Shoelace Tips for Sports

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

  • Photo 2311 To reduce the excess shoelace length on tall hiking boots, wrap the shoelaces around the top of the boot. This may also increase ankle support – though at the risk of compression injury to the muscles or tendons.
  • Photo 2364 For comfort, lace your hiking boots with soft, flat shoelaces, minimizing the pressure points caused by hard, round laces.
  • Photo 1398 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.
  • Photo 1230 Also for comfort, Criss Cross Lacing ensures that all crossovers occur down the middle of the lacing, where they are not pressed into the foot by the sides of the shoe.
  • Photo 2043 Some hikers prefer Straight Bar Lacing, which shifts the pressure points from the centre of the lacing (along the upper ridge of the foot) to the sides of the lacing (under the shoe sides).
  • Photo 2220 Many military forces use Army Lacing, which allows heavy boots (such as combat boots) to flex more easily – particularly near the ankles.
  • Photo 9991 The specialized Hiking / Biking Lacing distributes pressure evenly and keeps the loops and lace ends to the inside, further away from snagging 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.
  • Photo 2440 Another way to prevent the loops from snagging is to tie normally, then pull the loops long (to shorten the loose ends) and tuck just the loops into the top of the shoe.
  • The above tip can be simplified by tying stopper-knots (such as “figure-of-eight” knots) into the very ends of each shoelace. Those stopper-knots knots will prevent the ends from slipping right through the shoelace knot, plus they give you something to grab when untying.
  • 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.
  • Photo 2280 To get the lacing super tight, Knotted Lacing helps keep the lower sections tight while working up the boot.
  • Photo 1597 Another lacing that can be firmly tightened is Zipper Lacing, though this is somewhat trickier to tighten.
  • Photo 73 Yet another firm lacing is Ladder Lacing, though this may not work well if the boot has hooks in the upper section.
  • Photo 2106 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”.
  • Photo 2112 If you need extra insurance against your shoelaces coming undone while hiking, take a few extra seconds to tie an Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.

Runners / Joggers

  • Photo 1087 For comfort, lace your running shoes with soft, flat shoelaces, minimizing the pressure points caused by hard, round laces.
  • Photo 1660 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.
  • Photo 2174 Also for comfort, Criss Cross Lacing ensures that all crossovers occur down the middle of the lacing, where they are not pressed into the foot by the sides of the shoe.
  • Photo 2192 Some runners prefer Straight Bar Lacing, as this reduces the pressure of shoelaces on the thin-skinned upper ridge of the foot.
  • Photo 9992 Another method to reduce pressure on that upper ridge is to use Gap Lacing to leave a gap in the middle of the lacing.
  • Photo 157 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 foot firmly backwards into the heel of the shoe before tightening. Otherwise, as soon as you take your first steps and the foot settles naturally back into the heel, the lacing will loosen up again.
  • 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.
  • Photo 9993 If you need extra insurance against your shoelaces coming undone while running, take a few extra seconds to tie an Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.

Cyclists

  • 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).
  • Photo 2173 The specialized 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!)

Triathletes

  • Photo 2109 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.
  • Photo 2183 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.
  • Photo 914 For an even faster transition, tie your shoes quickly with an Ian Knot, the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot.

Skateboarders (Skaters)

  • Photo 1031 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)

  • Photo 636 To get the lacing super tight, Knotted Lacing helps keep the lower sections tight while working up the skate.
  • Photo 514 Another lacing that can be firmly tightened is Zipper Lacing, though this is somewhat trickier to tighten.
  • Photo 9994 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.

Yachties

  • 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.
  • Photo 9995 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.

Footbag Freestylers

  • Photo 9996 The specialized Footbag Lacing is particularly suited to Footbag Freestyle, as it opens up the front of the shoe, making it easier to catch or otherwize 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.

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This page last updated: 04-Sep-2022. Copyright © 2005-2022 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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