How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes? - Freaky Shoes®

How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes?

 In every indoor game, there's a common problem: sometimes, it's hard to stay steady on the floor. Whether you are playing basketball, volleyball, badminton, racquetball, or fencing, you need a good shoe grip to remain stable for sudden stops and sharp cuts. 

One of the most common questions newbie players ask is how to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes? or any sports shoes? 

Usually, the solutions provided are either to frequently wipe the bottom of your shoes with licked hands (yes, that’s right) or sweat, or to apply gel or hairspray/hand sanitizer to increase traction. 

Mind you, all these methods work only for a short time and lose their effectiveness in a few minutes. Plus, when you are in the middle of an intense game, you probably (more like definitely) won’t have time to repeatedly wipe your shoes or re-apply the gel/hair spray/hand sanitizer every few minutes. 

What’s more appropriate in such a situation is to use products that actually work for a long time and do not require applying again and again. If you are on the court playing a game, a traction mat or Grip Spritz spray works best, but you also need to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance to keep your basketball shoes grippy for a long time. 

The following guide is going to cover everything you need to know on how to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes. Stick till the end to read all about the do’s and don’ts of having grippy basketball shoes!

First, Why Are Your Basketball Shoes Losing Their Grip?

How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes?

Your basketball shoes lose their traction because of several factors like constant friction, dirt and debris, intense movements, court surfaces, etc. 

Generally, these factors can be divided into three categories that might be making your basketball shoes more slippery over time:

  1. Impactful and shoe-stressing factors that damage the texture of the outer sole. This happens when your shoes receive constant friction on rough court surfaces or during intense player movements. 
  2. Poor cleaning and lack of maintenance make your shoes deteriorate faster. Elements like dirt, debris, bacteria, moisture, and humidity can affect the grip, leading to a slippery shoe. 
  3. Other factors like natural aging or different types of materials used in the outsole of the shoe

Once you know which factors are causing your basketball shoes to lose their grip, you can follow the appropriate solution to increase their traction. 

How to Increase Grip or Traction on Basketball Shoes?

How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes?

We can categorize this into two parts: when you are playing on the court and when you are not. 

  • Of course, when you are in a game, you will need something quick and long-lasting to remove dirt and debris from the sole to increase traction. Methods like wiping or using the gel or hand sanitizer/hair spray are not recommended because of their temporary effectiveness. Instead, traction mats and Grip Spritz spray offer grippiness in seconds for a long time. 
  • When you are not in a game, you need to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance to keep the outsole of your shoes textured. Elements like dirt, debris, moisture, etc. damage the texture, leading to decreased traction in shoes. 

Here is a detailed explanation of everything you should know to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes, whether during or after a game. 

In the Game: What NOT to do!

A few solutions are quite common for increasing traction on basketball shoes on the court: wiping shoes with your hands or using a grip gel/lotion/hair spray/hand sanitizer on your soles. All these methods are only temporarily effective and do not provide any long-term benefits. 

Do Not Wipe Your Shoes With Your Hands!

If you are a true basketball fan, you probably have seen players wipe the bottom of their shoes with their hands. What's really intriguing is the way they do it: They lick their palms or wet them with sweat and wipe the bottom of the shoes. 

Yes, you read that right... if your first reaction is "why," then know that it is a common practice among basketball players to increase grip and traction. 

Basically, the soles of the shoes collect dirt and particles from the court after only a few minutes of play on a basketball court. Because the dirt reduces friction between the shoes and the floor, the ground appears slippery. Playing basketball or any other running sport in this manner can easily result in an accident.

However, by wiping the sole with his hands, a player can recreate the contact between the shoes and the basketball court. This also helps players hold on to the ground when playing basketball.

Still, no matter the quick benefits, this practice is not encouraged due to various risks, like:

  • It's extremely unhealthy to lick hands or wet them with sweat. Doing this excessively can lead to skin irritation, especially if it becomes a frequent habit. It creates an unhygienic environment and transfers bacteria everywhere, increasing the risk of falling sick. 
  • Your shoes get dirty every now and then and frequently wiping them with saliva can make you more thirsty and dehydrated. 
  • Wetting the bottom of the shoes may provide a temporary increase in traction, but it can also make the shoes slippery. This practice leads to an increased risk of slipping and falling, causing more accidents. 

