down, and the game will be won or lost on this possession. 

You’re ready to lock in on defense, and give your individual matchup all they can handle. They might have an idea of how they’re going to execute this crucial play, but you feel extremely confident that you can hang with them to make life difficult.

The moment unfolds exactly as you expected. The ballhandler looks at you, and you can see them thinking about how they’re going to try to beat you off the dribble. They take a few lateral dribbles, but you know what’s coming next. They’re taking it to the rim here.

Their momentum is starting to move towards the basket, and you know you’ll need a quick first step to stay in front. The offensive player turns on the jets and…you slip on the hardwood. They get to the rim and convert in the biggest moment of the game.

You were ready. You knew precisely what they were going to do, and they did it.

The only problem was, your basketball sneakers weren’t prepared for crunch time. All the athleticism, game-planning, teamwork and skill can be for naught if your footwear is not up to the task.

Here are a few ways to get better grip on your sneakers, so you and your equipment are setup for success.

1. Remove Debris From Soles

Whether we’re talking about basketball shoes or other types of footwear, soles can pick up a whole bunch of things that are on the ground. Anything from dust, dirt or debris is liable to catch on to the soles of your shoes, which can affect the level of grip they will ultimately have.

Since it’s not possible to avoid this in the course of daily life, cleaning the soles of your basketball shoes every so often to remove these particles can help regain your footwear’s grasp of the court.

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There are a few different ways to adequately remove particles from the bottom of your basketball shoes. 

Soap and warm water can help loosen dirt that has fastened itself on to soles, which is a good place to start. After that, a rag or a soft brush can be used to gently wipe across the bottom of the sneaker, which should clean away whatever was latched on. 

Be sure to carefully address the grooves in the bottom of your shoes as well, which can be a prime location for dust to settle.

Pros:

  • Method is thorough and should remove most troublesome particles
  • Can be done comfortably at home, or before a game if proper materials are on hand

Cons:

  • Can take more time than other methods if substantial dirt is present
  • A tougher thistle brush might help remove dirt, but could also scrape the bottom of the shoe

2. Natural Resources

Sometimes the easiest and most effective basketball shoe friction fixes are almost too good to be true. There usually isn’t much downtime in a basketball game, so anything that can quickly recapture the adhesive nature of the bottom of your shoes is much appreciated.

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Water, in its various forms, can help achieve this. 

If there’s a water fountain or restroom near the court, you can pour water on your hand, and then press your wet palm against the soles of your shoe. It’s can also be helpful to pour some water(while being careful not to make a mess) in a small area of the floor, and then step on it to achieve the same goal. After doing either, you will find that when you try to slide your sneakers on the floor, they will have much more friction than it did before.

If water via a fountain or bottle is not available, you can also use your saliva and follow the same procedure. It may not be the most visually appealing, but it should get the job done.

Pros:

  • An expedient fix to a pressing problem
  • Special equipment or adhesive solution is not required

Cons:

  • The saliva method might not be the most sanitary
  • Anyone who doesn’t know about the water on the floor could slip and fall

3. Stick On The Solution

There are a lot of different chemicals, liquids and mechanisms that are available on the open market which can be used as grip-enhancers. 

Some are designed just for that specific purpose in an athletic setting, which can be life-savers. Sticky mats are also pretty common among basketball players. Stepping on them, and removing them once that is done has been helpful to many over the years.

Even items that are not specifically designed to ameliorate footwear performance can be brought in with adhesive benefits. Hair spray and Vaseline have been known to be effective as well.

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If you decide to purchase a grip-enhancing spray, be sure to apply an equal amount evenly throughout the bottom of your shoe. 

In most cases, a little bit can go a long away, so be sure to quickly douse rather than spending a lot of time immersing each part of your shoe with the solution. If the latter happens, there is a risk shoes can be too sticky, which would impede the freedom of movement a player would hope to have.

If the sticky mat is the preferred option, it is hard to go wrong. Each sheet will be its own adhesive square essentially, and by stepping on it, your shoes will have that applied to them as well. 

The mat will continue to travel with you on your shoes in your next couple of steps, but just peel it off and throw it away when you’re done.

Pros:

  • Teammates tend to love players who share bottles of adhesive solution
  • Grip issues will be sufficiently fixed

Cons:

  • Price to purchase these remedies are comparatively higher
  • Serious players might need time to go through various products to find which suits them best

4. Look In The Mirror, With Your Sneakers

Honesty is usually the best policy, in many walks of life. This can also be applied to the condition of your basketball sneakers. We promise, they won’t get offended.

It can be difficult to let go of a pair of basketball shoes that have taken you to the promised land and back. They have felt comfortable on your feet for hundreds of games, and were with you every literal step of the way as you took your game to the next level. 

However, they currently aren’t giving you the level of support you need, and you’re slipping and sliding all over the basketball court. You have tried various methods(perhaps even some of the ones above) to help restore their good traction but nothing seems to do the trick.

It might be time to thank these kicks for their support, and move forward with a new pair of basketball shoes.

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Pros:

  • New sneakers with no wear and tear
  • A new pair should solve slippage issues in the middle of a game for a long time

Cons:

  • It might cost more money to purchase new sneakers
  • It will take some time to break the new sneakers in
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Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with basketball for over 30 years as a player, coach, and bettor. He has a degree in Sports Psychology and enjoys following both the NBA and College Basketball on a nightly basis.