Floor Maintenance: Should Street Shoes Be Allowed or Not? Part 1

Floor Maintenance: Should Street Shoes Be Allowed or Not? Part 1

Some people (athletes, parents and coaches alike) wonder why facility managers are so picky about street shoes being worn or used on the court.  What’s the big deal, a court is just a floor and shoes are meant to walk on floors, aren’t they?

Well yes, but courts are a special type of flooring.  Court floors are used by athletes running up and down the court as fast as they can making starts and stops to elude their defenders.  In order to do this effectively, you need TRACTION.  Traction is important not just at the beginning of the game but throughout the entire game.  For athletes to get good, consistent, predictable traction on an indoor court they need a combination of:

  1. clean shoe soles that are made of “grippy” materials that have as much CLEAN surface area as possible allowing it to make contact with
  2. a clean, smooth, dry, hard floor.

That may sound simple but quite a few conditions need to be met to create this perfect scenario:

  • Premium athletic shoes, with good high-friction material on the soles

    New shoes worn  outside for 5 minutes

    Brand new shoes worn outside for 5 minutes

  • Sufficient shoe sole surface area free of particulates to provide adequate friction to resist the athlete’s lateral (along the floor in this case) inertia
  • A hard floor that is:
    • Clean (or relatively free of loose surface particulates —for example: gravel, dirt, dust, skin particles, smoke particles, etc.)
    • Dry
    • Properly finished with a high quality finish (for example: clean, synthetic floor or clean, smooth hardwood without slippery wax build up)

In many cases neither athletes, nor the coaching staff have much control over how clean the floor happens to be at game-time.  The reasons vary from inaccessibility to floor maintenance equipment, such as mops, courtcleans to just plain — “no time!”  Luckily traction can still be easily attained by combining the shoe soles and floor cleanliness, the operative word in that sentence is “combining.” Just think of the combination as a formula:

Floor cleanliness + Shoe  sole cleanliness = (varying degrees of) Traction

Better traction is what you get when you use clean shoes soles on relatively clean floors.  While you may not always be able to exercise any direct control on the floor maintenance/cleaning schedule, teams can still influence how much traction their athlete’s shoes provide them.  Take an active role in how clean the athlete’s shoe soles are throughout the game by using Slipp-Nott traction mats.

By providing Slipp-Nott traction mats on the sidelines for athletes to step on before checking into a volleyball or basketball game, teams will actually be be cleaning the floor as they clean the athletic shoe soles!  How is this possible you might be wondering?  Well, once an athlete steps onto the court with a clean, naturally sticky (squeaky) rubber sole, the athlete will have the best traction available to him on that court at that specific time.  The surface particulates will also dislodge from the floor and stick to the shoe sole, depending on how dirty the floor is and how naturally sticky the shoe soles grab the floor (or the dirt!)

In addition to improved indoor traction, you will be indirectly contributing to floor cleanliness and oddly enough become a source of passive floor surface maintenance!  In our next post “Floor Maintenance: Should Street Shoes Be Allowed or Not? Part 2,” we’ll explain why and how.  In the meantime, take a look at these images:

typical dirt and grit on athletic shoe sole

typical dirt and grit on athletic shoe sole

Surface of a Slipp-Nott adhesive mat showing the dirt and grit removed from shoe sole

Surface of a Slipp-Nott adhesive mat showing the dirt and grit removed from shoe sole

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