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Picture this: there you are, ready to return a ball that’s just bounced off your blockers’ hands and is going out of bounds. You move to pass it back, and your shoes slip. Down you go, and the point goes to the other team.
Even if this has never happened to you, it’s not a hard concept to imagine. The fact is, slippery shoes make playing volleyball harder and – even worse – can lead to injuring yourself and your teammates. The good news is that these things are easily avoidable.
How to fix slippery volleyball shoes? To fix slippery volleyball shoes, you should wear them only on intended surfaces (indoors), maintain a regular cleaning routine to remove dust, dirt, or other debris, and keep the playing floors clean. As well, older shoes tend to be more slippery because the soles become smooth. In this case, buy new shoes.
In this article, I’ll be highlighting the best ways to keep your shoes grippy, whether your shoes’ design matters for traction, and comparing a few options on the market that I think are great choices to help you slip less.
Let’s take a look.
8 Ways to Keep Your Volleyball Shoes Grippy
Every player has their rituals, and this usually includes how to keep one’s shoes grippy.
While some of these are tried and tested methods to keep you safe and not sliding around on court, others are either ineffective or can be chalked up as urban legends.
No matter what type of player you are, it can be frustrating to find out that something that you think has been helping you was actually a detriment all along.
The 8 definitive ways to keep your volleyball shoes grippy are:
1. Keep Off the Grass (Stay Indoors)
All volleyball shoes utilize a special substance called “gum rubber” in their soles that creates the phenomenal traction that we know and love. It is an incredible substance that is both super grippy and very durable, and helps cushion your feet while playing.
That said, there is no faster way to break this down and destroy your shoes than to wear your volleyball shoes outside. Volleyball shoes are intended for indoor, hardcourt usage only.
If you’ve been wearing yours outside and find that you’re slipping around on court, check to see how your soles are doing. If they’re completely smooth – meaning that the gum rubber has mostly been rubbed off – it might be time to replace them.
Don’t worry though: if your soles are looking good, you should be able to clean them off and keep playing. Just make sure not to wear them outside!
Related Article: Best Grass Volleyball Shoes
2. Wipe Your Feet
If you’ve watched a game of volleyball, you may have seen players lifting their feet to their hands in between points to wipe the soles clear of dust. This is by far the most widespread method players use, and can offer a quick solution in the middle of a match.
However, since the shape of your palms do not conform perfectly to the bottom of your shoe, this is an imperfect method. Chances are, you’ll be wiping your shoes every other point just to keep from slipping.
Try using a dry (or slightly damp) towel to wipe your shoes, either at timeouts or in-between sets. You can even stand on the towel to wipe a bit more firmly. Although this may still be inconsistent, it will offer a bit more respite and leave your hands free to play.
While both the towel and hand method of wiping shoes produce inconsistent results, they remain the easiest options to utilize in the middle of a match or practice so should not be dismissed.
3. Wash With Water
One of the best ways to keep your shoes grippy is investing time into their daily maintenance.
Get in the habit of gently scrubbing the soles of your shoes (and the insides, if they need it) with warm, soapy water. This is best done after practice or matches: each time, every time.
Regular cleaning will prevent buildup of dust and debris on your soles and help you keep a positive grip for as long as possible.
Thirty seconds is all it takes per shoe, and you can either let them air dry overnight or throw them in the dryer for a couple of minutes. I only recommend the dryer if you’ve washed the insoles as well, or if you’re in a rush though – be nice to your shoes!
4. Don’t Use Grip Products
There is a fairly large market promoting shoe grip products of various kinds. This mostly takes the form of adhesive sprays and tapes to enhance the capabilities of your shoes. While some athletes swear by them and have found success, they are honestly better left untouched.
The problem with these products is twofold: they are tedious to apply (and to continue reapplying), and they turn your shoes into a dirt magnet.
During a game, it can be exhausting or simply unmanageable to sit out and apply your product to your shoes – often one at a time – and wait for it to take effect. There isn’t time, and it can feel like it isn’t worth it.
Realize that the reason you have to keep applying the product is because it’s a magnet for every piece of dust on the floor, and you start to see the problem.
5. Avoid Hair Spray
An urban myth that gained some traction is using hairspray on the bottom of your shoes. Hair spray has little to no gripping advantages for volleyball shoes.
The small success it seems to give comes from wetting the dust already trapped on your shoes. This activates the gum rubber but also gathers more dust at an exponential rate until dry, at which point there’s nothing to do but take them off and scrub with soapy water.
Avoid at all costs.
6. Rescore Soles/Get New Shoes
If the bottom of your shoes feels smooth, or the indents between the gum rubber have vanished, it means that your soles are wearing thin. This will result in decreased traction and the feeling that they have suddenly become slippery.
Honestly though, at this point I highly recommend simply buying a new pair of shoes.
Volleyball shoes are rarely designed to last more than a year of active use, and if you’ve had yours for two, three, or more . . . it might be time to start looking.
If you’re determined to continue playing with the same shoes, deepen the creases between the gum rubber by cutting some of it away. This will return some of the original grip to the shoe, but it will deteriorate quickly with less material for it to work with.
