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Do you remember the first time you played in your favorite Kobe kicks?
It was amazing, right?
The soles were so thick and bouncy, and they provided excellent traction on the court.
But now, months later, those same shoes are giving up on you.
The rubber is wearing, and the fabric is starting to come apart.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
In fact, according to a recent ESPN poll, most players retire their shoes after just nine months of use!
What is going on?
Today, we will answer the question: how long do basketball shoes last?
Generally, basketball shoes last about 3.5 months before they need replacing. But that depends on multiple factors.
While we’re at it, we’ll also give you some tips on making them last even longer.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
How often should I replace my basketball shoes?
This depends on several factors. Let’s explore them one by one.
Dr. Weaver is a published doctor from NBA.com. She recommends that you look at replacing your shoes after 75 to 100 hours of use.
Shoes are causing you injuries, aches, or pains
Additionally, you should also replace your shoes if you feel aches or pains, especially if you suffer from bad knees. For example, if you have narrow feet but wearing inappropriate shoes. If that’s the case, check out our article on the top basketball shoes for narrow feet in 2022.
That’s a no-brainer, right?
Let’s consider some other important factors.
Factors that affect how often you need to replace your shoes
Of course, different variables go into the equation of how often you will need to replace your shoes. Your habits and playing conditions will all play a role in determining how quickly you should replace your sneakers.
If you’re a serious player who goes to the gym four times a week to train for hours on end, you’re going to wear down your shoes faster than someone who plays on the weekends.
If you play outdoors in harsher conditions, you’ll need to get new shoes more often than someone who plays in played in sunny weather all year long.
Other factors such as your body weight have a role in how long your basketball shoes last.
For example, bigger or bulkier players tend to break down their sneakers faster than smaller individuals due to the extra pounds on each step and cut.
Zion Williamson (275 lbs) exploded through his shoe during his career at Duke University as he drove to the rim.
He (and Nike) both made headlines for his torn sneaker and resulting foot injury.
When you wear your shoes, the arches of your feet shift to accommodate your weight and movement.
Wearers will either have flat or high-arched feet, depending on how much support you need. When people with higher arches take a step, their feet tend to roll inwards. This is called pronation. People with flat arches will have their feet roll outwards instead, called supination.
Both are normal, but you need to ensure that your shoe provides the level of arch support you need.
While the shape of your foot may be unique, there are certain trends that you will notice in terms of wear.
Overpronators might see more heel chipping and cracking towards their middle section. In addition, their shoes will experience an inward tilt when placed on flat surfaces.
For underpronators and supinators will experience extra wear along the edge of the heel.
Suggested read: The Absolute Best Basketball Shoes For Volleyball Revealed
Your position will also determine how quickly you wear out your shoes.
If you’re a point guard, your shoes will wear down much faster than if you play center.
This is because point guards take more steps in a game and go faster than anyone else on the team.
Guards also play more explosively, make sharp cuts and jump a lot, and the soles will wear more quickly.
Centers tend to stay in one place more often than not, so they want to use as much energy to break down their sneakers.
If you spend most of your time playing on hardwood courts, you’ll need new shoes less often than someone who spends a lot of time on concrete or dirt courts. That’s because hardwood courts are less abrasive to your shoes.
How do you know when basketball shoes are worn out?
Look at the tread
The first way to know that you need to replace your shoe is when the tread (bottom) starts wearing out. At one point, you will notice there is no more thickness left.
Keep in mind, rubber is more robust than foam. So if the rubber is worn, the foam in the midsole and uppers have lost their integrity.
When playing basketball without any grip on your shoe, it is tough for the player to maintain contact with the floor. In addition, a loss of grip leads to issues like knee hyperextension and Achilles tendonitis, which are all very painful!
Creasing in the midsole
The second way to tell if your shoe needs replacing is when you see creasing on the midsole. When you see diagonal and vertical lines that go through the midsole, it’s time to get a new pair of shoes.
You can also feel the creasing by pressing your thumb on the inside of the midsole and pushing it down. Creased shoes will not provide as much impact resistance as new ones, increasing the odds of injuries!
When the midsole collapses, it usually doesn’t have any more elasticity. A loss of elasticity is more likely to cause injuries like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain.
The midsole is also responsible for adding height to basketball players.
The third way to tell if your shoes need replacing is by calculating the total mileage. Most sneakers only last for 500 miles, so during one basketball game, you’ll typically be running 2+ Miles.
This method is rather laborious and is not as accurate as the other two methods.
Also, your midsole will likely crease before this amount of use!
If the upper is ripping, it’s probably time to replace your kicks. A rip in the upper of a shoe can be one of the worst things that can happen to your game.
The upper is what holds your foot tight and secure inside, so if it’s ripped, you’ll have no support for your foot.
Plus, shoes with rips are also worn out on the inside and will wear down sooner than they should.
So when something happens to your uppers—such as rips, abrasions, or breakage—it’s time to replace your shoes. Then, check out some popular models below 50 bucks, as well as some others for under $150.
