If you play basketball on ANY level – chances are you’re familiar with the ultimate head-scratcher for all of us: heel slippage. Or a sloppy fit in general. Even though you thought you got the size right, the shoe still feels off. Let’s go all-in and break down how to prevent heel slippage in basketball shoes.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Here’s What’s in Store
- Common Heel Slippage Reasons & How to Combat Them
- Sometimes a Shoe is Just Not for You
- Your Shoe Isn’t Broken In Yet & Fix
- Too Long Length-Wise, Heel Moving Around & Fix
- Too Much Room Width-Wise or Height-Wise & Fix
- Your Shoe Has a Slippery Insole & Fix
- Your Shoe Has Slippery Heel Lining & Fix
- You Have Plantar Fasciitis (Flat Feet) & Ways to Combat
- You Have Cavus Foot (High Arches) & Ways to Combat
- Anti-Heel Slippage Plan of Attack for Your Future Shoes
- My Current Favorite Shoes for the Job
- Your Shoe Knowledge Doesn’t Stop Here!
HERE’S WHAT’S IN STORE
Throughout my several years of hooping and being into sneakers, I’ve tried a whole bunch of different ways to tackle this issue as it’s definitely super common even today, and I’ll be happy to share all I’ve got here.
I’ll cover the common scenarios that cause heel slippage and how to take care of ’em, as well as ways to reduce the chances of it happening for your future shoe purchases. I’ll also talk about my current favorite shoes when it comes to reducing the chances of heel slippage.
And there are a couple of important things I should mention about heel slippage too. The reality is – a lot of times we’ve gotta keep it simple and stick to the tried-and-true ways. But ways you might not be familiar with yet.
Let’s dive right in!
HEEL SLIPPAGE REASONS & HOW TO COMBAT THEM
Some things worth trying in your typical heel slip scenarios FOR YOUR CURRENT SHOES
For the ones that aren’t looking to get a new pair of basketball kicks and experiencing some level of heel slippage, you might be stuck and wondering if there are ways to fix it without investing in a new pair. Before getting into the specifics, there’s something you need to keep in mind beforehand.
SOMETIMES A SHOE IS JUST NOT FOR YOU
From my own experience, there are definitely a few tips & tricks you can do to combat the core of your problem or at least reduce the level of a sloppy fit. Remember though, a lot of times heel slippage that people can’t get rid of stems from the foot just being incompatible with the build of the shoe.
Provided they got the right size for that particular shoe.
Sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it but to look for a new sneaker. A slight change in size might be all you need or if that’s not the case, a differently built shoe that’s more in-tune with the anatomy of your foot.
Now, this doesn’t mean that’s the case for YOU. That’s why I highly recommend you to get familiar with the most common reasons for what causes heel slippage and how to attack each situation.
This way, you’ll understand your own case and make a wiser decision. If none of these methods seem to work for you – this probably means you’ll need to move on and aim for a better-fitting pair. I’ll talk about how to choose one in the later section.
Onto the possible scenarios & ways to combat them.
If you’re not really sure what’s the root cause of your issue, you can always perform all of these below as it’ll be an extra-safe way to find out before getting a new pair…
I. YOUR SHOE ISN’T BROKEN IN YET
The break-in period. Something that way too many people still neglect/don’t think about when initially hopping into a shoe. If you’ve got a sneaker that’s still new or you haven’t put 1-3 weeks into those yet, it’s not yet time to worry yet.
Shoes with a beefier material setup, such as leather, nubuck, suede, or even structured synthetic builds we see often today, all need some time before you’ll feel optimal inside it.
During the initial few runs in a fresh shoe, things like heel slippage, materials sitting weird with parts of your foot, or feeling a bit stiff/suffocated or clunky in general is COMPLETELY NORMAL.
Basketball shoes you see today have components such as TPU support plates, support systems in the forms of chassis/cages, as well as the structured materials used throughout the upper. Even the foam used for cushion can sometimes take a bit to soften up until you start feeling its full benefits.
THE FIX: GIVE YOUR KICKS SOME PLAYING TIME
It’s simple. If you’ve got a shoe that hasn’t seen much playing time yet, don’t worry about the fit too much for at least a couple of weeks before you start jumping to conclusions.
