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Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best basketball shoes

Whether you’re jumping, pivoting, or stopping short, basketball is a sport that involves plenty of sudden movements, so having the right footwear is key. Sure, new shoes might not make you the next Michael Jordan, but the right pair of kicks can stabilize your ankles, provide support, and prevent injuries by keeping your feet and knees from absorbing too much shock.

With so many shoes on the market, choosing the right pair can be a serious challenge, but you needn’t feel overwhelmed. We studied today’s basketball shoe offerings and consulted with owners to find out what’s best. 

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Basketball ranks among the top eight sports with the highest injury risk. This is one reason why proper footwear is so important.

Basketball shoe styles

As the name suggests, basketball shoes are a type of sneaker designed specifically for playing basketball. They provide greater ankle stability than most sneakers or athletic shoes, as well as extra cushioning and shock absorption.

If you regularly play basketball, it’s important to choose shoes specifically for that sport rather than general sneakers. It’s also important to consider what type of basketball player you are to ensure that your footwear meets your needs.

Low-top basketball shoes

Low-top basketball shoes end very low on the ankle. They don’t provide much ankle support. Instead, they allow free movement of the ankle so you can move quickly on the court.

This type of basketball shoe doesn’t do much to prevent ankle injuries. A player whose game is built around speed should opt for a lightweight style, so low-top basketball shoes are usually a good option.

Mid-top basketball shoes

Mid-top basketball shoes offer a medium amount of ankle of support. The upper portion of the shoe ends right in the middle of the ankle to provide support and cushioning without completely enclosing the joint.

If you play an all-around game, a lightweight, mid-top style is the ideal option. These shoes are also a good choice if you’re not exactly sure what type of player you are.

High-top basketball shoes

High-top basketball shoes have an upper section that surrounds the ankle for stability and support. However, the additional material around the ankle can often make the shoe heavier.

Power forwards and centers need shoes that offer maximum cushioning and ankle support because they’ll often be landing hard on the court; heavier, high-top styles are the way to go.

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Did you know?
Nearly 70% of players choose high-top basketball shoes to gain the most ankle stability and support.

Basketball shoe materials

Three of the most common materials found on today’s basketball shoes are canvas, leather, and synthetic material. Which material is right for you? Consider the following.

  • Inexpensive basketball shoes are often made of canvas. Canvas is a fairly durable and breathable material, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of stability.

  • Leather is one of the most common options for the upper portion of basketball shoes. It provides durability and increased stability for your ankle, though it can sometimes feel stiff, heavy, and limiting in terms of movement.

  • Basketball shoes made of synthetic materials offer the same level of stability as leather but are usually lighter in weight and not quite as stiff.

  • To take advantage of the benefits of both leather and synthetics, consider a pair of basketball shoes that combines those two materials. You’ll have a durable, stable shoe that’s still lightweight and flexible.

Basketball shoe closures

Basketball shoes typically feature one of four different closure styles: laces, Velcro, straps, and zippers.

  • Laces are the most common option and can provide as much or as little stability as you like, depending on how tightly you tie them.

  • Velcro closures make basketball shoes much easier to take on and off, and they offer some customization because you can pull the straps tighter if you like.

  • Strap closures wrap around your upper arch. This provides plenty of stability for your ankle and diminishes your chance of injury.

  • Zipper closures are found on the upper portion of a basketball shoe, usually off to the right or left. They don’t offer as much stability and protection as other styles, so they’re used mainly as fashion statements.

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For your safety
Avoid basketball shoes with midsoles that are overly thick. They can be too unstable for the court.

Other considerations

If you’re considering a particular pair of basketball shoes, ask yourself the following questions first. Your answers can help you determine if the shoes would be right for you.

  • Are the shoes the right size? As with any type of footwear, it’s important to get the sizing right. Some basketball shoes are available in both narrow and wide width, so look for the appropriate option if your feet require special shoe sizing.

  • Is the cushioning adequate? The midsole of a basketball shoe is where all of the cushioning is housed. In most cases, the midsole is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, polyurethane, compressed EVA foam, or some combination of those materials. EVA foam or compressed EVA foam are lightweight options. Polyurethane is usually heavier, but it offers more durability than EVA options.

  • Is the outsole of high quality? The outsole of a basketball shoe is the bottom portion that actually comes into contact with the basketball court. Outsoles are typically made of rubber or a synthetic material to provide traction when you’re playing.

    • For increased balance, choose a pair of basketball shoes with a wide, flat outsole.

    • For the most effective traction, look for styles that feature some sort of textured pattern on the outsole.

    • If you play primarily on outdoor courts made of asphalt or concrete, choose a pair with thicker outsoles to ensure durability.

Basketball shoe prices

Basketball shoes vary in price based on the brand, cut type, material, and other features, but you can typically expect to spend between $25 and $330.


For a inexpensive pair basketball shoes made of canvas or leather, you’ll usually pay between $25 and $75.


For a moderately priced pair of basketball shoes made of a combination of leather and synthetic materials, you’ll usually pay between $75 and $150.


For a high-end pair of basketball shoes made of synthetic materials, you’ll usually pay between $150 and $330.

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For your safety
Basketball is a high-impact sport, so it’s important to choose basketball shoes that provide enough cushioning to protect your knees and ankles.


  • Basketball shoes that fit properly shouldn’t move at all on your foot. When you put the shoes on and secure the closures, they should feel snug but not tight.

  • It’s a good idea to test out a pair of basketball shoes before you buy them. Lightly jog back and forth in them, and try jumping a bit to see how they feel on your feet.

  • Worn-out basketball shoes can lead to injuries. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, college and high school basketball players should replace their shoes monthly. If you only play occasional games, replacement every three to six months is usually sufficient.

  • If you’re tall or heavyset, it’s particularly important to choose basketball shoes with significant cushioning and ankle support.

  • Be sure to choose basketball shoes that allow your feet to stay cool, because blisters and irritation can develop if they get too warm on the court.

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Basketball shoes come in a wide variety of colors, so you can likely find the perfect pair to fit your style.


Q. What type of basketball shoe is best for a casual basketball player?

A. If you only play the occasional pick-up game, opt for a mid-top pair of basketball shoes. They’ll provide a moderate amount of stability and cushioning as well as the flexibility to allow you to move quickly.

Q. Are basketball shoes available for women?

A. Many companies make basketball shoes for women, but the selection is not usually as big as it is for men. If you can’t find a women’s option that you, you could always purchase a men’s style – you’ll just need to size down. In most cases, you’ll need to go down two sizes. For example, if you wear a women’s size nine, you’ll need a men’s size seven.

Q. What features should you look for in outdoor basketball shoes?

A. Asphalt and concrete can be much harder on your shoes than indoor court materials. If you typically play outdoors, choose shoes with thick, durable outsoles. The shoes will likely be heavier, but they’ll hold up better on the harder court surface.

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