How to Get Grip on Basketball Shoes

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When it comes to basketball shoes, basketball players love shoes that have good traction and grip. Players love the sound of squeaking basketball shoes on the hardwood floor. 

Basketball shoes with great traction will make quick turns and change of direction a lot easier during games. If your basketball shoes don’t have enough grip then your performance will suffer. It may even lead to injuries. 

Therefore, maintaining the grip of your basketball shoes is important. There are various ways you can maintain and improve the grip on them. 

How Can I Get a Better Grip on My Basketball Shoes?

If your basketball shoes have a weak grip, it’s hard for you to keep your balance and play basketball comfortably. You’re susceptible to sliding on the court. This makes cutting, driving, shooting, and even defending on the court hard to do. 

To ensure you have a good grip on your basketball shoes, make sure your shoes are clean and the court is clean. You should create a playing environment good for gripping for your shoes. You also need to check if your basketball shoes have worn out or just need a bit of cleaning to endure a long basketball game

A pair of white and red colored shoes beside a basketball

Keep Your Shoes Clean

Wipe off the dust build-up from your basketball shoes. Collected dust can cover your outsole which will cause your shoes to lose their natural grip. 

Make sure you clear or wipe off the dust on the outsole of your basketball shoes before and after every game. If your shoes are made for indoor play, don’t use them on outdoor courts. Outdoor courts generally have a lot of dust. The rubber used for indoor basketball shoes that were specifically created to be non-marking for indoor courts will get damaged and collect a lot of dust. 

Common Ways for Cleaning Basketball Shoes for Grip

Use a damp cloth to wipe the outsoles of your basketball shoes. You can also add a small amount of water to help wipe off the dirt. Don’t do this just before game. It will make the outsoles wet and slippery.

Some basketball players also like to use saliva to wipe off the outsoles of their basketball shoes. Although it may sound disgusting, it actually works. Basketball players lick their fingers and use them to wipe the outsoles. This provides a bit of improvement in traction.

They like to do this because it’s quick and easy to do. They can also easily do it in the middle of the game.  

Make Sure The Court is Clean

If there’s no cleaning maintenance on the court you’re using, make sure to clean it up first before using it. If you’re in a basketball club, assign people each week to clean the court. 

Options for Keeping the Court Clean

Dry mopping the court won’t be good enough to remove the dirt and dust. Wet mopping the court is the best way for removing dust and dirt. That’s why having people clean the court ahead of game time is important.

Playing on a wet court is a hazard. This can lead to injuries. If you’re playing with friends or a casual game, ask your group to come earlier to help mop the court. 

If you can afford one, hire cleaning maintenance to clean the court. That way you won’t have to make time for cleaning it yourself. 

Use Shoe Grip Enhancers

There are various products that enhances the grip on your basketball shoes. These grip enhancers add a small amount of stickiness to the outsoles of your basketball shoes. 

A pair of basketball shoes with grip enhancers

They’re especially useful for old basketball shoes that are close to losing their grip. Newer basketball shoes also benefit from grip enhancers with the additional grip strength it provides.

Here are some shoe grip enhancers you can use:

  • Traction Fluid. This will give you the extra grip you need for your basketball shoes. Just apply enough amount to the outsole before a game and it will work immediately. The effect will only last for 5-10 minutes so you have to reapply it during timeouts. 
  • Traction or Gel Mat. This is an easy way to get the extra traction for your basketball shoes. Just step on it before entering the court and you’re good to go. It works by absorbing the dust and dirt from your shoes through the traction mat’s adhesive surface.  
  • Grip Lotion. Just pour a generous amount of grip lotion on a towel and step on it to get enhanced grip strength. 
  • Hair Spray. You can also spray some hair spray on the bottom of your shoes to give them a bit of stickiness on the floor. It’s unconventional but it works. 

How Can I Make My Indoor Shoes Grip Better?

Use them only indoorsUse them on rough ground
Clean them every weekLeave them dirty for more than a month
Wipe the the bottom of the shoesStorage them in a humid place

Properly maintaining your basketball shoes is important if you want it to grip better. You should wipe the bottom of your basketball shoes before and after every basketball session to keep the grip on the shoes. 

Unlike outdoor basketball shoes, the outsoles of indoor shoes are made of soft rubber suitable for indoor courts. They’re less durable than outdoor basketball shoes that are made to withstand rough concrete courts. The traction, however, is excellent and is great for making quick lateral and stop movements. 

Maintaining Your Basketball Shoes to Retain Grip

The most important thing you need to do is to NEVER use your indoor basketball shoes on outdoor courts. It will only damage your shoes’ outsoles and permanently lessen the traction. 

You should also have time to clean your basketball shoes once every week or two.You can also ask your teammates if they’re interested in buying a traction mat together. 

How Do I Make My Basketball Shoes Less Slippery?

If your basketball shoes are becoming slippery it may be a sign they are getting old and need to be replaced. Slippery basketball shoes will only hurt you. Replacing them is your priority. 

  • First, check the outsoles to see if the rubber has worn out or lost its original form. If it hasn’t, usually the culprit is dust and dirt buildup. 
  • Use a toothpick or small pointed object to pick off small pebbles and dirt stuck inside the grooves of the outsoles. Too many pebbles are usually the main cause why basketball shoes become slippery.  
  • Wipe off the bottom of your basketball shoes with a bit of soap and water and it’s good to go. For added measure, use shoe grip enhancers to retain a bit of grip. 

Why Do Basketball Players Wipe the Bottom of Shoes?

It’s to simply get the dust and dirt off their shoes to get better grip. A proper way to do it is to use a towel to wipe off the bottom of your shoes. 

Two men wearing white jerseys in an indoor basketball court

Most NBA players like to do it by licking their hands or fingers and using it to wipe their shoes. The saliva adds a bit of grip to the shoes. You can see them doing this most of the time during free throw attempts

Notable NBA players who lick their hands are Steve Nash and Hedo Turkoglu. They say it not only helps get a better grip on their shoes but also makes it easier for them to grip the basketball.  

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about getting grip on basketball shoes.

What Happens if You Have Slippery Basketball Shoes While Playing?

If you have a pair of basketball shoes that have lost grip you will not have enough traction while spriting. This will end up in a decreased sprint speed and could lead to a slip. Therefore, you could even get injured.

Is It Common to Have an Injury Due to Slippery Basketball Shoes?

No. However, although it is not one of the most common causes of injury in basketball, slips can quickly injure a player. An unexpected slip can make you tear or damage a muscle, therefore, you need to be careful.

Is It Better to Get a New Pair of Basketball Shoes?

It depends. If your basketball shoes are old and lost grip, the best option would be to search for a new pair. However, if your shoes are new, you should try to get grip on them before doing anything else.


Making sure your basketball shoes still provide the grip you need for a game is normal for basketball players. Grip and traction is an important part of every basketball player’s playstyle. Following the tips in this article will help maintain the grip on your basketball shoes.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.