Raw material-based builds such as leather, nubuck, suede, or synthetic builds with more structure (such as Fuse or TPU) can even take a full month, where each wear gets better and better.
But we don’t get a lot of these classic setups today, as more modern solutions utilizing lightweight synthetics are dominating the market now. Knits, forms of mesh, textiles, wovens, etc. are the most common options these days. 1-2 weeks are mostly all you need with such shoes, and some minimal builds only need a day or two.
A lot of people who played in adidas’s D Rose 11, for example, reported on heel slippage but most of them also indicated that it goes away shortly after a few sessions. This can be the case quite often.
If you’re not seeing any clear improvement in the way your kicks fit a good month in, chances are it’s either not for your foot or you need to try a different size.
II. TOO LONG LENGTH-WISE, HEEL MOVING AROUND
Sometimes, you get a shoe that feels great in most areas but even your true size that would normally be solid leaves some room length-wise.
Adidas is notorious for this – I’ve personally played in most adidas’s flagship/mid-tier hoop kicks and A LOT of them fit a bit long while width-wise, the shoe is usually fine in my usual size 10.
Too much wiggle room often creates gaps in the way a shoe fits and this commonly translates into heel slippage, since your foot lacks the proper lockdown and can move around front and back.
THE FIX #1: PUSH THE HEEL BACK & TIGHTEN THE TOP EYELETS
What would seem a no-brainer, make sure to tighten the top eyelets which pushes your heel back in place. Even if you’re not a huge fan of a tighter fit, pulling down on the top lace loops might be necessary.
And BEFORE you pull down on the laces of your hoop shoe, make a conscious effort to drive your heel back to the back of the shoe as much as you can. Make sure to keep your heel in this position and then lace it up to lock the heel in place.
This is mostly a temporary fix since a lot of shoes don’t usually keep the full 100% lace pressure for a long time but something to work with while you’re dealing with this.
THE FIX #2: USE THE ‘BUNNY EARS’ LACING TRICK
A cool little method I’ve discovered a few years ago is the ‘bunny ears’ lacing technique. I don’t know if that’s how most people refer to it as but a sneaker YouTuber MR FOAMER SIMPSON demonstrated this method and called it that so there you go.
What you do is, lace the shoe up as you normally would from the inside of the lace loops, and once you reach the top eyelet, drive the laces through from the opposite side, creating a ‘bunny ear’ out of your laces at the top. Cross the laces together and then lace ’em up your usual way.
This actually works great the times I’ve tried it out, especially for shoes that have a bit of unwanted room for my size. The extra pressure coming from the top portion can drive the heel even further back once lace pressure is applied.
III. TOO MUCH ROOM WIDTH-WISE OR HEIGHT-WISE
Due to the shape of your ankle/heel OR the shoe’s heel portion sculpting, there might be a bit too much room over there, and even though you’d apply some things to ensure minimal heel slippage, having too much unwanted room is almost always the dealbreaker.
While this is happening less from what I’m noticing in today’s shoe market, you can still come across sneakers with clunky heels that don’t sit right for some foot shapes.
THE FIX #1: SLAP ON TWO PAIRS OF SOCKS
The main way to tackle this issue without switching your shoes is to minimize the unwanted space inside. The quickest way to do that would be the double-sock route. Slap on two pairs of socks and that should take out some unwanted room, and possibly improve lockdown.
THE FIX #2: INSERT AN AFTERMARKET INSOLE
If the double-sock method isn’t quite doing it for you, I’d recommend looking into aftermarket insoles you can get that are designed specifically for athletic footwear. Those can eliminate even more dead space inside the shoe and also add to your cushion, or even support.
I’d encourage you to do a bit of research before getting one, as insoles can serve different purposes depending on what you require. For a heel slip scenario, I’d recommend starting with an insole that doesn’t have a dramatic heel-to-toe offset. Opt for a flatter one.
Here’s my recommended aftermarket insole list
IV. YOUR SHOE HAS A SLIPPERY INSOLE
Yes ladies and gentlemen, shoe brands still put out sneakers with built-in insoles that have a slippery finish and some don’t quite mesh well with the materials of most performance socks. Thus causing slips in the heel.
