With the near-countless number of basketball shoes on the market today, finding the pair that’s right for you may sound tricky. But all that really matters is that you buy a basketball sneaker that fits correctly, provides support and enhances play.
Picking a pair that checks all these boxes can a long way toward helping you feel on top of your game both on and off the court. Buying basketball shoes with a show-stopping colorway and fashion-forward design doesn’t hurt either.
Whether you play at the YMCA, on a college team, or in your driveway, follow our 12 tips for buying play-perfect basketball shoes.
1. High, Mid or Low
Basketball shoes come in three heights:
● Low-top basketball shoes optimize speed and agility and are the typical go-to choice for guards. Nike’s Lebron Witness III line is a great example of this style.
● High-top shoes, like your classic Converse All Stars, deliver extra support around the ankle for increased stability. Forwards and centers prefer them because the shoes ease strain on the ankles and feet.
● Mid-tops serve as a happy medium for players who want something in the middle as far as ankle support goes. They’re also great for players who aren’t sure about their position on the court yet. The Jordan 6 Rings line is a popular mid-top style to consider.
While not at the top of the basketball shoe shopping priorities list, you shouldn’t overlook the style of your squeaks. Sometimes, how a shoe makes you feel about yourself is as important as how you feel about the shoe.
With that in mind, buy a basketball shoe that is functional first and foremost, but don’t be afraid to go for a little flash too.
Some styles come with stiffer materials on the medial area of the foot for added stability and increased protection against ankle rolls. Look to keep a moderate to thin layer of cushioning in the midsole region to have a solid base without losing comfort.
A shoe that can’t make it through a season isn’t worth it. When the fabric and seams stretch out (whether it’s after one month or one year), the shoe loses its ability to provide proper support. While extra weight usually equates to more durability, there are options for lightweight shoes that are built to last, like His Airness’ latest Air Jordan XXXIVs.
What the basketball shoe is made of is perhaps one of the biggest factors that determines how long it will last. Newer, synthetic options have gained in popularity over leather, though many styles incorporate leather uppers mixed with synthetic mesh or canvas.
Leave a little room (one-quarter to one-half inch) between the big toe and the end of the shoe. In terms of width, the shoe should fit comfortably without feeling too snug or too loose. It’s alright if the heel moves a little, but make sure it’s not slipping and sliding.
This area of the shoe connects the player to the court and is typically made out of rubber or a synthetic material. Because basketball players need good traction to make quick changes in direction, a good outsole is vital.
The Nike Kyrie 5 line features an innovative curved outsole that wraps up the sides of the sneaker. This design element will help maintain traction through your entire step while optimizing your ability to roll through your stride.
Outsoles with hexagonal or herringbone patterns deliver added grip and will keep you from sliding around the court.
Basketball players usually run anywhere from 1 to 2 miles each game, so having a pair of kicks that aren’t comfortable is a recipe for disaster. Modern options like air-based and foam cushioning can help keep your feet in the game even during the fourth quarter.
9. Skill Level
A weekend warrior who plays every other Sunday at the YMCA probably needs a different type of shoe than a D1 athlete. Think about how often you play and your level of competition prior to making a decision on the shoe you require.
10. Your Body
Bigger players like Lebron James and Anthony Davis need a lot more support than smaller, faster guys like Steph Curry or Chris Paul. More often than not, an NBA star’s signature sneakers will reflect their body type. Don’t be afraid to go with a more well-rounded option if your build doesn’t match up to a particular style.
It’s important to remember that a player’s ability does not come down to how much their basketball shoes cost. Set a reasonable budget, and find a shoe that’s within that range that also fits your needs.
12. Playing Style
Do you prefer to drop buckets from outside the arc or get down and dirty inside the paint? Think about how you like to play and where you find yourself most likely to be on the court before choosing a shoe.
The right basketball shoe can help a player enhance their on-the-court performance while boosting their confidence. Now that you know what to look for, check out our selection of basketball shoes for the best choices in high-quality footwear specifically designed for players of all levels.