Great basketball shoes should be durable and flexible while providing stability, support, and shock absorption. The impact on ankles and feet while playing basketball can be rough, so finding the right shoe for your feet is imperative.
Getting the Right Fit
As with any kind of athletic shoe, it's important to make sure that your basketball shoes are a good fit. When selecting shoes, you should take into consideration the kind of player you are along with the actual shoe construction.
Your particular playing style should be the first consideration when shopping for basketball shoes. Knowing your own needs beforehand will help narrow the field of shoes to what will help your game the most.
- Center - This position sounds exactly like what it means, the person who stays close to the basket. Ankle support is key here because the center needs to pivot a lot to pass to teammates. High top shoes provide the most ankle support.
- Shooting guard - This type of guard needs to be able to make long-range shots fast so the stability of a high top works well in this position.
- Small forward - This position is held by a player who can really take on any other position if necessary. The small forward may have to guard different people throughout the game and change roles often, so a mid top shoe will be lightweight for speed and provide decent ankle support and flexibility for quick turns.
- Power forward - This position is largely defensive and requires the player to jump for rebounds often. A mid top shoe will give a fair amount of ankle support but still provide enough cushioning to soften the blows from jumping.
- Point Guard - The person in this position controls the speed and rhythm of the game, so being quick on the feet is most important. Low top shoes won't provide a lot of ankle support, but will offer enough flexibility for optimum speed.
The majority of basketball players, about 70%, choose high top shoes because of the support they provide for the ankles.
The height of the shoe upper is typically the first choice players make when selecting shoes, but that is not the only part of the shoe that offers a variety of options. Basketball shoes now also have options for the type of closure. Shoes that lace up are what you will see most often. Some lacing shoes also offer a strap to give more protection to the ankles. Zippers and velcro are available, but not typically used by serious and professional players.
The midsole of the shoe is typically thought to be the most important part. This layer of cushioning between the upper and outsole is normally made from a combination of EVA and polyurethane. A slim layer of material works best for keeping your stance solid.
The bottom of the shoe, usually made from rubber, is called the outsole. Look for a flat bottomed shoe that is not too thin for optimal stability. The herringbone pattern on the outsole will provide good traction.
Tips for a Perfect Fit
Men's and women's basketball shoes are constructed differently. Women and men should buy shoes for their respective genders for the best fit. When trying on basketball shoes, Foot Locker suggests there are a few key points to remember:
- Make sure there is some room in the heel, but not so much that your foot comes out of the shoe easily.
- When wearing the shoe, be sure your foot is not so wide that it hangs over the bottom.
- Allow a small amount of space between your toes and the end of the shoe so your foot has room to move freely.
Where to Shop
You can likely find basketball shoes in most any shoe store, but buying from a shop that specializes in athletics is recommended for the staff's expertise. When purchasing online, in addition to buying directly from a brand's website, these trusted sports stores are great options.
Eastbay - Eastbay is a direct to customer business offering athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment through internet and catalog sales. Shop men's, women's and kids in popular brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Eastbay, New Era, Converse, Puma, Reebok, Spalding, Wilson, and many more. Eastbay also carries several signature athlete's lines including Lebron James, Derrick Rose, and Lance Stephenson. With shoes ranging from $25 for kids to $250 in adult there is something for every budget. Shoes come in sizes 6-18 with half sizes available. Eastbay offers free shipping on all orders.
Foot Locker - Men's, women's, and kids athletic footwear is available from this leading global retailer. Foot Locker carries the most popular brands in basketball like Nike, Converse, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, and Under Armour as well as collections from athletes such as Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. Shoes are available in half and whole sizes from 3-20 as well as wide width. Prices range from $20 for kids shoes all the way up to $250 in men's. Their website offers free shipping on select items and any order over $75. They also have a fit guarantee where shipping on exchanges is always free or shoes can be exchanged in any Foot Locker retail store.
Finish Line - This site offers a focused selection of brand name athletic footwear for men, women, and kids. Toddler sizes start at 0-6 months and go up to kids size 13 with prices beginning just under $15. Adult shoes range in size from 6-13 and cost up to $275. Finish Line carries brands such as Nike, Adidas, Brandblack, and Fila. The website offers free shipping on select items as well as all orders over $75. Retail stores are located across the country.
Sports Authority - This well-known retailer provides a wide variety of brand-name sporting goods including shoes in men's, women's, and children's sizes. With kids sizes 2-13 and adult sizes 7.5-15, basketball shoes run anywhere from $30-$225. Sports Authority carries top brands like Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. With their rewards program, The League, you can earn 1 point for every dollar you spend which results in cash back to spend at Sports Authority and its affiliates.
Dick's Sporting Goods - A full-line sporting goods retailer, Dick's carries athletic shoes for people of all ages in a wide variety of sports. Dick's carries Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and AND1 along with special release lines and signature athlete collections from pros like Michael Jordan, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall. With kids sizes 4k-9.5 and adult sizes up to men's 18.5, they carry a wide selection at reasonable prices ranging from $30-$200. Their website offers free shipping on orders over $49 or you can buy online and select the option to pick up your items in a store near you.
The History of Basketball Shoes
Basketball shoes have been around for as long as basketball itself. Surprisingly, the style and shape of the shoes has changed little in all those years. The first popular basketball shoe was the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star created in 1917. According to Bleacher Report, this iconic style led the basketball shoe market well into the 1960's. The specific design incorporated optimal ankle support which has become a staple of basketball shoes today. While Chucks are no longer worn by professional players during games, their traditional style appeals to kids, rebels, and athletes alike.
The decline in popularity for game play of the Chuck Taylor came when Nike introduced their first basketball shoe, the Bruin, in 1972. This shoe was made of leather and suede giving it more stability and support than Converse's canvas shoe. In 1973 Puma introduced the first signature sneaker ever seen, which included the name of Clyde Frasier who played for the New York Knicks. Bleacher Report suggests that the Puma Clyde began the trend of using big name players to sell shoes that continues today.
A few years later, in 1976, Converse once again transformed basketball shoes with Dr. J's Pro Leather. Named for player Julius Erving, this shoe looks most like the shoes seen today on the court. It wasn't until 1985 that the basketball shoe market was forever transformed when Nike introduced one of the most recognized basketball shoes, the Air Jordan 1, says ESPN. By incorporating the input of one of the greatest basketball players in history, Michael Jordan, Nike captured and has continued to hold the top spot in basketball shoe sales. The Washington Post reports that the Nike Air Jordan 3 along with the Air Jordan 6 and 14 are among the top ten sneakers sold in 2015.
Although there are many brands of basketball shoes out there, there are three major brands dominating the market. Marketplace shares that Nike holds around 90% of basketball shoe sales, making them the top brand by a landslide. Fifty-eight percent of all basketball shoe sales are Nike's Air Jordan. The other main competitors are Adidas and Under Armour. Together these three shoe giants raked in over $25 billion worldwide in 2013.
These major brands not only offer the newest technologies and styles, but also employ endorsements from sports giants such as the NBA. Licensing agreements like this give shoemakers more selling space in stores along with a chance to get their brands in the media which increases their visibility.
Shop for Success
Buying the best basketball shoe for your individual needs and playing style can keep you safe as well as improve your game. Take a time out and get started on buying the best basketball shoe you can find.