I don’t honestly know how stuff like this passes through the wear testing phases inside Nike HQ or anywhere else but something to watch out for.
THE FIX: GET GRIPPY PERFORMANCE SOCKS FOR THE JOB
Besides aftermarket insoles, I recommend getting yourself some grippy performance socks that would provide more friction against the insole. There are a few brands that actually make socks just for that reason, to achieve more grip inside the shoe.
V. YOUR SHOE HAS SLIPPERY HEEL LINING
Just as the insole scenario, a very similar occurrence is also still happening today, and that is slippery lining around your ankle & heel areas. Certain fabrics the brands use cause the heel to be all over the place since it can’t catch any proper texture back there.
THE FIX: TRY HEEL GRIPPERS
A nifty little solution I’ve come across are heel grippers. I did try them but never found a good reason to use ’em since I switch shoes so much. But people do report success in their hoop shoes.
You can grab these heel grippers at usual places like Amazon. These are thin pieces of flexible material that you apply and mold around the heel portion of the shoe as a sticker. This creates more grip with your heel and can help catch it in case it wants to slip out.
All the ones I find online seem to generally be for dress shoes or non-athletic footwear. Because of this, I’ve seen users report feedback on these heel grippers peeling off once there’s enough hot moisture in the area that builds up from the friction while playing.
It’s still a decent solution for a shorter session, and perhaps on a cooler day. Being careful with these is needed if you don’t want to replace ’em so often.
VI. YOU HAVE PLANTAR FASCIITIS (FLAT FEET)
A fairly common condition is plantar fasciitis – one’s foot not having enough of an arch. So in other words, flat feet. This can cause a slew of issues for your foot health, biomechanics, general discomfort & pain (VERY commonly heel pain), and performance on the court.
But since basketball shoes aren’t built specifically for flat footers, this condition can result in an altered fit compared to a healthy foot.
Yes, including possible heel slippage. Especially for shoes that have sculpting similar to how a runner sneaker is built: minimal platform underfoot, and commonly a clear offset from heel to toe.
THE FIX: CONSULT WITH A PODIATRIST & SHOVE A SUPPORTIVE, CUSHIONED INSOLE
There’s no quick fix for a flat foot – plantar fasciitis is a condition, and its more severe forms do require professional advice from a podiatrist. Most forms of plantar fasciitis will require you to perform corrective exercises to stretch the muscles & tendons of your arch as well as other key areas of the foot.
If you’re able to function and play basketball while having flat feet and you do not need professional treatment, make sure to wear well-cushioned shoes that have a flatter platform & provide excellent torsional support. Here’s a flat footer’s shoe list.
If your shoe doesn’t meet the criteria, and you’re not looking to get a new pair, you can get an earlier-mentioned performance insole that would knock out two birds with one stone: provide a bit of extra cushion as well as improve overall support & torsional rigidity.
No aftermarket insole will offer an amount of those qualities the way a good shoe would but it’s a worthy idea to think about if you don’t experience severe plantar fasciitis.
VII. YOU HAVE CAVUS FOOT (HIGH ARCHES)
Opposite from plantar fasciitis, cavus foot means you’ve got a foot with overly high arches. This puts your heel & the balls of your foot under too much strain, causing all kinds of issues. Severe forms of cavus foot can even result in having trouble walking.
THE FIX: CONSULT WITH A PODIATRIST FOR ADVICE
Generally, this a more unfortunate case as a treatment for cavus foot usually means surgery. Followed by it, there are orthotic solutions you’ll need to wear in your shoes, as well as perform corrective work to get your feet healthy.
If you’re able to function and play basketball with such a condition, the most you can do to minimize heel slippage is to use the other methods I’ve mentioned above, depending on possible correlating causes. Also wear supportive, well-structured shoes to compensate for your foot’s impaired stability.
If you can’t get a new shoe, grab a supportive performance insole. Those will usually run you about a third of an average basketball shoe.