Some people would recommend using a towel instead of your hands, but that is also not wise because:

  • Using too much water can make rubber soles slippery, while insufficient wetness will not effectively clean the shoe. 
  • If some areas are cleaned and others remain dirty, the shoes will not get enough traction to provide stability on the playing surface.

Moreover, wiping the bottom of the shoe with licking, sweat, or with a towel during an intense game is not practical. During the game, you will not be able to focus on the game, and stopping to moisten the shoes repeatedly is not possible. 

Do Not Apply a Grip Gel/Lotion on Your Soles!

Grip gel or lotion for shoe soles is a popular solution to increase traction on the court. This is applied directly to the outsole in a thin layer. The gel dries quickly, leaving a grippy surface without being sticky. 

However, like the wiping method, this solution is also not effective and practical. This is why:

  • First, the gel needs some time to dry. Whenever you apply it, whether before or during the game, you'll need to wait for it to dry. Before the gel completely dries, you cannot wear your shoes and walk in them. 
  • Secondly, the gel is a temporary solution. Once it touches the ground and starts picking up dirt, it will gradually lose its effectiveness. When that happens, you'll have to sit and apply the gel again. This goes on forever as the gel will last only a few minutes and you'll have to do it all over again: apply the gel, wait for a few minutes to dry it, and then repeat. This is not practical in any game as you cannot stop and reapply the gel in the middle of an intense game. 
  • Lastly, because the product attracts dirt, every time you put it on again, it adds more layers of dirt and gel to your shoes. This creates a problem where you end up with a lot of hard-packed dirt on your shoes, making the soles slippery.

Do NOT Use a Hand Sanitizer/Hair Spray

It’s crazy that people even think of these products to use on their shoes. You should avoid using any of these because:

  • Using hand sanitizer or hair spray on basketball shoes can make the outsoles slippery instead of grippy.
  • Hand sanitizers and hair sprays are designed for hands and hair, not for shoes. They can contain ingredients that are not suitable for shoe materials and might damage them. 
  • The effect of hand sanitizer or hair spray is temporary. It might give a brief boost in grip, but it wears off quickly, requiring frequent reapplication during the game like the gel.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Get a Traction Mat! 

Experienced players know how important it is to stay on your feet during a game, so they invest in a traction mat. 

A traction mat, also known as a traction board or sticky mat, is made of disposable adhesive sheets secured on a sturdy base. 

When in the middle of a game your shoes become less grippy, you just need to step on and off on a traction mat repetitively. The sticky surface will catch all the dirt on your shoes, restoring their gripping power within seconds. 

When the top surface is covered with dirt, you can simply peel it off to get a new, clean adhesive sheet on your traction mat. Moreover, these mats come with a number of sheets, like 30, 60, or 75 sheets. 

Also, these mats are made of sturdy material (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Terpolymer) to absorb high impacts, so you can confidently place your feet on them with force during a game without any concerns. 

In comparison to gels or hairspray/hand sanitizer or wiping the bottom of the shoes during a game, these mats are far more effective. You don't have to keep redoing them after every few minutes, which can be frustrating. Instead, the strong materials in the mats give a good grip, helping you stay steady and preventing any slips.

Or, Get a Grip Spritz Spray!

For folks who find it hard to keep up with cleaning the adhesive mess on the outsole after every game or just don’t like their shoes covered in a sticky material, we have another solution for you! 

Grip Spritz is a spray that makes your basketball shoes have better traction on the court. You don't need to keep applying it, and it doesn't have sticky sheets. This means, it cleans and refreshes the rubber soles of your shoes without leaving a mess at the end. 

Even if your shoes are old, Grip Spritz can remove dirt and dust from the soles without damaging the material. It doesn't include alcohol or any other harsh chemical that might dry the outsole (as in the case with hair spray/hair sanitizer). 

You can use the Spritz Mitt, a cotton towel that comes with it, as a pouch to dry your shoes. Spray directly on the bottom of your shoes and wipe with the cloth, and you'll have grippy shoes for the game. 

After the Game: Clean and Maintain Your Shoes Properly! 

