Nike Vapor Tour 9
Image via Liz Barclay

By now, you’ve probably seen the countless “Life Hack” features around the Internet. These tips are often simple yet strategic changes, conceptualized to make life more convenient and rewarding, that most of us just wouldn’t think about in our everyday lives.

Now, you’ll be able to apply this idea to your shoes. From aesthetic to functional adjustments, these tricks can help you perform better, stay safer, and get more enjoyment out of shoes that you may have written off. These are 10 Sneaker Hacks Every Athlete Needs to Know.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

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Image via US Outdoor

No. 1 – Insole Swap

Many of today’s performance shoes come equipped with a cushioned insole, but for one reason or another, sometimes they just don’t get the job done. Got a pair of runners that you love, but wish had better step-in comfort? How about a retro pair of Jordans that you want to add some extra comfort to when you hit the hardwood? Consider changing the insole for something more cushioned. And for serious pronation issues, an orthotic insole can do wonders.

Image via DIY Trade

No. 2 – DIY Reflective

Reflective 3M Scotch Lite and similar variations have become commonplace in today’s sneaker world. But what if your running shoes need a little extra flair for late night excursions? You can pick up reflective 3M tape and add layers of reflective coating wherever you need it.

Vans Half Cab Supreme
Image via Vans

No. 3 – Alterations

Skateboard fans are probably familiar with the story of the Vans Half Cab and the way Steve Caballero actually cut the original high-top model to better suit his style and needs. While this certainly is an extreme measure, it’s something that still happens today.

Take for instance the Nike Zoom Soldier, which has been spotted on players like Ty Lawson and Kenyon Martin with its midfoot strap removed. Feel like something in your shoes is holding you back? Try axing it completely.

Double Socks
Image via Zimbio

No. 4 – Double Socking

When it comes to physical activity, it’s essential to have a pair of sneakers that fit properly and provide adequate lockdown. However, the sizing variations from brand to brand and model to model can be confusing and downright overwhelming. If you’re shopping online without an opportunity to try on the sneakers, it tends to create even more of a problem. The fact is, sometimes we get stuck with shoes that are just a little too big. Try throwing on an extra pair of socks to make up for the extra room.

Nike Foamposite
Image via Kicks On Fire

No. 5 – Loosen Up

On the flipside, shoes that are too tight can be just as much of a nuisance for athletes. A snug, lockdown fit is important, but it can also be tricky to achieve that without smashing your toes in the process. For some reason, many of today’s top brands insist on packaging their sneakers with the laces tied extremely tight. Without taking the extra step to loosen up the laces (or better yet, completely retie them), it can be hard to get an accurate feel for the true fit of the shoe. When you’re trying something on, be sure to adjust the factory lacing. Meanwhile, if you’re already stuck with a pair that’s a little too tight, try loosening things up a bit.

Jason Markk Quick Wipes
Image via Jason Markk

No. 6 – Wipe Me Down

(Almost) no one likes a dirty sneaker. When you’re tearing up trails and wet urban environments, it can be pretty annoying trying to keep your new kicks presentable. If you want to protect your investment and keep your shoes looking fresh for as long as possible, consider carrying a portable wet wipe package, or better yet, the Jason Markk Quick Wipes.

On basketball and tennis courts, traction is crucial, so you’ll also want to keep the soles of your shoes clean and dry.

Merrell Wilderness
Image via Merrell

No. 7 – Can I Get a Resole?

This hack won’t work with traditional performance sneakers, but many trail and hiking boots are equipped with soles that can be replaced once they’re worn down. Classic hikers like the Merrel Wilderness can be easily resoled by your local shoe repair specialist.

Nike Vapor Tour 9
Image via Liz Barclay

No. 8 – Lace Swap

Getting tired of looking at your running shoes? Away game on the horizon but you’ve only got your “Home” sneakers? No worries. Simply changing the laces of your sneakers can breathe new life into an old pair.

Image via
Image via

No. 9 – Know Your Materials

Shoes are expensive, and we know that you want to make your investment last for as long as possible. When it comes to doing serious cleaning, conditioning, and applying treatments to sneakers, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Don’t slap leather conditioner on suede, and remember that materials like mesh and woven/knitted fibers are particularly sensitive. Thankfully, the synthetic builds of many of today’s sneakers can be easily maintained.

adidas F50 adizero TRX FG Samba Pack
Image via adidas

No. 10 – Get Familiar

The most important sneaker hack is to simply know what shoes are best for you and your particular sport. Every sport needs a different style shoe, and (most) player’s styles have a shoe that is designed to cater to their needs. Are you a speedy, slashing forward on the pitch, or are you more of a power and precision kind of player? Are you a big man in the paint, or a play-making point guard? Do you overpronate or underpronate? Chances are, there’s a sneaker out there that’s suitable for you.

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

RELATED: How to Clean Nike Flyknits
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