ANTI-HEEL SLIPPAGE PLAN OF ATTACK FOR YOUR NEXT SHOE
Some things to look at to combat possible heel slip scenarios FOR YOUR FUTURE SHOES
Aside from the possibility of my foot being incompatible with the way a shoe is built, sometimes the sizing can be off and my usual size choice turns out not to be the best one. Being a wide footer myself, the situation gets EXPLOSIVE at times.
And this definitely can happen for all of us. So my first tip is the most obvious, but one that I still need to mention before ANYTHING ELSE…
I. GET THE SIZE RIGHT & BREAK IT IN
Yes, make sure that you’ve got the correct size for THAT particular sneaker even if that means a half size up or down from your usual choice.
Examples you should be aware of are modern adidas hoop shoes. Ever since back in the 2014-2015 days, the guys at the Three Stripes are, quite literally, regularly putting out shoes that fit long for most people in their typical sizes.
There’s even a thing, ‘your adidas size’ among the sneakerheads as your size that you usually choose is different from the size you’re comfortable with in an adidas sneaker. Be aware of this if you’ve got an adidas shoe right now or looking to get one, as you might need to go a half size down for your next silhouette.
Another example is shoes from Chinese brands such as Li-Ning or ANTA. If you’re familiar with those or possibly have a pair, these are made with the Chinese audience in mind, and having a wider foot is the standard there, compared to our norms.
If you don’t have a wide foot and aiming to get one of the Chinese-brand kicks, you might need to step down in size to compensate. If available, I recommend checking out shoe reviews of those before getting ’em.
II. AIM FOR SHOES WITH PROPER HEEL NOTCHES
That’s right. Those little pillows that hug your heel/achilles area can be essential when ensuring proper heel lockdown, as well as comfort. While I did play in shoes that felt fine even without proper heel notches, it all depends on many different factors.
More often than not, you’ll want to make sure there’s something at the back to cup your heel & catch it in case it wants to lift up. A good portion of hoop shoes today offer some sort of notches/pillows for your heel to ensure security but there are still shoes being released that don’t have ’em.
III. AVOID SLIPPERY FINISHES AROUND THE HEEL
This goes right along the heel notches – make sure that the actual finish of the material around your ankle isn’t overly slippery. This can sometimes be a make-or-break situation. You can do everything correctly but if there’s not enough friction at the back – your sock WILL start sliding around the back and it’s game over.
This one’s a little trickier to spot if you’re looking for a new pair online but that’s where dedicated shoe reviews & user feedback on retailer sites come in. Make sure to check ’em out for your desired shoe, if available.
If not, avoid shoes with a glossy finish around the ankle & heel. This isn’t always a guarantee but this often means the manufacturers layered a finish around that portion and glossy finishes usually mean a smooth synthetic fabric is used. Such finishes tend to be slippery.
Also, try to avoid synthetic/genuine leather lining around your ankle/heel. While it can be a nice premium touch to the shoe, a leather surface is usually pretty slippery, especially when coming in contact with fabric-based performance socks. Or any socks for that matter.
IV. ROCKING LOWS? TRY A HIGHER CUT SHOE
While this isn’t proven by me in any way, I did have a few personal experiences in the past that resulted in having common heel slippage while in low tops. I was never a fan of low tops back in the day, but I’ve grown to like them a lot in recent years, and I’m not having such issues that I’d notice repeating mainly on lows.
However, I’m not the only one who had similar occurrences, so if you’re rocking low tops right now, it never hurts to give it a shot and try some mid-tops or opt for a slightly higher-cut low silhouette. This will ensure a bit more material at the back portion in case your current setup doesn’t offer proper containment for the heel.
Of course, regardless of the cut of the shoe, look for one with a grippier lining around the ankle area, as well as proper heel notches at the back as mentioned above.
V. LOOK FOR A FLATTER PLATFORM
A large offset between the heel and forefoot portions of the shoe means your foot is slightly elevated at the back and then shifts down near the front. This is becoming the norm for basketball shoes as they resemble the sculpting of a runner sneaker more and more.
However, for someone who’s experiencing heel slippage, this might be something to avoid when getting a new sneaker. Look for shoes with a flatter platform with less of an offset from heel to toe and of course, check shoe reviews in case someone reports on possible heel slippage/fit issues.
