How to Break in Basketball Shoes: 7 Easy Steps to Break in Shoes Fast!

So you bought a pair of new basketball shoes and are ready to hit the hardwood.

But hold on.

Something doesn’t seem right. You put on the new basketball shoes, played with them in practice or in a few pickup games, and now your feet are full of blisters… What’s the deal?

While it’s tempting to take the shoes right out of the box and play in them right away, you need to break in those new basketball sneakers to avoid destroying your feet.

Trust me, I’ve been there and learned the hard way how important it is to break in new basketball shoes.

Luckily, I know the best way to break in your new pair of basketball shoes, my young padawan.

It’s as easy as doubling up on socks, wearing the shoes around the house for a few hours, or using a shoe stretcher to add some room to the toe box.

You may even be thinking, can new basketball shoes loosen up?

In this post, I’ll run through a step-by-step process on how to break in basketball shoes so you can get on the court as soon as possible.

If you find yourself with foot pain, make sure to pick up a pair of the best basketball shoes for plantar fasciitis!

What Does It Mean to Break in New Basketball Shoes?

Unfortunately, we, as human beings, have yet to come up with a process that allows for custom-fit shoes. Shoes are manufactured in different sizes of feet, and that’s all. This manufacturing doesn’t account for the uniqueness of each individual person’s foot, and how could it?

It’s up to the purchaser to learn the best way to break in basketball shoes and go through the necessary steps to conform the new basketball shoes to his or her foot. (My guys who need wide basketball shoes know this story all too well.)

Breaking in new basketball shoes means that we are molding and contorting past the manufacturing stage so that they fit our fit in a bit more customized way. There’s a quick and easy break in process to do this, so you can actually start playing basketball.

Reasons You Need to Know the Best Way to Break in Basketball Shoes

Lacing up a pair of new basketball shoes and playing in them right away can cause problems. There’s blistering, the possibility of warts, callused skin, and of course, we don’t want our feet to look like Shaq’s, do we? (viewer discretion advised)

It’s a simple process to break in your pair of new basketball sneakers, and in so doing, we avoid all of the problems listed above and have a more enjoyable experience with our new shoes on the court.

Step-by-Step Instructions On How To Break In Basketball Shoes Quickly

1. Ahh, Push It

The first step of how to break in new basketball shoes is to put the shoes on and evaluate them.

Can you identify which parts of the new shoes are a bit snug? Take note of where there’s tightness in those basketball shoes, and then take them off.

Before you reach for the shoe stretcher, go ahead and stick your hand in the shoes and push on the different areas where they feel tight on your foot. Put them on again and repeat the process a handful of times.

2. Size Matters

Whether they’re low-top basketball shoes or high-top basketball shoes, if your basketball shoes hurt, you need to make sure you have the right size. It’s scientifically proven that some people’s feet continue to grow to age 20 or 21. If you ordered your new basketball shoes online in the same size you always get, it could be possible that your feet have grown a little bit and that you’ll need to size up.

Any shoe department will be able to give you an idea if this is the case. Of course, no one wants you to have to wear tight shoes if you don’t have to. If they still say you have the right size basketball sneakers, then maybe the company runs a size small. Grab some new shoes half a size or a size bigger if needed.

3. Double-Up On Socks

Throw on a couple of pairs of socks, or wear thick socks with your new shoes to help stretch them out a bit if they’re too tight.

This is something you can do throughout the life of the shoe if they’re a little big and you need to fill them out. Making sure they’re tied tight is another thing to make sure they’re snug. Blisters most often occur when your foot rubs against the insole of the shoe during play.

This is also a good tip on how to make shoes not smell for all you hoopers out there with stinky feet!

4. Wear Them Around The House

Put those beautiful new basketball shoes on at home, lace them up comfortably – not too tight – and walk around the house. Maybe even throw on a pair of thick socks.

When I get new basketball shoes, I often keep them on for as long as possible. If I’m not doing much at home, I’ll break in new basketball shoes while eating dinner, watching TV, or reading (cause I is smart).

I’ll do this a couple of days in a row. Sometimes I go a bit overboard, so I’d say do it for an hour, and that is plenty. There’s no need to wear your basketball shoes overnight. Try expanding your pinky toe when you have your new shoes on as well.

5. Do Some Light Activities

Go shoot some hoops at the gym, go for a walk on the treadmill (avoid walking on concrete or gravel to expand the life of the new shoes), or walk up and down the stairs at home.

Do this for a couple or three sessions until they feel a bit more formed. 30 minutes of activity each time will do. Thick socks can help with this as well.

6. Shoe Stretcher Time

If you’ve tried the above steps and they still don’t feel better, go with a shoe stretcher. These are especially good for ballers with wide feet.

