If you play basketball indoors, you know how inconvenient it is to spit on your hands and then rub it on the dirty soles of your sneakers to try to gain grip on the court. You also know that sticky pads haven't been an answer for sustainable traction either.
Enter Court Grip, a new product endorsed by NBA stars that purports to keep your kicks from slipping on the hardwood.
PRODUCT: Mission Athletecare Court Grip, $14.99, missionathletecare.com
WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO DO: Mission Athletecare designed Court Grip to increase traction on hardwood courts, working with chemical engineers who specialize in rubber substrate and traction technology.
After going through 140 different versions and fine-tuning the product during three years, Court Grip was introduced to the market in September 2011. The portable product works as a roll-on device, providing traction in 3 seconds and lasting between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on court conditions.
ATHLETE'S TAKE: You're not the only one who's been frustrated by traction issues. NBA players, too. In fact, one of Court Grip's official partners, Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, says at least half of NBA floors can be a problem. Jennings believe the product gives him a mental advantage wherever he’s playing.
“When you come down the court and your feet are squeaking because of Court Grip,” he said, “you have this confidence that you can make your moves, and the squeaking can be really intimidating to your defender."
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has a similar perspective.
"I'm a guy that likes to cut a lot and move, especially in the post -- I like to do a lot of spin moves to get to my stuff, get to the basket -- and Court Grip just gives me the confidence to really make those moves," he said. "When you're playing on a slippery floor, you're afraid to make certain moves; you don't want to hurt yourself. But with Court Grip, you don't have to worry about none of that stuff."
In addition to Jennings and Howard, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Lakers guard Steve Nash are official partners.
DOES IT WORK? For sustainable traction, yes, and it allows you to forget about wiping your soles, and just play your game. Another big positive is that Court Grip is not sticky to the point where you feel as if your foot may hold too long making a cut, potentially leading to an injury. The product provides just enough traction where you can still move around the court gracefully, without too much grip and squeakiness.
Beyond ESPN Playbook's review, Court Grip has received high marks within NBA circles. After Wade headlined Court Grip’s release last fall, the NBA made Mission an official partner and Court Grip its official traction product.
Soon, the product became one of most highly sought accessories during the shortened season. According to the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association, 25 percent of players were using Court Grip by spring 2012.
And that number is expected to increase dramatically this season, especially after OptoSource, a renowned sports-performance technology company, released a recent study demonstrating Court Grip’s effectiveness.
During the NBA combine in early June, OptoSource caught wind of Court Grip because so many players were using it. For the next three months, OptoSource tested more than two dozen NBA, college and high school players, and their results showed a 24 percent average improvement -- some much higher -- of players' quickness, balance and stability.
“Ask any athlete, at any level of play, in any sport -- milliseconds and millimeters matter,” said Mark French, Court Grip’s inventor and the president of Mission’s basketball division.
“If our Court Grip technology can improve a player’s speed, agility, quickness or balance by even a few percentage points, much less a 24 percent improvement in something as important as lateral quickness, that’s making a big difference.”
As part of the study, OptoSource analyzed Jennings' trademark step-back jumper, and they discovered that, while using Court Grip, he had better form and stability, and he was able to decrease his court time for better quickness.
“I noticed a difference right away and remember thinking, ‘This is going to make a big difference in my game,’ ” Jennings said. “Sometimes when the court is real slippery, I don’t make the moves I want to. With Court Grip, I’m able to make those hard cuts; also on defense when I'm trying to get around screens.”
See Jennings testing out Court Grip in the video below.