Why? If your foot doesn’t fit such a shoe near-perfectly, it might start sliding front and back since there’s a bit of room inside and the elevation at the back is causing the foot to drop on certain movements. Thus, heel slippage.
I’ve had this happen for a pair of Curry 8’s. While I absolutely LOVE hooping in those, my toes take a beating after a longer session due to all those toe bumps to the front. The Curry 8 sports a very runner-like build and its curvature caused my foot to slightly move around on more aggressive movements.
I’m not saying ALL shoes with such sculpting result in heel slippage, what I’m saying is if you’re not finding the reason behind your heel nightmares, this is another factor to take in.
VI. A BUILT-IN TEXTURED INSOLE IS A GOOD BONUS
Not a lot of kicks offer this but I did see a few modern examples. Some shoes come with an insole that spots a textured/grippier surface solely for the purpose of eliminating slippage inside the shoe. Other times, shoes with drop-in midsoles such as stuff the Kobe line can also offer additional grip from the midsole’s textured finish.
I’ve had a couple of kicks that have this and it was pretty damn cool. Can even be a game-changer if other areas present no issues.
Example shoe with a grippy midsole: Nike Kobe A.D. NXT 360
VII. AIM FOR A BOOTIE CONSTRUCTION
In case you’re not familiar with the concept, a lot of athletic shoes, including ball shoes today, utilize a ‘bootie’ construction, meaning that the whole upper, including the tongue, is stitched together and acts as one single piece.
This creates a very secure feel inside the shoe and often helps improve the overall fit since there are fewer moving parts. Everything feels sturdier and you can even feel your foot being nicely cradled within the material.
I gotta say, I don’t remember a particular time where a one-bootie or a half-bootie shoe caused heel slippage for me. Might be a coincidence but if you’re open to trying things out, a bootie-based shoe can definitely improve the way your foot sits inside, and with that comes reduced heel slippage.
VIII. HAVE FLAT FEET? YOU NEED TORSIONAL SUPPORT
If you experience any level of plantar fasciitis (flat feet), besides the other factors above, you also need to make sure your shoes for the job are well-cushioned, supportive, and offer proper rigidity torsionally. Aim for a flatter platform that would go more in line with your foot shape as well.
Seeking out such a shoe will help minimize the suffering flat footers go through – discomfort, pain, altered biomechanics, and foot fatigue. And of course – the better the shoe resembles your foot anatomy, the fewer chances you’ll have of heel slippage & a sloppy fit in general.
Here’s a regularly-updated list of the best shoes for flat feet
MY CURRENT FAVORITE SHOES FOR THE JOB
The 3 basketball shoes I’ve recently played in that I currently think would do a good overall job of ensuring less-to-no heel slippage
Look, it’s not always possible to meet ALL the criteria I’ve talked about above and find the perfect shoe that resembles it all on paper. However, having tried a lot of hoop shoes myself, let me pick out a few models that I believe would do an excellent job of ensuring minimal-to-no heel slippage.
Remember, this doesn’t mean each shoe will 100% work for EVERYONE. Your foot anatomy, your build, and the way you move will always be factors that can throw you off.
Keep your head up though – I’m sure that there’s something here for most, or if you’re planning to grab a new sneaker in the future on your own, you know a few tactics of how to eliminate heel slippage as well!
I. LI-NING WAY OF WADE 8
FULL REVIEW 🏆 8.5 💰 $225
If you’re talkin’ overall security, you’re talkin’ Way Of Wade 8. Dwayne Wayde’s 8th signature sneaker from the Chinese brand Li-Ning looks AND plays like it’s packing absolutely everything it could’ve.
While one can never guarantee a shoe will be perfect for everyone, I firmly believe the WoW 8 is as close to a perfect balance between security & overall fit/comfort as it gets.
Looking like a damn spaceship, the WoW 8 is packing a Cordura’s Nylon upper that’s extremely well-structured but also molded to my foot and gave me no headaches.
