“It’s not about the shoes; it’s about what you do in them.” – Michael Jordan
While style has been a big part of the game for decades, basketball shoes are arguably the most important piece of performance and protective equipment for young players. And, the hottest shoe is not always the best shoe for every baller.
All basketball shoes—regardless of fashion—are not created equal. Your feet are essential to your game, and need to be protected. That’s why fit, cut, and material should all be important considerations when choosing new shoes.
Finding the shoe for you:
Cut: Basketball shoes are typically available in high, mid, and low-cut styles. Low-cuts are not the choice of serious players as they offer inadequate ankle support.
For power: High-cuts are the style of choice for power players, and are designed to offer great ankle support and lots of cushioning to handle heavy impacts and a lot of movement.
For speed: Speed players may benefit from a ‘mid-top’ lighter, lower-cut shoe to allow for fast pickup and low resistance.
Comfort: Your shoes need to fit your feet, not your habit. Don’t assume that because your last pair of shoes was a size 8, your next pair will be as well. There are differences between brands and between shoe designs that can affect fit, comfort, and performance.
Quality: With the speed, pivots, and dead stops that make the game what it is, basketball shoes take a beating. Modern basketball shoes are most typically made using a variety of synthetic materials designed for durability, flexibility, and air flow. High-quality shoes are designed to balance movement and support…and keep your feet dry. Like most things, you get what you pay for.
Safety: Your shoes won’t make you the best player, but they can help optimize your natural talent and play a significant part in protecting you from injury. Well designed and constructed shoes offer grip and traction (important for playing on sweaty wooden floors) and provide the support you need to prevent foot, ankle, back, and hip injuries—not to mention blisters.
Cost: Basketball shoes are engineered for performance and protection, so they are not cheap. That said, the most expensive option is not always the top shoe. Taking time to try different shoes made from companies with expertise in basketball shoe design is worth the effort. Once you find the brand and design that fits your body and your game, shop around for a deal. Remember too that your shoes will take a beating and should be replaced regularly based on how often you play. You can keep your shoes longer if you only wear them on the court.