How To Improve Traction On Your Basketball Shoes

Last updated on October 31st, 2022 at 01:34 am

Traction affects our overall ability to exert explosive power and perform at optimum levels at all times. Apart from affecting our vertical jump, poor traction can also lead to constant slipping and falling which can result in ankle and back injuries.

According to a recent study by Dan Van Groningen, the outsole patterns of shoes has a direct impact on the athletic performance of an athlete. When playing outdoors, especially on asphalt, you will notice that the surface tends to eat a lot on your basketball shoes.

While the uppers might be in great shape 6 months down the line, the outsole will always be in terrible shape.

Playing on dusty courts can result in the build-up of dust over time, especially within the spaces of your outsole. The buildup of dust on any basketball shoe’s outsole can cause poor traction.

If your outsole is in perfect shape, but you are experiencing poor traction, there are various techniques that you can use to improve the traction of your basketball sneakers.

1. Cleaning the Outsole

The outsole of any basketball shoe picks up dust, especially when playing on dusty courts over time. The buildup of dust on basketball shoes often results in poor traction.

One of the most common ways of improving the traction of any basketball shoe is by wiping the outsole. Wiping of basketball shoes is quite common and you might have seen professional basketball players in the NBA wiping their shoes in between games.

While wiping off your shoes during games or practice sessions might help you regain your traction, it can be quite tedious, especially if you have to do it multiple times. ‘

Thus, when shopping for a basketball shoe, it is important to always consider the type of surface that you will play on. Doing this will help you pick the right pair.

If you are shopping for new basketball shoes with the best grip, then you might want to read our in-depth review on the same.

1. Wet washcloth

When wiping basketball shoes, it is important to ensure that the towel is wet. If the towel is not wet enough, then it might not end up cleaning your basketball shoes properly.

On the other hand, if the towel is extremely wet, then your shoe might just end up becoming a tripping hazard.

2. Wipe the bottom of your outsole

Gently wipe the outsole using the wet washcloth. When wiping, it is important to ensure that you wipe the inner section of the grooves as well.

While you may not require a deep scrub, it is always important to ensure that you get most/all of the particles out.

3. Wait for your shoes to dry up

Once you have properly wiped the outsole, you should wait for a few minutes before getting into the court. Since there is still water underneath your basketball shoes, traction is usually low at this point.

If you would want to go a step higher, then you can use a pair of brushes and soap to wipe the outsole of the shoe. However, using a brush and soapy water is time-consuming. Wiping with a wet rag or cloth will get the job done.

Finally, you might want to avoid licking your palm and then wiping your shoes because it is not only unhygienic but also downright unsightly.

If you do not know to clean your basketball shoes, then you can check out this post on how to properly clean your basketball shoes.

2. Cleaning the Court on a Regular Basis

As mentioned earlier, dust tends to affect the overall traction of our basketball shoes.

Thus, it is important to clean the basketball indoor playing surface on a regular basis. From what we have seen, dry mopping does very little to the dust, hence you might want to use a wet mop when cleaning playing surfaces.

While you might not want to be regularly cleaning a playing surface, it’s essential to always play on a court that is regularly maintained. This will not only help you improve the traction of your basketball shoes but also focus on various elements of your game.

3. Use Grip Gel/Lotion

Grip gel or lotion is another effective way to improve traction on your basketball shoes. Although this technique is not that popular among basketball players, it is an “okay” way to improve traction on your shoes temporarily.

Simply, do not expect so much from grip gels.

While the ideal grip gel tends to get the work done, it is still time-consuming to constantly apply the gel to the outsole of your basketball shoe.

If you opt for the shoe grip gel/lotion technique, then it is important to ensure that you get the right product. When shopping for a grip gel it is important to ensure that you settle for one that’s non-toxic, non-sticky, and non-corrosive.

In addition, you should also ensure that the product you settle for does not leave a sticky residue at the bottom of your basketball shoes. Any grip gel that leaves a sticky residue underneath your shoes might end up damaging the outsole in the long run.

4. Sticky Mats/Traction Boards

Unlike all the other techniques mentioned above, walk-on mats are the most reliable and efficient way to improve the traction of any basketball shoe. Mainly used by NCAA and NBA players, walk-on mats work with all types of basketball footwear on the market.

Apart from being easy to use traction mats are also quite effective as they eliminate dirt and dust from those hard-to-reach places on your outsole. Using a traction mat is quite simple as it takes about 3 seconds to regain your traction.

In addition, traction mats/traction boards normally come with several layered adhesive sheets. Always remove the uppermost sheet once the adhesive wears off.

An ideal traction mat should not only come with several adhesive sheets but also should come with a modified base for durability. The underside of the base should feature a ribbed rubbery backing that will prevent floor damage and sliding.

Apart from improving traction, walk-on mats are also quite important in preventing floor damage, especially in indoor courts. Dirt and dust can rub off the wooden floor leaving unsightly markings.

If you are looking to buy stick mats, then we highly recommend the Step N Grip mats. Apart from removing dust and dirt easily, the Step and Grip mats also come in ideal sizes that can fit perfectly in your gym bag.

Get these highly reliable and effective slip mats directly from Amazon here.


Improving traction on your basketball shoes will not only help you improve your performance, but will also protect you from being susceptible to injuries.

While all four methods are effective in helping you improve your traction, we highly recommend either cleaning your outsole with a washcloth or using walk-on mats.

In addition to being effective in cleaning your shoes, walk-on mats also consume less time and are quite affordable.