A severely damaged heel indicates it’s time to replace your shoes. If you’re a basketball player, you know that having a damaged heel on your shoe can affect your performance. That’s because the heel is critical for overall lockdown.
Without a functional heel, it’s challenging to move around the court and can even lead to ankle sprains.
How long Your basketball shoes Can last Outside
Playing outdoor basketball wears down your shoes faster than playing indoors. The concrete court and hard surface cause more abrasion and friction, which leads to quicker rubber deterioration and less traction.
The constant pounding of your feet on the ground also accelerates the aging process of the shoes. So if you want your shoes to last as long as possible, try to stick to playing indoors.
How long do basketball sneakers last indoors?
Playing indoors does affect how long your basketball shoes last. However, it’s the least harmful to your basketball shoes.
Hardwood courts are not too bad for your basketball shoes, but it can wear them out over time. In addition, indoor basketball courts often have cork floors, considered softer than hardwood.
On the other hand, playing on a concrete court (usually found outdoors) is the worst surface to play on with your basketball shoes. In addition, concrete wears down the soles of tennis shoes very quickly, so you should change your shoes after playing on concrete.
As an example, most Jordans for wide feet are super durable and suitable for playing both indoors and outdoors.
How About If You Don’t Wear Your Basketball Shoes?
Today’s sneakers are a mix between leather and synthetic mesh. Over time, the material will begin to crumble – even if you keep your box set upstairs in perfect condition!
The midsole foam will harden, and the cushioning will deteriorate dramatically after five to ten years. They will be unusable after 20-25 years (and potentially before then).
Do basketball shoes wear out?
Yes, absolutely. When they do wear out, they can severely affect your performance. Basketball shoes need to have a lot of traction to don’t slip and fall when playing. That’s why they tend to be a bit heavier than tennis shoes.
Most of them will wear out within about six months to a year. Of course, it all depends on how often you play and what type of shoe it is, but most high-quality sneakers should last at least that long.
How to make basketball shoes last longer
You can follow some good practices to keep your basketball shoes lasting longer.
Clean your shoes
First off, we will start with a unique cleaning technique to enhance the longevity of your grip.
- Rinse away as much dust as possible by running water over the soles
- Use a wet cloth to get rid of the rest of the dust. Make sure to wet the whole sole and to wipe the outsole regularly.
- Put handsoap on the rag, begin scrubbing the soles
- Use a toothbrush to work the soap into the treads
- Rinse the soap out of the rag and wipe the soap off the soles
- Use a dry paper towel to finish the drying process. Make sure there is no water left on the soles!
- Clean and dry the tip of your toothbrush
- Smear a fingerful of vaseline around the sole and spread it with the toothbrush
- Enjoy your freshly gripped shoes! Don’t skip this process, or you will lose your grip on your shoes.
- Rotate out old shoes
Rotate your shoes
Try to rotate between two or three different pairs of shoes so that they all have an equal chance to break down evenly.
Most basketball players wear out their shoes declaratively, meaning that they don’t have much tread left on them when they notice. This is not good for your feet, ankles, or knees because it leads to slippage and loss of balance.
By diversifying your shoes, you can delay this breakdown from happening sooner and keep yourself safe.
Buy new shoes
You should replace your shoes every six months to a year, depending on how often you play and what type of shoe it is. If the tread has worn down, they will not grip as well, and you could cause an injury to yourself or your opponent.
Always wipe off excess dirt or mud immediately after playing outside to not become ground in. This will help prevent any excessive wearing down on the bottom of the shoe.
Don’t play on concrete
You shouldn’t play on concrete in basketball shoes. It will accelerate the deterioration. In addition, the concrete will wear down the soles of your kicks shoes and they will eventually wear out.
Store them in a cool, dry place
For example, you can use a shoehorn to get your foot in the shoes. This reduces abrasion by removing creases and helps maintain the structure of the heel and upper.
How to select basketball shoes that last long
Multidirectional Traction Pattern
The traction pattern is the rubber’s design determines how gripping a shoe is.
Traction is essential for players because it allows them to move quickly and change direction without slipping.
Multidirectional traction patterns also help players stop quickly and change direction without losing balance.
Multidirectional traction patterns also hold up over time and don’t peel off easily.
The cushion uses a polymer to provide impact resistance. Impact protection is essential for keeping feet comfortable even after extended periods of play.
A stiffer foam will last longer than a softer one because it can withstand more impacts before breaking down.
High-density cushioning that’s stiffer will last longer, but the foam should also be flexible enough to let still feet bend.
Select hard soles
The most durable component of basketball shoes is the rubber sole. It protects the shoe from wear and tear and extends the shoe’s life.
How long do NBA players wear their shoes?
NBA players wear their basketball shoes for a combined total of about 250 hours per season.
Players who play more than 30 minutes in a game typically wear the same pair for two games to give them time to recover and dry out, or they will rotate pairs.
NBA players rotate shoes so often because it gives them a chance to dry out and recover. However, extended periods of use can cause the shoes to become too wet and lead to bacteria growth. Rotating shoes also allow players to wear different pairs and test new technologies.