Shoe stretchers aren’t the only way, either. Get creative. When I was a kid, I remember my brother used Lincoln Logs as his homemade shoe stretcher to stretch out the toe box for a more comfortable shoe fit.


You CANNOT stretch a regular shoe to contort to your wide foot. Sorry, Charlie.

7. Get Buckets And Evaluate

Time to get those basketball shoes on the court and do some damage. Participate in your routine basketball drills. A little dipsy-do dunkaroo, to quote the great Dick Vitale. Win a few games, hit a few threes, and practice like you mean it.

Then, make sure to evaluate your feet to make sure those basketball shoes are not killing them. If you find yourself with blisters and calluses, take a gander at the steps above to see if there’s anything you can do to help.

Key Considerations To Successfully Break In A Pair Of Basketball Shoes

John Wooden, coach of the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team from 1948-1975 and winner of not 1, not 2, not 3, but 10(!) national championships in his 27 seasons, knew the ins and outs of the game like no one else.

On the first practice of every year he coached, before he would put the team through basketball drills, he would instruct his basketball players on how to put on their socks. Yes, really.

His theory was that if his basketball players put on their socks the right way, they would alleviate the chance of blistering, calluses, and so forth. So what I’m trying to say is, learn how to put on your dang socks! Pull them tight so they don’t rub against your foot. You’re welcome. No need for a shoe stretcher…

Also, if possible, try to switch between a couple of pairs of shoes throughout the season. Daily practices, workouts, and games all add up. By the time Christmas comes, those things are already barking, and you’re only halfway through the season.

Get a couple of pairs of cheap basketball shoes and swap them every other day or have a pair for practice and a pair for games. They’ll last longer, and your feet will thank you as well. Once you wear basketball shoes, or a pair of basketball shoes, long enough, your foot will adjust.

Taking it to the Next Level: How to Make Your Basketball Shoes Last Longer

I alluded to this a bit in the last section, but having more than one pair of basketball sneakers will do wonders for their longevity.

A lot of times, your shoes haven’t had enough time to truly breathe in between practices if you practice every day. Having another pair to swap to give each pair the rest needed is crucial.

If you throw your shoes in a gym bag after practice, take them out when you get home. This will help the smell most of all, but also help air out the accumulated sweat. Throw some deodorizer in there for everyone else while you’re at it. Please and thank you.

If the insole starts to rip out, use some shoe goo. I’m not usually too worried about the exterior, but if they’re a pair of white shoes, you need to know how to clean white basketball shoes.

Alternatives to Breaking In A Pair of New Basketball Shoes

The main alternative for breaking in shoes yourself would be to use a shoe stretcher to do the dirty work.

The only side effect of using a shoe stretcher would be that there’s a possibility that the inside would stretch too much.

Once the inside is too stretched, there’s not much you can do for your basketball sneakers other than to bring them to a Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I know a few guys who just play in them without going through a drawn-out process, and they seem to be fine with it. They usually have a good rotation of shoes that all slowly break in over time. Everybody’s feet are different, and some are more fortunate than others.

Wrapping Up

I’ve learned the hard way that one needs to break in basketball sneakers before playing games in them.

I’ve had every kind of foot concern under the sun, and it’s never fun dealing with that stuff. I learned from my brother and my dad how to break in basketball shoes and built up my own process as the years have gone on.

These are the steps that work for me, whether it’s low-top basketball shoes, mid-top basketball shoes, or high-top basketball shoes.

Basketball is a game to be enjoyed, not a game to be worried about how your feet are going to look after the game. Follow these steps to give yourself the best chance to avoid displeasure on the hardwood.


How do basketball players break in new shoes?

Some tips for breaking in basketball shoes include wearing thick socks to stretch them out, using a shoe stretcher or a water bottle, and wearing them around the house for short periods of time.

Some players also heat their shoes with a hair dryer or do light activity and basketball drills to break them in quickly. Be careful because you can warp the shoes beyond repair.

How do you wear basketball shoes without it hurting?

Ensure that the shoes fit correctly by trying them on with the socks you intend to wear for your games or training sessions.

It’s also important to know how to lace your basketball shoes and adjust them to the appropriate tightness to avoid pressure points.

Wearing shoes with proper arch support and cushioning can reduce the impact on your feet and joints during play.

Some players may also use insoles or orthotics to enhance comfort.

It’s essential to break in new shoes gradually by wearing them around the house or during light activity before playing a full game.

What is the fastest way to break in shoes?

Here are the fastest ways to break in new basketball shoes: wear thick socks to stretch them out, use a shoe stretcher or water-filled bags, heat the shoes with a hair dryer, and wear them around the house for short periods of time.

Applying a leather conditioner to soften new leather shoes is also an option.

Similar Posts