When it comes to purchasing new athletic shoes, there are many things to take into consideration, such as proper fit, support, material and comfort. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to injuries and skin irritations. If you take basketball seriously and want the best shoes for the sport, it's important to invest in a good pair of comfortable and well-constructed basketball shoes.
High-Top Basketball Shoes
High-tops, one of the most popular styles of basketball sneakers on the market, provide the most ankle support when you land from a jump, which can help prevent an ankle sprain. Around 68 percent of NBA players choose a high-top shoe to play in, notes the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. The down-side of the high-top is that it's heavier than other styles and bulkier, because of the extra material. If you're an all-around player or a power player, high-tops are a good choice for you. Opt for a high-top that's less restrictive, allowing your foot to move naturally, while still providing a secure fit. Find a high-top that offers sufficient traction, both on the heel and the forefoot, as well as plenty of cushioning to absorb the impact when you come back down after a jump.
Mid-Top Basketball Shoes
Mid-top basketball shoes are another option. This style only comes up to your ankle, which means it offers less support and stability than a high-top but is generally safer than a low-top basketball shoe. A mid-top, or three-quarter sneaker, still offers support to key foot structures throughout the game. If you're not comfortable wearing a high-top, you're a fast player that seeks speed and flexibility in a shoe or you're a beginning basketball player, a mid-top shoe may be a good choice for you. Mid-top basketball sneakers weigh you down less than high-tops, which can make them easier to maneuver in. Look for a mid-top with sufficient cushioning and support points around the mid-foot, below the ankle and at the heel, to help prevent your ankle from rolling over.
Low-Top Basketball Shoes
Low-top basketball shoes, the lightest type of basketball shoes on the market, are gaining popularity, with up to 29 percent of basketball players choosing them in 2010, according to "Podiatry Today." That's up from just 11 percent of players wearing low-top basketball sneakers in 2002. Wearing them can help slow down fatigue, allow you to cash in on your speed and pivot more easily, since they add so little weight to your feet. The biggest downfall of a low-top basketball shoe is the lack of ankle support it offers. Choose a low-top sneaker with a moderately wide, flat base to give you more stability and a good grip to prevent sliding on the court. A herringbone pattern, which is what's commonly found on the bottom of basketball sneakers, offers traction to keep you steady.
Shopping for Basketball Shoes
When you start out on your quest for basketball shoes, head to a store that specializes in athletic shoes. Have your foot measured by a sales associate. Even if you think you know what your size is, your feet can change in size and shape over time. Measuring will help you find the best-fitting shoe. Try on basketball shoes while wearing the same socks you'll wear while playing basketball. There should be a minimum of one thumb's breadth of room from the end of the sneaker's toe box to your longest toe. Stand up and walk around the store in the shoes to make sure there's plenty of room. You should be able to fully extend your toes in the sneakers and feel comfortable in them. Make some twists and turns, then jump in them to see how it feels.
Breaking Your Basketball Shoes In
Wear your basketball shoes at home for short periods of time each day to slowly break them in. Take them to the gym and do some light jogging in them. Start wearing them for basketball practices, and after they start to feel more comfortable, you can begin wearing them for basketball games. You shouldn't wear them for long periods of time or in a game if they cause you pain or are wearing blisters on your feet. Replace your basketball shoes when the uppers begin to stretch and the shoe starts to offer less support. It's recommended that basketball players replace their sneakers monthly during basketball season, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.
- Franklin R. Polun, DPM: Athletic Shoe Guidelines
- The Foot Care Center: Types of Shoes, Basketball Shoes
- iSport: How to Choose Basketball Shoes
- Dick's Sporting Goods: How to Buy Basketball Shoes
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Athletic Shoes
- American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: How to Select the Right Athletic Shoes
- American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine: Basketball Shoes and Injuries
- Podiatry Today: Managing Common Basketball-Related Injuries
- Hartford Podiatry Group: Basketball