Are Basketball Shoes Non-Slip?

Non-Slip Basketball Shoes

When I was a teenager I would play basketball and see all the latest basketball shoes. There was a common theme among basketball shoes, it was the chirp. We played on a varnished wood basketball court and shoes would often chirp if you came to a quick stop.

Basketball shoes are designed to be non-slip shoes. They generally have harder rubber soles for outside use and softer rubber soles for inside use. These soles generally have a grooved pattern to help them grip well under high-stress maneuvering situations.

Like skate shoes and a skateboard, basketball shoes usually do a great job gripping the surface of the type of basketball court they were made for. Let’s find out what makes basketball shoes best for the basketball court.

Why Do Basketball Shoes Have Good Grip?

If you look at the features of basketball shoes you’ll notice that they have two things that make them non-slip.

One, they are all, almost entirely, made with rubber soles. Rubber naturally grips well on most surfaces. It does great on smooth basketball courts, with the exception of water or sweat on a varnished wood floor.

Two, they have a large surface area. In other words, the pattern on the sole makes a lot of contact with the ground. This gives them more grabbing power.

Three, they have sole designs that grip well and allow for effective maneuvering.

While not all basketball shoe soles are made of natural rubber, most are made of synthetic rubber or natural rubber. Synthetic rubber is usually made from plastics that act just like rubber but may be more durable and cheaper.

There are many types of synthetic rubber soles and with the right formula, you can achieve a great basketball shoe sole.

Natural and synthetic rubber perform about the same when it comes to grip. It all depends on how the shoe sole is designed and how soft the rubber is made.

Imagine a manufacturer wants a super soft synthetic rubber. They adjust the chemical composition and end up with a sticky rubber that is non-slip. Costs and performance, play a role in what type of sole a shoe company is willing to make.

Most people like both synthetic and natural rubber soles if they are thick enough to last and hold up over time. Most people can’t really tell the difference between natural and synthetic shoe soles.

They both act and react alike when maneuvering around the court and stopping quickly. You may notice some shoes are better and some are worse at gripping the court. Is this due to the type of sole?

It may be, but a good designed shoe and sole regardless of what the sole material is can perform equally great. It all depends on the overall quality of the shoe, in my opinion.

Patterns of Basketball Soles

basketball shoe patterns

Shoe designers are always trying to make form and function work together to create a nice-looking and great-performing shoe.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the past couple of decades is the zig-zag or wavy line patterns you find on most basketball shoes. This “herringbone pattern” ( is one-way designers have given basketball players a great grip no matter how they are maneuvering.

By creating patterns in different ways, designers can help basketball players to spin easier, grip better, and prevent the loss of traction during high velocity and high force moves.

As a teen, I didn’t always have the right shoes to play basketball. I would slip and slide on the indoor court and couldn’t dribble or pivot so well. The grip of my shoes just wasn’t designed for this type of activity.

Most basketball shoes do grip well. Yet, many basketball shoes tend to pick up dust as well. Some shoes will be fine for hours while others will need a wipe down every 15 minutes.

The pattern and the softness of the rubber make each shoe different. Most likely you want a shoe sole that:

  • Grips Well
  • Doesn’t Pick Up Much Dust
  • Isn’t Too Grippy – Hard Stop May Cause Injuries
  • Is Durable – Thickness Plays A Factor
  • Sole Curves Up the Side Of The Shoe

Why Is Rubber Non-Slip?

Why Are They Non-Slip

Natural rubber is made at factories that have formulas that help control the attributes of the rubber including:

  • How Sticky It Is
  • Durability
  • Strength
  • Heat Resistance
  • Its Hardness

To create a good basketball shoe you need it to be non-slip. So shoe companies will ask the manufacturer to create a sole with a specific pattern and soft enough rubber that will grip well.

Natural and synthetic rubbers can be mixed in many ways to create various types of soles, but most basketball shoes soles tend to be alike in how they grip and how much surface area contacts the ground.

Rubber is non-slip because it is made to be that way. For natural rubber, they mix the right amount of sulfur, use the right amount of heat, and the right curing agents to get a good non-slip rubber sole.

When a rubber sole touches the ground, it is soft enough to ensure strong tension between the rubber and ground is created. This helps the shoe grip in most situations.

If a basketball shoe does slip, it is because something comes bewteen the court and the rubber sole, such as lots of dust or water.

Keeping Your Basketball Shoes Non-Slip

Some basketball players clean the soles of their shoes before going on the court to get maximum grip. It can make a big difference if your shoes have collected a layer of dust on the sole from walking with them outside.

To clean your soles you can use water in a bottle with a bit of soap. Shake the bottle, spray on your soles and wipe them off with an absorbent cloth.

Some products are also available to use to clean your shoe soles, such as in this article I wrote. (Grip Sprays)

If your tread has worn down, it’s time to get some new basketball shoes. Tread can make a big difference in how much you grip the basketball court.

When I was hiking with soles that had lost their lug pattern in the front, I could no longer hike without slipping.

When your basketball shoes lose their pattern and become smooth, slipping occurs. You can’t get the traction needed to maneuver, post, and push off effectively.

Which Non-Slip Basketball Shoe Should You Get?

There are so many different types of basketball shoes out there and you will likely be able to find one in your price range that can offer great tractions.

Below is a video that tells about different types of basketball shoes and how they grip. This can give you a general idea about what to look for in a basketball shoe and what might be best for what you are looking for.

Fast forward to 1:30 to see the soles.

The best kind of basketball shoe for you may not be what others are looking for. Definitely try on three different shoes that you are considering and try them out on a similar flooring that you will be using the basketball shoe on if possible.


Basketball shoes can grip very well. Some are better in some ways than others at gripping, maneuvering, and giving you the feeling that you like.

If you decide on a shoe tomorrow I would definitely check out some reviews on a couple of different shoes you are interested in and see if the pros outway the cons.

Most basketball shoes will grip well but many pick up dust quickly on courts that aren’t cleaned often. So, getting ones that grip well even on a dusty court could make a big difference.

Thanks for visiting


Ric_man (talk) (Uploads), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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