Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes With Their Hands?

basketball player wipe their bottom of shoes

In the last 15 seconds of the NBA Finals, LeBron James, a member of the LA Lakers, uses his hands to wipe the bottom of his shoes.

Not only James but also professional players of all levels often wipe their shoes while on the stage.

But, why do basketball players wipe their shoes? Is it for entertainment purposes only?

Let’s learn more about this interesting action in this article.

Why Do Basketball Players Wipe Their Shoes With Their Hands?

There are two main reasons why basketball players wipe their shoes. First, to improve traction on their shoes. Second, to avoid the ball from slipping off their fingers.

To Remove Dust And Debris For Safer Control Of The Court

The court can become slick as a result of basketball players sweating, which causes less traction between the shoe and the floor.

This debris can reduce the grip and traction of the shoes, making it difficult for players to make quick movements and sudden stops.

This can be especially important in high-pressure situations like the last few seconds of a game when traction is crucial. By wiping their shoes, players can improve their grip on the court.

And after cleaning the lower part of their shoes, players can develop a foothold on the court, which can forestall slips and falls.

Players may be able to move with greater control and speed. They can make quick cuts, abrupt stops, and changes of direction with safer.

Thus, by cleaning their shoes during games, basketball players can decrease the risk of injury and remain protected on the court.

To Remove Sweat For Better Hand Control

Wiping the dust on their shoes is an easy way to dry their sweaty palms and improve their handles. This prevents the ball from slipping off their hands.

To Some NBA Players, Wiping Shoes Might Be Just A Tradition

Besides safety reasons, some b-ball players wipe their shoes as a tradition to show appreciation to fans. Sometimes before giving their shoes away, they will also autograph them.

NBA players like LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, etc. are some well-known basketball players who wipe their hands on their shoes.

Generally, almost all players have done this action several times in their career as a routine while on the court.

You’ll love: Who Has The Largest Shoe Size In NBA History?

How Wiping The Shoe Bottom Improves Traction

Dirt and small rocks can build up on the soles of basketball shoes, especially in the small nooks and crannies of the traction treads.

When not evenly distributed, this debris can get stuck and cause pressure points on your shoes. It makes moving or changing direction more difficult, causes a slip, or even causes a stop.

Keeping your shoes debris-free while on the court can improve traction and performance.

There are 3 ways to wipe your shoes – the Quick Wipe, the Scuff, and the Spin.

  • The Quick Wipe

This technique involves quickly wiping the soles of the shoes with one’s hands or the court towel. It is commonly used during timeouts or breaks in the game.

  • The Scuff

This technique involves dragging the sole of the shoe across the court’s surface to remove any dust or debris that may affect the shoe’s grip.

It is commonly used by players who prefer a more aggressive approach to cleaning their shoes.

  • The Spin

This technique involves a quick spin of the foot to create friction between the shoe sole and the court surface.

It is commonly used by players who want to quickly restore their shoes’ grip without stopping play.

You’ll love: How To Remove Shoe Security Tag At Home?

Is Wiping Shoe Bottom A Good Or Bad Habit In NBA?

Wiping shoes is a personal routine. It can be a good or bad habit in NBA depending on the player’s hygiene and how he seriously takes the games.

Some basketball players like Josh Hart does it often over the years in their career.

Whipping shoes with your hands in between or after games can be a good habit if it helps us clean the sweat on your hands and the debris on your shoes.

In this way, this routine help lessens the risks of injuries while maintaining our performance. You can do this routine before a high-pressure situation or a free-throw attempt to calm the nerve, boost your confidence, and focus to catch the goal.

However, it can be a bad habit if you uncarefully let the dust on the shoe’s bottom on your eyes, face, or body. As long as you pay attention to your hands and be careful, this won’t be an issue.

After the game, wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer to keep them clean.

Tips For Caring Basketball Shoes To Maintain Their Grip

To clean dust and debris on your shoe soles to maintain their grip:

  • Rinse the soles of your shoes under running water to wipe as much dirt as possible.
  • Massage the soles with a cloth and soapy water.
  • Rub the soles with an old toothbrush to clean away debris on the traction grooves.
  • Use a wet rag to wipe the soap off the soles. Then use a paper towel to rinse the soap off the sole.
  • Spreading a quarter-size volume of Vaseline on the toe and heels to condition them.

During the games, you can enhance the grip of your basketball shoes by stepping on a small area of water and then wiping your shoes on another dry area of the floor.

You can also use your palms to spread the sweat produced from intense playing in the game. This “water” serves as a substitute for your sneakers and can deliver the same effect as the first method.


1. Do NBA Players Wear New Shoes In Every Game?

No, NBA players aren’t required to change new shoes every game.

According to a Denver Nuggets equipment manager, they want to use a pair of shoes every 2-5 games.

They choose high-quality sneakers and be extra careful to maintain their peak performance during 48 minutes on the court.

2. What Is The Best Tread Pattern For NBA Shoes?

The herringbone pattern is the best tread pattern for NBA shoes. This zig-zag pattern provides great traction at various angles, making it easier to start or stop.

Another criterion of the tread is its depth.

A deeper tread provides more grip, which is excellent for indoor courts. But if you often play basketball outdoors, you should aim for a shallow tread.

Final Words

In sum, basketball players wipe their shoes for two main reasons – to maintain the grip of their hands and the grip of their shoes.

However, not all players often do this repetitive action. Some can choose not to do this or they may just forget it.

After all, shoe-wiping is a good routine and should be maintained before and in the middle of all games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *