Shoelace Tips for Sports
Sportspeople have all sorts of problems with their shoes and shoelaces. This section contains various tips for specific sports-related applications or for a competitive edge.
Hikers / Bushwalkers
- To reduce the excess shoelace length on tall hiking boots, wrap the shoelaces around the ankle. This may also increase ankle support, though at the risk of compression injury to the muscles or tendons.
- For comfort, lace your hiking boots with soft, flat shoelaces, minimizing the pressure points caused by hard, round laces.
- Also for comfort, Criss Cross Lacing minimizes pressure points.
- Some hikers prefer Straight Bar Lacing, as this reduces the pressure of shoelaces on the upper ridge of the foot.
- Many armies use Army Lacing, which allows combat boots to flex more easily.
- The specialised Hiking / Biking Lacing distributes pressure evenly and keeps the loops and lace ends to the inside, further away from snagging in undergrowth.
- For those who wear crampons (spiked fittings for walking on snow or ice), Hiking / Biking Lacing can be worn with the loops to the outside, further away from snagging in the spikes of the adjacent foot.
- The loops and lace ends can also be prevented from snagging by tucking them under the crossovers of lacing down the middle of the shoe.
- Another way of protecting against snagging is to tie a stopper knot (such as a "figure-of-eight" knot) into the very ends of each shoelace. Tie a shoelace knot as usual, pulling the loops until the ends sit snug against the knot (the stopper knots will prevent them slipping right through). Then tuck in the loops as above. To untie the shoelaces, pull on the stopper knots.
- For boots with lugs at the top, running the laces in reverse through the top lugs (ie. from top to bottom) shifts the knot a bit lower, which allows the ankle to bend more freely (especially when climbing) while still giving support. It also locks the laces a little more securely into the top lugs.
- To get the lacing super tight, use Knotted Lacing or Straight European Lacing, as this helps keep the lower sections tight while working up the shoe.
- Another firm lacing is Ladder Lacing, though this may not work well if the shoe has hooks in the upper section.
- Yet another firm lacing is Zipper Lacing, though this is very tricky to tighten.
- When breaking in heavy leather boots, Two-One-Three Lacing creates a firm Double Cross over the ankle that reduces pinching and may help prevent painful "lace bite".
Runners / Joggers
- For comfort, lace your running shoes with soft, flat shoelaces, minimizing the pressure points caused by hard, round laces.
- Also for comfort, Criss Cross Lacing minimizes pressure points because they sit between the sides of the shoe.
- Some runners prefer Straight Bar Lacing, as this reduces the pressure of shoelaces on the thin-skinned upper ridge of the foot.
- Another method to reduce pressure on that upper ridge is to use Gap Lacing to leave a gap in the middle of the lacing.
- For ankle comfort, only lace the shoes to the second pair of eyelets from the top. This prevents the top of the shoe from cutting in at the ankle, instead flexing open as the ankle bends.
- Many sports shoes come with an extra pair of eyelets near the ankle. These can be used to lace the shoes with Lock Lacing for a super tight finish that prevents heel slippage.
- A better way to prevent heel slippage is as follows: After your foot is fully inside the shoe, physically shove your heel firmly into the back of the shoe before tightening. This works surprisingly well, as many people still have their foot too far forwards into the shoe to allow it to remain secure after being tightened comfortably.
- Note that if the shoes don't fit well to start with, NO lacing technique will help much. If you suffer from heel slippage, you probably have narrow feet and should buy shoes, socks or inserts accordingly.
- If you need extra insurance against your shoelaces coming undone, take a few extra seconds to tie an Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.
- To prevent long loops or loose ends of shoelaces catching in chains, cranks or other moving parts of a bicycle, tuck them under the crossovers of lacing down the middle of the shoe.
- A more permanent solution for long loops is to shorten the shoelaces to the correct length, then finish them off by replacing the aglets (the plastic tips).
- The specialised Hiking / Biking Lacing distributes pressure evenly and keeps the loops and shoelace ends further out of harm's way.
- An alternative solution is duct tape (duck tape), which also streamlines the lacing and reduces drag (marginally!)
- For faster transitions, lace your first shoes with Display Shoe Lacing, which is easier to loosen because the fingers can more easily get under the crossovers from above, and lace your second shoes with Criss Cross Lacing, which is easier to tighten because the fingers can more easily get under the crossovers from below.
- Better still, use a lacing method like Over Under Lacing or Double Helix Lacing, which is faster to both tighten and loosen and thus can be used on both pairs of shoes.
- For an even faster transition, tie your shoes quickly with an Ian Knot, the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot.
- Although many skateboarders seem to prefer the clean style of Straight Bar Lacing, there are more practical choices. The biggest problem for most skaters is shoelace breakage. The rough grip-tape on skateboards rubs across the "high points" where the shoelaces run over the edges of the shoes, eventually chewing through them. Using a lacing method with NO shoelace segments running over the edges reduces the exposure to abrasion and thus reduces breakages. Such methods include Army Lacing (see picture at right), Train Track Lacing or Hiking / Biking Lacing.
Skaters (Ice, Hockey, Roller)
- To help get the lacing super tight, use Knotted Lacing or Straight European Lacing, as this helps keep the lower sections tight while working up the shoe.
- Another firm lacing is Ladder Lacing, though this may not work well if the skate has hooks in the upper section.
- Yet another firm lacing is Zipper Lacing, though this is very tricky to tighten.
- Some people recommend "Canadian Lacing" (= Display Shoe Lacing) for firm lacing of skates. Once again, this is more difficult to tighten because it's harder to get fingers under the laces and pull up.
- When doing serious manoeuvering with tightly-laced skates, Two-One-Three Lacing creates a firm Double Cross over the ankle that reduces pinching and may help prevent painful "lace bite".
- Here's a way to really tighten skate laces, especially for kids who don't have the required arm muscle strength: Instead of pulling with your arms, try pushing with your legs (which have stronger muscles). Wrap the laces a couple of times around your hand to get a good grip. Bend your knee and lean back until your arms are straight. Then push with your legs until your knees are straight or until the laces are sufficiently tight.
- Deck shoes usually have square section leather shoelaces that are notoriously difficult to keep tied, especially when they get wet. The Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot works brilliantly on these laces.
- An alternative to a secure knot is to use the decorative Boat Shoe Knot, which creates decorative tassels and converts the shoes into slip-ons.
- To thread new leather shoelaces through the channel that runs around the back of deck shoes, use a lacing awl. These are available at sporting goods stores and are normally used for re-lacing baseball gloves, footballs, etc. The awl is pushed through the channel until the tip emerges, the shoelace is then fed through the eye of the awl, then the awl+lace is pulled out through the channel.
- Another way to thread new laces through the channel on boat shoes is to improvise an awl from a piece of strong but bendable wire. Fold over the sharp tip of the wire to form a blunt end. Push the wire through the channel, twist the end tightly around the end of the leather lace, then pull back through the channel.
- The specialised Footbag Lacing is particularly suited to Footbag Freestyle, as it opens up the front of the shoe, making it easier to catch or otherwise control the footbag (or "Hacky Sack").
If you have any useful shoelace tips for sports, please Contact Ian so that they can be shared with others.