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The Best Traction Basketball Shoes

author image William Lamon
Based in Miami, William Lamon has been in the fitness industry for more than three years as a tennis coach and certified personal trainer. William got his start as an NCSF-CPT while attending the University of Miami where he will earn a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology in the spring of 2014. Currently, William is also training to compete in his first powerlifting meet.
The Best Traction Basketball Shoes
Basketball shoes with the best traction can help you outmaneuver the competition. Photo Credit: Yobro10/iStock/Getty Images

Basketball, like other court sports, requires explosive changes of direction. Not being able to cut quickly and powerfully can limit a player's performance. While this may be frustrating, it's ultimately preventable by lacing up basketball shoes with the best traction. These shoes will include some variation of the following components: a herringbone tread pattern, soft rubber outsole, a good fit and a top style that matches your game.

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Tread Pattern

The tread pattern most commonly used in basketball shoes is the herringbone pattern due to its stopping power. The herringbone tread pattern looks like a zig-zag, which enables it to provide traction at different angles. The depth of the tread pattern also plays a role in the traction -- the deeper the tread, the more grip you'll get when stopping or starting. Having a deep tread is great for indoor courts, but if you play outdoors, a shallow tread will provide adequate traction while extending the life of your shoe.

Outsole Material

The material of the outsole is generally a relatively soft rubber. Softer rubbers have a much higher coefficient of friction, or grip, than harder rubbers. So, while a soft outsole is great for traction indoors, it may not be the best on a rough asphalt court, as it will simply grip too much. This will wear down the outsole quicker than you cut. A great alternative is getting a slightly harder and more durable outsole that will still provide stopping power without wearing down so quickly.


The way the basketball shoe fits can drastically effect its traction on the court. For example, if you've ever worn a shoe in which your foot slides around, you know that it can be a real hassle to quickly stop or go. The shoe should fit snugly so that there is little wiggle room. A snug fit creates a continuous flow of energy between the shoe and foot. Instead of sliding around in your shoes when you stop, you'll stop right when you plant your foot.

Top Style

Another lesser-known component of traction on the court is the level of support that the top gives. A basketball player must trust that with each cut, force will be transferred directly through his legs, into his feet and down into the ground. This sequence of events constitutes the basis for all movement but is especially important for basketball players since any slippage creates wasted energy and possibly injuries. High-top shoes provide a good level of support that low-tops do not, enabling the player to cut more effectively and with more confidence.

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