I see them do this all the time during basketball games, for some weird reason.

It seems so unsanitary, considering they're running all over the place and wiping their hands there. I thought maybe it's related to getting a grip on the ball? Or is it to get rid of sweat?

3 Answers 3


From being a player myself, I know that there are usually two main reasons why basketball players wipe their shoes.

  1. Most of the time, the players are trying to wipe the dust off their shoes and to put some of the moisture from their hands onto them, resulting in the shoes having a better grip (which usually results in quicker movements).

  2. When players are sweating heavily, they want to get some of the dust from their shoes onto their hands so that the ball doesn't slip as easily from their fingers.

“Some of them (the players) like to get a little grit on their fingers if their hands are sweaty,” Bob Sheffield of Notre Dame says.

Or, as Sean Taylor of Quincy High School frankly puts it:

“This has been happening as long as I can remember,” Taylor said. “I think (wiping the bottom of your shoes) also turns into a habit.”

  • This is the correct answer, imo. If you ever play on a dusty court, you'll know pretty quickly because it feels like playing on an ice rink. This is the same reason most courts have big, flat-pad brooms - to clear the dust before play. You still get in the habit of wiping your shoes though, as they still tend to accumulate dust. Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 13:06

They do this to prevent their shoes from getting slippery. It is the same reason they mop the floors near the hoops. It is important that the players have a good grip on the floor, and if their shoes are damp they do not have enough traction. It reduces the risk of injury and helps them to play better.


They do it just to make sure that they don't fall because of the dust on their shoes. Basketball court surface is smooth so there is high chance of fall.

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