Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes? Understanding the On-Court Ritual

basketball shoes

Basketball players wipe their shoes to optimize grip, keep the court clean, enhance stability, increase grip on the ball, and reduce the chances of accidents. Wiping shoes removes dirt and debris, ensuring better traction and performance on the court.

Basketball is a game that requires swiftness in motion and decision-making. Whether in making lateral or horizontal movements on the court, every player requires sure footing.

Perhaps, you have seen experienced or inexperienced basketball players wipe off their shoes using their hands or on a mat. What is the significance of wiping the shoes?

The post explains how and why they do that.w

How Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes?

There are two famous methods that basketball players employ when wiping their shoes on the court:

Use of a Sticky Mat

Before stepping onto the court, many basketball athletes wipe their sneakers on a sticky mat. The practice goes on way back to 1988.

Use of Sweaty Hands

Besides the sticky mat, players also wipe dirt from their shoes using sweaty hands. That comes in handy amidst match playing. It’s so common that some players often do it unconsciously. After pacing in the court numerous times, the palm sweats.

But Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes?

There are several benefits of wiping basketball shoes on the mat:

basketball shoes

Optimizing the Grip of the Shoes

Basketball shoes have a design that gives players a better grip. The sure footing on the court comes from the threading pattern on the sole.

When dirt and other foreign material stick to the sole, they might block the threading pattern and interfere with gripping efficiency.

Therefore wiping basketball shoes removes those foreign materials and optimizes the shoe’s gripping ability of the court. A player thus finds it easy to make quick start-and-stop movements.

Keeping the Court Cleaning

When players wipe their shoes on the sticky mat before stepping into the court, they minimize the amount of dirt transferred to the court. Foreign objects in the court make it untidy.

Besides, the dust may promote accidents for players. Untidy court is a sure recipe for slipping when you make explosive movements and quick steps during a match.

Optimizing Stability and Minimizing Accidents

Stability on the court is of utmost importance for every player. But when foreign particles stick to the sole, it affects stability. Thus, when you make lateral movements there are more chances of slipping and falling due to poor stability.

Furthermore, dirt and dust on the basketball shoes cause poor pressure distribution. And hence the likelihood of registering discomfort to the player.

And with history displaying a high number of injuries in basketball, it’s wise for a player to exhaust all ways of minimizing basketball-related accidents.

basketball shoes

Increasing Your Grip On the Ball

As the basketball game intensifies, an athlete sweats. And a sweaty hand gives you poor gripping ability on the ball.

Hence basketball players wipe their shoes with their sweaty hands. Such an action has dual benefits. First, it decreases the amount of sweat on the palm and thus boosts the grip on the ball.

When you wipe shoes using sweaty hands, the traces of dirt on the shoes absorb the moisture on the palm. And that means fewer chances of the ball slipping off your hands.

Secondly, the player transfers more moisture onto the sole and thus increases their grip.

Habitual Act

Well, wiping off dirt from basketball shoes has tangible benefits. However, some players also claim they are so used to the habit that they sometimes do it unconsciously.

Other players find the habit irresistible when they want to relieve tension. Still, some athletes find it a habitual act that they carry out when preparing for a major action such as throwing a ball.

Is There Any Other Way to Boost the Grip of Basketball Shoes?

Apart from wiping off shoes on a sticky mat or using sweaty hands, basketball grip spray helps. In reality, the basketball court still gathers some dust.

Therefore, spraying sneaker soles with grip spray makes them stickier. As a result, a basketball player has minimal chances of slipping or falling while playing on a dusty court.

Tips On Cleaning Basketball Shoes

basketball shoes

Cleaning your basketball sneakers allows you to enjoy their optimum gripping ability. Also, a clean pair of sneakers boost your appearance and confidence on the court.

Here are a few tips for cleaning basketball shoes:

  • Use a soft brush to clear dust and debris from the grooves
  • Wash the shoes after every game or use them to keep them smell free
  • Employ a damp cloth to clean the area beneath the tongue or shoe laces
  • If there are stubborn stains on the shoes, cleaning with the help of soapy water is beneficial.


Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes Constantly?

Basketball players constantly wipe their shoes to remove dust, dirt, and debris stuck on the outsole. Foreign particles on the sole reduce the gripping action of the shoes, cause uneven pressure distribution and encourage the likelihood of slipping.

Why Do Some Basketball Players Lick Their Shoes?

Some basketball players lick their shoes indirectly. That is, spitting on their hands before rubbing the same hands on the sneaker outsoles. Doing so minimizes their chances of slipping on a dusty court.

So Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes?

Wiping basketball shoes before and during the match helps remove dust and debris from the grooves on the outsole. When foreign particles stick on the outsole or fill the grooves on the shoes, the gripping ability of the sneakers reduces by a substantial degree.

Further, such an outsole encourages slipping, falling, and uneven pressure distribution. Still, some players are so used to the habit that they often carry it out unconsciously.

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