How do I make my volleyball shoes less slippery and more grip? The trick that will improve your game

Stability is essential if you want to play volleyball as it is difficult to pass or spike if you are sliding. You won’t be able to control the ball that well if that happens and can lose a lot of points. There are two main reasons why your shoes are slippery. The first big reason is they are worn out. The structure in the rubber might have disappeared, leading to less grip. The second main reason is that there is moisture (such as sweat) on the floor that can make it more slippery. Let’s discuss what I have learned from decades of playing volleyball about making your shoes less slippery.

How to make your shoes less slippery.

Wiping off your shoes is often the easiest way to get more traction. This is not always possible so players often try to find other ways to get this done. Players often add liquids to their soles to make sure that their shoes are less slippery. Hairspray will make things worse as it just attracts dust and won’t help in the long term. There are also specific liquids available (see for example here) that can help improve the traction of your shoes. These liquids last for a while but don’t expect miracles. You might need to get new shoes if it is really a big problem.

The following video is for basketball but the tips also apply to volleyball.

If the court is really slippery, you can try to wipe down certain areas with a towel. It is also possible to discuss this with the referee or manager of the sports arena to see what can be done. Often a quick wipe can make a big difference.

Why do you need good shoes to play volleyball

Good volleyball shoes offer a lot of comfort and traction. They have advanced structures in their soles that make sure that you can start and stop running very fast. These rubber soles have been refined over several decades and work quite well in general. The main drawback is that they can deteriorate over time and also work less well when they get wet. You have to take these things into consideration when you play volleyball. 

Make sure that you have indoor sporting shoes as these are a lot better than standard shoes. Standard shoes are just not designed to deal with the pressures of volleyball. You have to run around a lot, jump and dive during this sport and therefore you need indoor sporting shoes. These don’t have to be volleyball shoes as standard indoor sporting shoes will do. Volleyball shoes themselves offer even more stability than general indoor sporing shoes but they can be slightly more expensive. In general, they are worth this added expense though. 

Why wiping of the field is important

Players sweat a lot during a volleyball game. This sweat often falls on the court. If you slide over the field to catch a ball, you can also sweat a lot on the floor. Sweat and other liquids can be very slippery. Indoor volleyball floors are often quite slippery to make sure that you can slide. If you add liquids, however, it might get too slippery to run. Therefore it can help to use a towel or mop to remove these liquids and make the field less slippery. A quick wipe can make a big difference. Some professional teams even have a dedicated person for this that comes and wipes the field to make sure that there are no slippery spots during the game. If you see that one of your team members makes a big slide, you have to be aware that this area might be slippery. Ask for a time out if you really think that it should be cleaned before you can play further.

Why volleyball players wipe their shoes

Volleyball players often wipe their shoes to make sure that they are not slippery. Sweat, dust, and other liquids on the field and soles can make shoes slippery. Wiping them off can make sure that you have enough grip and balance to defend and attack.  It is not always possible to wipe the field. Wiping your own shoes can help as well. This is one of the reasons why some players wear arm sleeves. You can also use your knee pads to wipe off your shoes. Some players use a towel but it is not always possible to get one as there are not a lot of pauses in volleyball. Therefore knee pads or arm sleeves can be more useful as you can give your shoes a quick wipe. This might not sound like much but it can be enough to make sure that you don’t slip and slide when you want traction and stability. Not only can you miss the ball if this happens but you can even injure yourself. 

Volleyball shoes have to find a balance between stability and agility. It is easy to design shoes that are very stable but that are impossible to run with. Finding the right middle ground between these two is very difficult. This is why you should try different shoes and see what type works for you. Everyone has their own preferences in this aspect so spend some time thinking about this. Some brands work better with wide feet whereas others fit better with people that have smaller feet. 

You can’t wipe off your shoes all the time so you have to accept that from time to time they will be slippery. All you can do is take this into account when you dig (or dive) to get a ball and try to wipe your shoes as often as possible. Some undergrounds such as wood are a lot more slippery than others. Check before the match on what underground you will have to play and adjust accordingly. You can use towels during the match to clean the floor if needed.

This is mainly a challenge during defense as you have to be quick at that point. During offensive actions, you often have more time to look around and make your movements. Therefore you don’t have fewer slips during offensive actions. You have to be especially careful when you are deafening as you have to look at the ball, your team members and also check if the floor is slippery or not.

As can be seen below, volleyball can be quite spectacular and you need a lot of grip for this (be careful and don’t do this yourself).

Be sure to check with your coach if they have recommendations if the field is really slippery. This can be dangerous and should therefore be discussed with the team. It can even be impossible to play volleyball if it gets out of hand. During training, you have more time to take care of this than you have during a match.

Why do you have to maintain your shoes?

After every training, you should wipe your shoes clean. This makes sure that the sweat and its crystals are not building up on your sole. If you don’t wipe this off, this can form cracks in the rubber and break your shoes prematurely. It is not that hard to wipe them off. Just take a towel and dry them. Some shoes are machine washable and this can help as well if you need more traction. Be sure to read the user manual when you buy the shoes. There you often get an overview of what you can do to keep your shoes in good working condition. 

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

Why you have to replace your shoes.

After a while, the rubber in your shoe starts to deteriorate. If you see creases or cracks, it might be needed to buy new shoes as this can affect the grip that your shoes provide. Shoes should last about 6-9 months, depending on how often you train. If you keep playing with them after this, the structure in the rubber will start to decay and it will be harder to offer stability. A lot of tricks such as adding talc powder to the soles of your shoes or using sprays on them often don’t work or only for a very short period of time. Often it is better to just invest in new shoes that once again provide you with the ability to play without slips and slides. It can be dangerous if you play with shoes that don’t offer enough grip as you can stretch your leg too far out, and could lead to having to sit on the bench as your feet hurt. 

In this article, we discussed how you can make your shoes less slippery. If you implement the tips that we discussed, you will be able to score more points and avoid injury. These are things that you have to do during the game and also between each match. Be sure that you don’t forget them as slippery shoes can be annoying to play with.