What Makes a Perfect Basketball Shoe?
Nothing in basketball says more about a player than their choice of shoes. Performance basketball shoes are the primary tool that allows a player to conquer the court. This choice determines your comfort, agility, and support while playing.
Basketball shoes can be a very personal pick that says a lot about how you play, what your style is, and even your position.
We’re going to give you some more tips on picking the right shoe for you that we may not have covered in our Ultimate Guide to Basketball Shoes.
These tips will get you into the right shoe, or at least let you know which ones you should be trying on.
Size Isn’t Everything
Measure your feet. Or get a store employee to measure your feet for you. The first tip to getting the right shoe is knowing your exact shoe size.
It isn’t enough to know “generally” what your shoe size is. Once you have your correct size in mind, every shoe review you read will make more sense.
When someone says go “true to size”, you’ll know what your true size is.
If someone says go “down half a size”, you’ll know where you stand in those shoes, too.
Size isn’t everything though when it comes to basketball shoes.
You also need to have the support features that you need based on your foot shape, position, and comfort. How much and what type of cushion do you need?
With your correct size in hand, you can start to whittle down the list of things you are looking for in a basketball shoe.
Features, Features, Features
- Strap or no strap?
- Leather, textile, or both?
- Highs, mids, or lows?
These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when picking the right shoe.
I was young once, too, and I know that most players are attracted to their favorite players’ signature shoes.
That isn’t always the best way to pick a shoe for yourself. Unless you have a very similar playing style, that signature shoe may not be right for you.
Larger players generally need more support and cushion, while smaller more agile players demand more court feel and lateral stability.
Court feel means that they can feel the court while making moves and have minimal amounts of cushion beneath their forefoot.
Start looking for a shoe that suits your playing style, and don’t settle just for good looks.
Read reviews on every shoe that interests you and make an informed decision.
The next tip is to prioritize the features that are most important to you. More cushion and comfort usually costs more money. Premium materials usually cost more money.
Basketball shoes are a pretty large investment into the next 6+ months of your playing career, you want to get the most important features and save money where you can.
Here is my list of priorities as a point guard standing 5’10” and 185 lbs.:
Cushion- I look for cushion first, because as I age, my feet need extra support and soft landings from jumping. No matter what your age is, if you spend a lot of time in the air, you should look for a good cushion setup.
Lateral support– Secondly, I look for a great lateral support system that will support my feet as I make quick side-to-side moves and transition my body weight from left to right. My shoe needs a substantial lateral outrigger that helps with this stability.
Fit– Fit is extremely important, but it comes in third on my list. A basketball shoe should feel like an extension of your body and give you as much connection to the floor as possible.
Traction– Traction makes sure that you can grip the floor at all times and make the moves you need to, when you need to. This part of the shoe can be very divisive, because most players play on very different courts and reviews reflect that. If you know you play on very dusty courts, look for reviews that can attest to great traction in that scenario.
Cost- The price is a little bit lower on here, because I know how to shop for the best deals. I can bide my time and be patient, waiting for my desired shoe to drop in price. The new hype is lost on me.
Style- Lastly, style just isn’t that important to me. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to you either, but I know that it will come into play. I fall in love with some shoes on sight, too.
A Very Personal Decision
Ultimately, picking a basketball shoe is a very personal decision that most people will decide without the input of others.
If you are buying shoes for someone else, then have that person give you a short list of shoes and then make the decision from there. Use our Ultimate Guide to narrow that selection down to the style of player they are.
As a young player, my parents wouldn’t buy me any basketball shoes without my approval of the exact model beforehand, because of how picky I was with fit and style.
Luckily, I have grown out of the style phase, and look for a shoe that fits my speed and airborne nature.
Think about your buying decision as the one you have to live with for a long while. Most people can’t afford more than one pair of performance basketball shoes at a time.
Make that decision count!
- Your correct size may feel a little tight on first wear or try on, but within a few sessions, they will loosen up
- Don’t fixate on just the larger brands, keep an eye out for a shoe that fits you correctly and let’s you perform at your best. No matter the brand.
- YouTube has tons of reviewers that can give you a great idea if a shoe is right for you.
- Signature shoes are modeled on the playing style of the pro that wears them, make sure that is your playing style too if you want those shoes.
- Don’t make a decision on style or popularity alone, your feet will hate you.