Remember to be safe, wear gloves, and use a safety knife if choosing to do this!
Need a new pair of volleyball shoes? Check out my article where I reviewed the 8 Best Volleyball Shoes.
7. Get a Grip-(Matt)
If you’ve tried everything, nothing is working, and you have a bit of free cash to experiment with, you might want to consider investing in a grip matt.
Grip matts are amazing: they are large panels of sticky sheets that you step on which removes debris from your soles – kind of like a lint roller for your shoes. You can use a single sheet many times and just throw the top sheet away when it gets untenable.
This is a good investment for a gym or team, as each player can contribute a small amount for a large benefit. Some – like the Slip-Nott Traction Matt – you can even customize on ordering with your team or company’s logo, which is pretty cool.
If you’re seriously struggling, you need serious tools.
8. Keep Floors Clean
Sometimes the simplest solutions aren’t always the most obvious.
By keeping your playing surfaces clean – such as dust-mopping it before and after practice – you will remove the very thing that is causing your shoes to feel slippery and create a safe environment for your team to play in.
Ask your gym staff or janitor about how to help keep it clean, and offer to help make it perfect.
Prevention always yields the best results. A clean floor = grippy shoes.
Does the Design of Your Volleyball Shoes Matter?
Like I mentioned earlier, volleyball shoes utilize a substance called “gum rubber” that gives them their awesome traction. The design of the shoe can offer additional grip in different zones of the foot by increasing the area covered by the gum rubber, and often different volleyball shoe companies have a layout that is identifiable with their brand.
However, I would argue that the design of your volleyball shoe doesn’t really matter.
All shoes are going to get slippery at some point. You can put this off with certain designs and quality of materials, but in the end the best way to prevent this is taking care of the shoes you have and the surface you’ll be playing on.
3 Shoes That Provide Slip-Resistant Soles
The competition in volleyball goes beyond the confines of the court, and volleyball shoe companies battle every day to defeat one another. This has resulted in a huge breadth of choice when it comes to shoes, and it’s all too easy to get lost.
The way I like to remember the differences are as follows:
- Asics are the best value for money
- Nike are the best for jumping (knees, jump health, and cushioning)
- Mizuno are the best all-around but also most expensive.
There are many things to think of when choosing a shoe, but since we’re talking about grip today, we’ll focus on traction. I’ve listed my personal top three in no particular order, including one for each budget range.
First up is the darling of the new Asics lineup – the Gel-Rocket 8. With increased gum rubber sole, forefoot GEL rocket cushioning for extra traction with the weight dispersion, these are budget friendly shoes that might be low cost but are definitely worth every penny.
Fun fact: these are the shoes that I’m currently using this season, and my little sister got a matching pair to compete in her 12s division. Far and away the best option for beginners while also offering significant advantages for more experienced players.
Up next is another on the Asics line – the Volley Elites. The rubber outsoles aid in extra traction for stops and turning, which is especially useful when the bottom of your sole has already become slippery and every edge counts.
These shoes are awesome because they not only look amazing but offer extra ankle support in case of slips or misjudged landings. Truly the shoes that were made with maximum foot health in mind, and a really solid choice if looking for an option providing slip-resistance.
No volleyball shoe list would be complete without a Mizuno, the Ferrari of the volleyball shoe world, and although I had many choices, the Mizuno Wave Lighting Z4 was a clear stand-out.
These shoes use DynaMotion fit technology for stability and traction, which provides traction and lateral stability by connecting the wave plate – a cushioning and suspension system – to the ground. This provides easier transition between multiple surfaces and will keep the canny player from slipping almost ever.
This shoe is definitely in the upper end of the cost range, but will be a durable and long-lasting shoe for intense action on the court. Definitely recommended for experienced players, but players new to the sport will have a dynamic introduction if choosing this route. Good choice all around, and one of the best shoes on the market at the moment.
If you have flat feet, then the Mizuno Wave Lightning comes in a Z6 version, which has great arch support. If you want to learn more, then check out my article on the Best Volleyball Shoes For Flat Feet.
Check Out Our Other Volleyball Shoe Resources
- Do Mizuno, Ascics, Adidas, or Nike Make Better Volleyball Shoes?
- What Are The Differences Between Men’s & Women’s Volleyball Shoes?
- Are Running Shoes Good For Volleyball?
- Can You Wear Basketball Shoes For Volleyball?
- What Shoes Do You Wear For Volleyball?
- Can You Wear Volleyball Shoes Outside? We Asked A Coach
- Best Mizuno Volleyball Shoes
- Best Asics Volleyball Shoes
- Best Nike Volleyball Shoes
About The Author
Ailan Samuel is a writer and athlete who has played volleyball at the university, club, and national level since 2012. He has competed successfully in both beach and indoor competitions, resulting in four silver and two gold medals, and was awarded the Half-Blue while playing in Scotland. He received his MA in English and Medieval History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is currently studying for his MA in Publishing and Creative Writing at Bournemouth University.