Basketball is a sport that requires quick movements, precision, and agility. As such, basketball players must pay close attention to every detail that can affect their performance. One of the most common sights in a basketball game is players wiping their shoes before taking a shot, defending an opponent, or jumping for a rebound. But have you ever wondered why do basketball players wipe their shoes?

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this common practice and the importance of traction in basketball.

What Does Wiping Your Shoes Mean?

Wiping your shoes refers to cleaning the soles of your basketball shoes with a towel or other material to improve traction on the court. This is done to remove any dust, dirt, or moisture that may have accumulated on the sole of the shoe, which can reduce the shoe’s grip on the court surface.

Wiping your shoes is a common practice among basketball players, as it helps them maintain optimal traction and performance during the game. It is especially important for players who rely on quick movements, changes in direction, and sudden stops and starts to stay competitive.

The Purpose of Wiping Shoes

The primary reason why basketball players wipe their shoes is to improve traction on the court. Traction is the grip that a player’s shoes have on the court surface, which affects their ability to start, stop, and change direction quickly. A lack of traction can lead to slipping, sliding, or falling, which can result in missed shots, turnovers, or injuries.

Basketball courts are made of hardwood, which is a relatively smooth and slippery surface. To improve traction, basketball players rely on the rubber soles of their shoes, which have a tread pattern that provides grip on the court. However, the court’s surface can be affected by dust, sweat, and other debris that can accumulate during a game. When this happens, the court becomes less grippy, and players may experience a loss of traction.

Wiping shoes before a game or during timeouts helps remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated on the soles. This allows the rubber soles to grip the court surface better, improving a player’s ability to make quick movements and change directions.

Comparing Traction to Driving with Worn-out Tires

The importance of traction in basketball can be compared to the importance of having good tires on a car. Just like how worn-out tires can reduce a car’s ability to grip the road, a lack of traction can reduce a player’s ability to grip the court. When driving with worn-out tires, a car is more likely to slide, spin out, or even crash. Similarly, when playing basketball with poor traction, a player is more likely to slip, slide, or fall, which can result in missed shots, turnovers, or injuries.

Wiping Techniques

Basketball players use different techniques to wipe their shoes, depending on their preference and playing style. Some players prefer to use a towel to wipe their shoes, while others prefer to use their hands. Some players may also use a rosin bag to improve grip.

Using a towel to wipe shoes can benefit players who sweat excessively, as it can help absorb moisture from the court surface. Additionally, using a towel can provide a more thorough cleaning of the soles, ensuring that no debris is left behind.

On the other hand, some players prefer to use their hands to wipe their shoes, as they believe it gives them better control over the cleaning process. Using their hands allows players to feel any debris that may be stuck to their soles, ensuring that it is removed before stepping back onto the court.

Rosin bags are another tool that some basketball players use to improve their grip on the court. Rosin is a type of resin that is ground into a fine powder and placed inside a small bag. When the bag is squeezed, the rosin powder is released, creating a sticky residue on the player’s hands or shoes. This can help improve a player’s grip, especially in humid conditions when sweat can reduce the grip on the court.

Shoe Selection and Maintenance

Shoe selection and maintenance are crucial factors that can affect a player’s ability to grip the court. Basketball shoes are designed to provide maximum traction and support, but they can also wear out over time. It’s important for players to select shoes that fit properly and provide the necessary support for their playing style.

Additionally, players must also take care of their shoes to ensure that they maintain their grip on the court. Shoes should be kept clean and dry, as dirt and moisture can reduce the grip of the rubber soles. After each game or practice, shoes should be wiped down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. It’s also essential to let shoes air out and dry completely before wearing them again.

Some players may also choose to switch shoes during a game if they feel that their current shoes are not providing enough traction. This can be especially helpful if the court surface is particularly dusty or if the player has been sweating excessively.

The Importance of Traction in Basketball

Traction is one of the most critical factors in basketball, as it directly affects a player’s ability to make quick movements, change directions, and stay balanced. Good traction can help players make sharp cuts, accelerate quickly, and stop on a dime. On the other hand, poor traction can lead to slips, slides, and falls, which can result in missed shots, turnovers, and injuries.

In addition to improving a player’s performance, good traction can also enhance the safety of the game. A player with good traction is less likely to slip or fall, reducing the risk of injuries to themselves and others on the court.


What Do NBA Players Wipe Their Feet On?

NBA players typically wipe their feet on a towel or a specialized rosin bag to remove dust and moisture from the soles of their shoes, improving traction and grip on the court. Some players may also use their hands or the court itself to wipe their shoes, but towels and rosin bags are the most common methods.

Why do basketball players wipe their hands on their shoes?

Basketball players wipe their hands on their shoes to remove sweat or moisture from their hands, improving their grip on the ball during the game. By wiping their hands on the soles of their shoes, players can remove excess moisture and maintain a better grip on the ball, improving their ball handling and shooting accuracy.

Why do they sweep the floor after someone falls in basketball?

Basketball players sweep the floor after someone falls to remove sweat, moisture, and debris from the court, improving traction and reducing the risk of injury. Sweeping also helps to maintain a level playing surface and prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt, which can affect the bounce and movement of the ball.

Do all basketball players wipe their shoes?

While not all basketball players choose to wipe their shoes, it is widely regarded as good practice to do so before playing. Some players may opt not to wipe their shoes or may simply forget to do so. However, wiping one’s shoes can help to remove any excess dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the soles of the shoes.


Basketball players wipe their shoes to improve traction on the court, which is crucial for making quick movements, changing directions, and staying balanced. Wiping techniques can vary, with some players preferring to use a towel, their hands, or a rosin bag.

Shoe selection and maintenance are also essential factors that can affect a player’s ability to grip the court. Good traction is crucial for both performance and safety on the court, and players should take care to ensure that their shoes are clean and provide adequate grip.

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