Basketball Traction Mats
The squeak of sneakers on the court is one of the most recognizable sounds of basketball. It's the sound of not just a good game, but good traction: a solid grip between the polished floor and a clean pair of shoes. Traction mats allow for this by keeping players' sneakers and the court free of dirt which may otherwise cause slips.
What are traction mats used for?
Traction mats, more informally called sticky mats, are mats with a sticky surface which remove dirt, oil, or grime from the soles of a player's shoes. Rather than having to spray and wipe down their shoes before getting into the game, players can step on the mat and head out to the court within seconds. They're not used on outdoor courts or in most casual pickup games, but organized leagues use them in competitive settings.
Good traction between one's shoes and the polished court is key to allowing players uninhibited footwork. With a dirty court, players are more inclined to slip if they try making more finessed or aggressive moves especially. You'll see officials cleaning the floor continually throughout a competitive game to ensure no sweat or dirt hampers a team's ability to play.
Things To Consider
When looking for a traction mat, you'll want to consider the following:
- What size traction mat do you need?
- How long do you want the mat to last?
- How much do you want to spend on a traction mat?
- How many players will be using the traction mat?
Traction mats come in gel or peel-away sheet form.
Gel traction mats are a newer form of mat which can be washed off and reused rather than replaced periodically. A quick wipedown with soapy water will remove loose dirt, while an alcohol rub removes oil or greasy residue. A high-quality mat is stickier than the traditional peel-away sheet mat.
Traction mats with peel-away sheets consist of an adhesive sheet atop a usually plastic base with rubber grips on the underside. Once the disposable adhesive sheet is soiled, it's discarded and replaced. Players will usually go through several sheets a game. They were the first form of traction mat and have been key to countless players for good grip of the court.
Traction mats come in a variety of materials which suit different needs of individual players.
- Gel: The gel material in gel traction mats are a newer technology designed to keep its stickiness over a long period of time. It can be washed with soap, water, and alcohol-based cleaners once soiled.
- Polyethylene: Polyethylene comprises the base of the disposable sticky sheet which the sticky coating goes on top of.
- Rubber: Traction mats have a rubber underside to grip the floor and prevent the mat from moving as they're stepped on.
Traction mats are a fairly common accessory which can be purchased from many major sporting brands.
- DICK's Sporting Goods: DICK's offers affordable and reliable peel-away sheet mats as well as replacement pads to fit them.
- Slipp-Nott: Slipp-Nott's traction mats were the first ever made, and they continue to be some of the best quality. While expensive, their peel-away sheet mats keep their stickiness especially well, requiring significantly fewer changes than most other brands.
- StepNGrip: StepNGrip offers good quality options for both gel traction mats and peel-away sheet mats.
Traction mats come in a variety of forms and price ranges to best suit a player's individual needs.
While gel mats are washed and reused, peel-away traction mats use disposable adhesive sheets. Basketball players will on average go through 4 to 6 peel-away sheets in a game, while a gel mat will need several cleanings. Good quality gel mats can last for several years before losing their grip, although courts that are not well cleaned may cause them to wear faster.
Gel mats are the most expensive upon initial purchase, costing on average from $60 to $100. Traction mats with peel-away sheets usually cost around $30 to $60 depending on how many sticky sheets are included. Replacement pads cost around $50 for 100 sheets and are usually more affordable when bought in bulk. Luxury brands of either type can cost well over $100.
Traction mats come in sizes suited to both teams and individual players. Individual mats, sometimes called minis, might be around 15" by 18". The largest mats meant for a whole team are around 36" by 45". Some mats meant for smaller groups of players are roughly between the largest and smallest, around 24" by 36".
What are the best basketball traction mats?
How much does a traction mat cost?
At $60 to $100, gel mats are generally more expensive than peel-away sheet mats, which tend to price around $30 to $60 depending on how many sheets are included. Replacement pads cost around $50 for 100 sheets. A high-quality gel mat is a worthwhile investment for someone who's especially active, as it will keep its grip for years without the added cost of replacement sheets.
What are the kinds of traction mats?
The main kinds of traction mats are gel mats and peel-away sheet mats. Gel mats are reusable and are washed with soapy water for dirt or dust or an alcohol rub for oilier substances once they're soiled. Peel-away sheet mats use disposable sticky sheets to remove dirt and oil, and once they're soiled they are simply peeled off and replaced.