Once you are done with the game, you should clean your shoes properly and store them in a cool, dry place until the next use. 

This is how you can easily clean your basketball shoes to increase their grippiness after a game: 

  1. Get a soft brush or toothbrush, mild soap, water, and a clean cloth. 
  2. Tap your shoes together or use the brush to remove loose dirt. 
  3. Mix a small amount of mild soap with water in a bowl. 
  4. Dip the brush or toothbrush into the soapy water. Gently scrub the shoe surface, especially to the outsole, midsole, and upper. 
  5. Wash the soap away and scrub again for areas that are still dirty. 
  6. Once you are done cleaning the entire shoe, use a damp cloth to wipe off excess soap and dirt. 
  7. Let your shoes air dry naturally. Avoid using direct heat sources, like a hairdryer, as they can damage the materials. 

This is just one method to clean your shoes, but you can also try sanitizing or using a washing machine to keep your basketball shoes clean

Plus, after cleaning your shoes, follow these maintenance tips to keep them grippy for a long time:

  • Store your basketball shoes in a cool, dry place. 
  • Avoid keeping your shoes in extreme temperatures and humidity, as these can affect the materials over time.
  • If you have multiple pairs, rotate between them. This allows each pair to rest and recover, extending the overall lifespan of each pair.
  • Clean your shoes frequently or after every use. 
  • Store your basketball shoes in breathable shoe bags to protect them from dust and maintain their condition.

Final Words 

In a nutshell, don't lick your hands or use sweat to wipe your shoes, don't use a wet towel, and don't use a gel or hairspray or hand sanitizer. Seriously, these will "kill" your basketball shoes in the long run. They are only temporarily effective and redoing is more of a hassle. If you really want to increase the traction on your basketball shoes, invest in a traction mat or a Grip Spritz spray. Which one is the best? Choose according to your comfort and budget.

 In every indoor game, there's a common problem: sometimes, it's hard to stay steady on the floor. Whether you are playing basketball, volleyball, badminton, racquetball, or fencing, you need a good shoe grip to remain stable for sudden stops and sharp cuts. 

One of the most common questions newbie players ask is how to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes? or any sports shoes? 

Usually, the solutions provided are either to frequently wipe the bottom of your shoes with licked hands (yes, that’s right) or sweat, or to apply gel or hairspray/hand sanitizer to increase traction. 

Mind you, all these methods work only for a short time and lose their effectiveness in a few minutes. Plus, when you are in the middle of an intense game, you probably (more like definitely) won’t have time to repeatedly wipe your shoes or re-apply the gel/hair spray/hand sanitizer every few minutes. 

What’s more appropriate in such a situation is to use products that actually work for a long time and do not require applying again and again. If you are on the court playing a game, a traction mat or Grip Spritz spray works best, but you also need to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance to keep your basketball shoes grippy for a long time. 

The following guide is going to cover everything you need to know on how to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes. Stick till the end to read all about the do’s and don’ts of having grippy basketball shoes!

First, Why Are Your Basketball Shoes Losing Their Grip?

How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes?

Your basketball shoes lose their traction because of several factors like constant friction, dirt and debris, intense movements, court surfaces, etc. 

Generally, these factors can be divided into three categories that might be making your basketball shoes more slippery over time:

  1. Impactful and shoe-stressing factors that damage the texture of the outer sole. This happens when your shoes receive constant friction on rough court surfaces or during intense player movements. 
  2. Poor cleaning and lack of maintenance make your shoes deteriorate faster. Elements like dirt, debris, bacteria, moisture, and humidity can affect the grip, leading to a slippery shoe. 
  3. Other factors like natural aging or different types of materials used in the outsole of the shoe

Once you know which factors are causing your basketball shoes to lose their grip, you can follow the appropriate solution to increase their traction. 

How to Increase Grip or Traction on Basketball Shoes?

How To Increase Grip Or Traction On Basketball Shoes?

We can categorize this into two parts: when you are playing on the court and when you are not. 

  • Of course, when you are in a game, you will need something quick and long-lasting to remove dirt and debris from the sole to increase traction. Methods like wiping or using the gel or hand sanitizer/hair spray are not recommended because of their temporary effectiveness. Instead, traction mats and Grip Spritz spray offer grippiness in seconds for a long time. 
  • When you are not in a game, you need to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance to keep the outsole of your shoes textured. Elements like dirt, debris, moisture, etc. damage the texture, leading to decreased traction in shoes. 

