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How to Break in Tap Shoes: 4  Easy Steps
How to Break in Tap Shoes: 4 Easy Steps

How to Break in Tap Shoes: 4 Easy Steps

Tap dancing is a rhythmic and expressive dance form that involves creating sounds with metal plates attached to the soles of special shoes, known as tap shoes.

Breaking in tap shoes is a crucial step to ensure they fit well and provide the necessary flexibility for dancing.

 In this article, we will guide you through the process of breaking into tap shoes effectively, ensuring you can dance with comfort and confidence.

Why Breaking in Tap Shoes Matters

Breaking in tap shoes is essential to ensure they mold to your feet, providing a comfortable fit and improved flexibility. Stiff shoes can restrict movement and cause discomfort while dancing, potentially hindering your performance.

Preparation for Breaking in Tap Shoes

Before starting the breaking-in process, gather the following items:

  1. Your new tap shoes.
  2. Thick socks
  3. Rubbing alcohol or water in a spray bottle
  4. Tap shoe pads (optional)
  5. Ensure you have a suitable space for practicing and breaking in your shoes.
How to Break in Tap Shoes
Close-up view of tap dancing shoes.

How to Break in Tap Shoes

The Wear and Flex Method

 Wear Thick Socks: Put on a pair of thick socks to create extra padding between your feet and the tap shoes. This will reduce friction and prevent blisters during the breaking-in process.

Spray with Alcohol or Water: Lightly spray the exterior and interior of the tap shoes with rubbing alcohol or water. This will help soften the leather and make it more pliable.

Flex Your Feet: Stand up and begin flexing your feet, bending them forward and backward. Focus on moving the balls of your feet and the toes to encourage the leather to conform to your foot shape.

Toe Taps and Heel Drops: While wearing the tap shoes, practice doing gentle toe taps and heel drops. This motion will help loosen the sole and metal taps while promoting flexibility.

Repeat the Process: Repeat steps 1 to 4 for several practice sessions, gradually increasing the duration as the shoes start to feel more comfortable.

Using Tap Shoe Pads

For added comfort during the breaking-in process, consider using tap shoe pads. These thin, cushioned pads adhere to the interior of the shoe and provide extra support and shock absorption, reducing strain on your feet and joints.

Softening the Shoe Leather

To expedite the softening process of tap shoe leather, you can use leather softening products available at dance supply stores. Follow the instructions on the product label for safe and effective application.

Frequent Practice Sessions

Aside from the specific breaking-in techniques, the simple act of regular tap dance practice will also contribute to breaking in your shoes. The more you wear them and dance in them, the more they will adapt to your feet.

Tapping on Different Surfaces

Try practicing on different dance surfaces, such as hardwood floors or Marley floors. This variation will help your tap shoes adjust to various textures, improving their responsiveness during performances.

How to Break in Tap Shoes

Caring for Your Tap Shoes

To prolong the life of your tap shoes, maintain them properly. Clean the metal taps regularly and store the shoes in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.

When to Replace Tap Shoes

As tap shoes age and wear down, their sound quality and support may diminish. If you notice significant damage or a lack of support, it may be time to invest in a new pair of tap shoes for optimal performance.


Breaking in tap shoes is a critical step for tap dancers to ensure comfortable and flexible footwear. By following the steps outlined in this guide and dedicating time to practice, you can enjoy enhanced comfort and performance in your tap-dancing journey.


1. What is the importance of breaking in tap shoes?

It is necessary to make sure they conform to your feet’s shape, providing a comfortable fit and improved flexibility. Stiff shoes can cause discomfort and restrict movement while dancing.

2. What is the duration of a break in tap shoes?

The duration for breaking in tap shoes can vary depending on the shoe’s material and how often you practice. Generally, it may take a few practice sessions to a few weeks for the shoes to feel fully comfortable.

3. What kind of socks should I wear while breaking in tap shoes?

It’s recommended to wear thick socks during the breaking-in process to create extra padding and reduce friction, preventing blisters.

4. When should I replace my tap shoes?

If you notice significant damage, worn-out soles, or a lack of support in your tap shoes, it’s time to consider replacing them for optimal performance and safety.

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