It’s also got a massive heel piece that extends all the way out to the midfoot portion, a raised mid-top collar that sits to the back of your heel, and a very nice large achilles pillow inside. The shoe has a moderately flat & wide platform, excellent torsional support thanks to a carbon fiber shank plate, as well as a very secure fit overall.
This one’s slightly on the heavier side and the super beefy setup will feel a little stiff & clunky but once you give these enough playing time – the upper, midsole and the shank plate will break in. I was feeling optimal within 1-2 weeks.
Also, most people will want to go down half a size for these as they fit a lot of people long. For wide footers like myself, I’d suggest sticking to your true size.
The amount of length I’ve got for my toes was never enough to compromise security or cause heel slippage, and that speaks for the excellent, well-thought-of job the designers have done.
II. ADIDAS DAME 5
FULL REVIEW 🏆 9.4 💰 $115
Still in my bag several years later, the Dame 5 is simply a tank that delivers it all for me, as well as packs some serious durability, even for rugged blacktop action all season long. I liked the Dame 7, sure, (not a fan of the 6 though) but the 5 is what still gets banged up in the park the most. Respect the Dame line!
The shoe fits me really well with no distractions, no gimmicks, or stuff I’d need to think about while playing. A sturdy mid-top build with my heel & achilles being very nicely hugged, a balanced upper utilizing a mix of mesh at the front & synthetic nubuck at the back.
It provided comfort and never got in my way, but it also contained my foot perfectly, as well provided all the support I can get, paired with adidas’s usual slew of support components that work really well with one another.
As per usual with adidas, most of you should go down half a size since the shoe leaves most regular/narrow footers with space at the front. So for that near one-to-one fit, step a half size down.
For wide footers, you have a couple of options but I went true to size and the shoe feels great. A bit of wiggle room at the front but just enough to make sure I’m not bumping into the toebox and I never experienced heel slippage. That thing is locked at the back like clockwork.
III. UNDER ARMOUR EMBIID ONE
FULL REVIEW 🏆 8.3 💰 $120
The unstoppable Joel Embiid launched his first signature shoe with Under Armour and unlike quite a bit of signature debuts, this one didn’t fully seem to go with ‘safe’ or ‘feeling out’ routes.
I found the Embiid One to be a very nice package that’s versatile, packs UA’s comfy tech while not breaking the bank, and should fit most feet well.
Tall or compact, wide or narrow, most foot shapes will enjoy the Embiid One because of its minimal mesh upper that’s strategically reinforced with TPU wings laterally as well as several Fuse panels on high-wear areas. Comfort, security, and staying light on your feet – it’s all here.
The ankle collar sports a traditional mid-top design with very nice padding around the ankle – my heel was in place 24/7 in there. No issues length-wise or width-wise. The shoe feels just right for a frontcourt player like Embiid himself but it’s got the sculpting & several other details that also make it appealing to guards or wings.
Most people, including wide footers, will be a-okay with their true size. Expect a snug, secure fit. Since I’ve got some seriously wide feet, the TPU wings that handle lateral movements pressed into my feet for the first 1-2 weeks, causing some discomfort at times but once I broke ’em in – no issues there.
YOUR SHOE KNOWLEDGE DOESN’T STOP HERE!
More ESSENTIAL topics to know about & many awesome shoe rotations waiting
Well done! You’re now acclimated with the ultimate phenomenon of heel slippage. You know what mainly causes it, how to fix it, and what to look for when getting a new hoop shoe.
However, this doesn’t mean you’re stopping here.
I’ve got PLENTY of practical guides such as this one, doing my best to inform you and give back to the fellow hoopers & sneaker fans out there! You don’t always have to guess, arm yourself with some knowledge and put yourself in the position of making better-informed decisions!
Most of those guides also come with regularly revamped, optimized shoe lists so you’ll have some actual options along with the facts.
Check out some of those that go in-tune with this one below:
SHOW ME ALL YOUR: SHOE LISTS | GUIDES
Thanks for staying with me ’till the end! I truly hope you found the guide useful for your future anti-heel slippage endeavors.
As always, I’m SUPER excited to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Have you tried my recommended shoes and feel different about them? Perhaps you still have a question I haven’t answered in the guide?
Let me know!