Here is a detailed explanation of everything you should know to increase grip or traction on basketball shoes, whether during or after a game. 

In the Game: What NOT to do!

A few solutions are quite common for increasing traction on basketball shoes on the court: wiping shoes with your hands or using a grip gel/lotion/hair spray/hand sanitizer on your soles. All these methods are only temporarily effective and do not provide any long-term benefits. 

Do Not Wipe Your Shoes With Your Hands!

If you are a true basketball fan, you probably have seen players wipe the bottom of their shoes with their hands. What's really intriguing is the way they do it: They lick their palms or wet them with sweat and wipe the bottom of the shoes. 

Yes, you read that right... if your first reaction is "why," then know that it is a common practice among basketball players to increase grip and traction. 

Basically, the soles of the shoes collect dirt and particles from the court after only a few minutes of play on a basketball court. Because the dirt reduces friction between the shoes and the floor, the ground appears slippery. Playing basketball or any other running sport in this manner can easily result in an accident.

However, by wiping the sole with his hands, a player can recreate the contact between the shoes and the basketball court. This also helps players hold on to the ground when playing basketball.

Still, no matter the quick benefits, this practice is not encouraged due to various risks, like:

  • It's extremely unhealthy to lick hands or wet them with sweat. Doing this excessively can lead to skin irritation, especially if it becomes a frequent habit. It creates an unhygienic environment and transfers bacteria everywhere, increasing the risk of falling sick. 
  • Your shoes get dirty every now and then and frequently wiping them with saliva can make you more thirsty and dehydrated. 
  • Wetting the bottom of the shoes may provide a temporary increase in traction, but it can also make the shoes slippery. This practice leads to an increased risk of slipping and falling, causing more accidents. 

Some people would recommend using a towel instead of your hands, but that is also not wise because:

  • Using too much water can make rubber soles slippery, while insufficient wetness will not effectively clean the shoe. 
  • If some areas are cleaned and others remain dirty, the shoes will not get enough traction to provide stability on the playing surface.

Moreover, wiping the bottom of the shoe with licking, sweat, or with a towel during an intense game is not practical. During the game, you will not be able to focus on the game, and stopping to moisten the shoes repeatedly is not possible. 

Do Not Apply a Grip Gel/Lotion on Your Soles!

Grip gel or lotion for shoe soles is a popular solution to increase traction on the court. This is applied directly to the outsole in a thin layer. The gel dries quickly, leaving a grippy surface without being sticky. 

However, like the wiping method, this solution is also not effective and practical. This is why:

  • First, the gel needs some time to dry. Whenever you apply it, whether before or during the game, you'll need to wait for it to dry. Before the gel completely dries, you cannot wear your shoes and walk in them. 
  • Secondly, the gel is a temporary solution. Once it touches the ground and starts picking up dirt, it will gradually lose its effectiveness. When that happens, you'll have to sit and apply the gel again. This goes on forever as the gel will last only a few minutes and you'll have to do it all over again: apply the gel, wait for a few minutes to dry it, and then repeat. This is not practical in any game as you cannot stop and reapply the gel in the middle of an intense game. 
  • Lastly, because the product attracts dirt, every time you put it on again, it adds more layers of dirt and gel to your shoes. This creates a problem where you end up with a lot of hard-packed dirt on your shoes, making the soles slippery.

Do NOT Use a Hand Sanitizer/Hair Spray

It’s crazy that people even think of these products to use on their shoes. You should avoid using any of these because:

  • Using hand sanitizer or hair spray on basketball shoes can make the outsoles slippery instead of grippy.
  • Hand sanitizers and hair sprays are designed for hands and hair, not for shoes. They can contain ingredients that are not suitable for shoe materials and might damage them. 
  • The effect of hand sanitizer or hair spray is temporary. It might give a brief boost in grip, but it wears off quickly, requiring frequent reapplication during the game like the gel.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Get a Traction Mat! 

Experienced players know how important it is to stay on your feet during a game, so they invest in a traction mat. 

A traction mat, also known as a traction board or sticky mat, is made of disposable adhesive sheets secured on a sturdy base. 

When in the middle of a game your shoes become less grippy, you just need to step on and off on a traction mat repetitively. The sticky surface will catch all the dirt on your shoes, restoring their gripping power within seconds. 

When the top surface is covered with dirt, you can simply peel it off to get a new, clean adhesive sheet on your traction mat. Moreover, these mats come with a number of sheets, like 30, 60, or 75 sheets. 

Also, these mats are made of sturdy material (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Terpolymer) to absorb high impacts, so you can confidently place your feet on them with force during a game without any concerns. 

In comparison to gels or hairspray/hand sanitizer or wiping the bottom of the shoes during a game, these mats are far more effective. You don't have to keep redoing them after every few minutes, which can be frustrating. Instead, the strong materials in the mats give a good grip, helping you stay steady and preventing any slips.

Or, Get a Grip Spritz Spray!

For folks who find it hard to keep up with cleaning the adhesive mess on the outsole after every game or just don’t like their shoes covered in a sticky material, we have another solution for you! 

Grip Spritz is a spray that makes your basketball shoes have better traction on the court. You don't need to keep applying it, and it doesn't have sticky sheets. This means, it cleans and refreshes the rubber soles of your shoes without leaving a mess at the end. 

Even if your shoes are old, Grip Spritz can remove dirt and dust from the soles without damaging the material. It doesn't include alcohol or any other harsh chemical that might dry the outsole (as in the case with hair spray/hair sanitizer). 

You can use the Spritz Mitt, a cotton towel that comes with it, as a pouch to dry your shoes. Spray directly on the bottom of your shoes and wipe with the cloth, and you'll have grippy shoes for the game. 

After the Game: Clean and Maintain Your Shoes Properly! 

Once you are done with the game, you should clean your shoes properly and store them in a cool, dry place until the next use. 

This is how you can easily clean your basketball shoes to increase their grippiness after a game: 

  1. Get a soft brush or toothbrush, mild soap, water, and a clean cloth. 
  2. Tap your shoes together or use the brush to remove loose dirt. 
  3. Mix a small amount of mild soap with water in a bowl. 
  4. Dip the brush or toothbrush into the soapy water. Gently scrub the shoe surface, especially to the outsole, midsole, and upper. 
  5. Wash the soap away and scrub again for areas that are still dirty. 
  6. Once you are done cleaning the entire shoe, use a damp cloth to wipe off excess soap and dirt. 
  7. Let your shoes air dry naturally. Avoid using direct heat sources, like a hairdryer, as they can damage the materials. 

This is just one method to clean your shoes, but you can also try sanitizing or using a washing machine to keep your basketball shoes clean

Plus, after cleaning your shoes, follow these maintenance tips to keep them grippy for a long time:

  • Store your basketball shoes in a cool, dry place. 
  • Avoid keeping your shoes in extreme temperatures and humidity, as these can affect the materials over time.
  • If you have multiple pairs, rotate between them. This allows each pair to rest and recover, extending the overall lifespan of each pair.
  • Clean your shoes frequently or after every use. 
  • Store your basketball shoes in breathable shoe bags to protect them from dust and maintain their condition.

Final Words 

In a nutshell, don't lick your hands or use sweat to wipe your shoes, don't use a wet towel, and don't use a gel or hairspray or hand sanitizer. Seriously, these will "kill" your basketball shoes in the long run. They are only temporarily effective and redoing is more of a hassle. If you really want to increase the traction on your basketball shoes, invest in a traction mat or a Grip Spritz spray. Which one is the best? Choose according to your comfort and budget.

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Pete Oliveri

CEO / AUTHOR of Freaky Shoes®

Meet Pete Oliveri, the creative force and driving visionary behind Freaky Shoes. A New Jersey native, Pete is an accomplished American artist dedicated over 20 years to the consumer products industry, leaving an indelible mark in various domains such as graphic and packaging design, illustration, and product development. His extraordinary talent has earned him accolades, including the prestigious Bio Comics Award for his exceptional comic book content development work. However, Pete's ultimate achievement lies in his role as the Founder, CEO and creative genius of Freaky Shoes.

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