Guide to Selecting Basketball Shoes

The popularity of basketball is immense in many countries around the world, which is why there are already so many people that are playing the said sport in gyms, indoor courts, and even in the streets. However, there are some players that don’t wear the necessary pieces of equipment to play basketball safely and comfortably.

One of the most important pieces of basketball gear that players should have when they play is a pair of basketball shoes. You can play basketball with just regular shoes or sneakers, but the comfort and support that they provide aren’t sufficient compared to basketball shoes, which will offer you the best protection and traction on the basketball court. If you are planning to buy basketball shoes, here is a guide that will help you select the best and most suitable pair for your feet.

What are Basketball Shoes?

modern basketball shoes

Basketball shoes are footwear that is specifically designed for basketball. Because basketball players perform various movements on the basketball court, like moving forward or sideways and jumping high for layups, jump shots, or dunks, the basketball shoe should be as versatile as possible when it comes to traction, support, and protection. 

Not only are most basketball shoes comfortable to wear on the basketball court, but they are also very fashionable because brands hire designers to make their basketball shoes look more appealing. It is not surprising that many classic basketball shoes, like the Chuck Taylor All-Stars by Converse and the Air Jordan 1 by Nike, have transformed into fashion staples because of how good they look and how comfortable they are to wear compared to other types of shoes.

classic white basketball shoes

However, classic basketball shoes are outdated when you compare them to modern basketball shoes, as the latter now has more features that help increase the shoes’ support and protection. A lot of modern basketball shoes are made of synthetic materials that are considered to be more durable than the leather and canvas materials used on older basketball shoes. In addition, the materials used for the midsole and the insole of the shoes are now more comfortable without losing their supportive features.

The Different Parts of Basketball Shoes

Guide to Selecting Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes are composed of different parts that serve specific purposes for basketball players. Here are important details about the different parts of basketball shoes and their functions.


a basketball shoe with an upper made of different materials

The upper of the basketball shoe covers the top and the sides of the foot and serves as protection for those areas while also offering support for the ankles. The upper is usually where the aesthetic appeal of the basketball shoe is evident, as designers would usually add different layers and textures on the upper to make the shoe look better. However, these layers and textures would also have utility since most of them are added in high-wear areas for extra durability.


insoles for shoes

The insole is the part that is located between the upper and the midsole, and it is commonly found inside the upper as a footbed. The insole is what provides most of the comfort for the bottom of your foot, as it is made from soft materials that will cushion your foot while running or jumping.


midsoles providing cushioning and impact protection

The midsole is the part of the basketball shoe that is found between the upper and the outsole. Modern basketball shoes have midsoles that offer impact protection for your feet, as jumping and running without impact protection can cause injuries, especially in a fast-paced sport like basketball. There are basketball shoes that have cushioning systems on their midsoles, and these systems (along with the insoles) help in making your feet feel more comfortable and less strained while you are playing. [1]


The outsole is the one that mostly comes in contact with the ground of the basketball court. Basketball shoes today have aggressive outsole patterns for extra grip, as not having enough traction on the basketball court would make your feet slip and get injured. There are outsoles that are made for indoor courts, and there are also some that are made for outdoor courts. The outsoles for outdoor courts have extra durable rubber that is more resistant against the rough floor of outdoor courts. [1]

Things to Consider When Buying Basketball Shoes

Things to Consider When Buying Basketball Shoes

Buying basketball shoes may be easy at first glance, as there are many shoe models for you to pick from various brands and sporting goods stores. However, not all shoes are created equal, as there will be some that are better than others in terms of features, quality, and durability. Here are the things you need to consider when buying basketball shoes.

Get the Right Size for a Better Fit

Air Jordan 4 basketball shoes

The number one rule when getting shoes for playing sports is to always get the right size for a better fit. When the basketball shoes are too loose, your feet will most likely move around inside the shoes, and this movement can cause blisters. On the other hand, when the basketball shoes are too tight, your feet won’t be able to flex naturally, and this lack of movement can cause injuries. So, it is recommended to get the right size for basketball shoes.

Most people would recommend that basketball shoes should have a 1/4 or 1/2-inch gap between the front end of the shoes and your longest toe. However, if you are going to wear thick socks for extra cushioning, it is advisable to get a shoe that is a half-size larger than your true size. Keep in mind that brands and shoe models have different sizing, so you can check forums and blog posts about basketball shoes to know if a specific basketball shoe fits snugly or loosely.

Know the Specialties of the Shoe

lacing up a pair of basketball shoes

There are variations of basketball shoes that are meant for different body types and playing positions on the basketball courts. Signature shoes from popular basketball players are easy to identify when it comes to who they are meant for. 

Smaller and quicker players like Steph Curry or John Wall would usually prefer low-top shoes that provide them with a better movement on the court, while bigger players like Zion Williamson prefer mid-top or high-top shoes for extra protection and support on their ankles, which are often prone to injuries because of their weight. [2] So, if you are a smaller player that plays the point guard or shooting guard position, we recommend that you get shoes that provide the best flexibility, but if you are a bigger player, it is best to stick to shoes that offer the best support for your feet and lower legs.

Here are a few basketball shoes that are suitable for shorter players that play the point guard or shooting guard positions:

  • Adidas Dame 7 – the seventh iteration of Damian Lillard’s signature shoe that features Adidas’s Lightstrike midsole that is lightweight and responsive.
  • Under Armour Curry 8 – Steph Curry’s eighth signature shoe that features the UA Flow midsole that provides ample cushioning and impact protection.
  • Adidas Harden Vol. 6 – The fifth signature shoe for James Harden that has an Adidas Boost midsole and synthetic bands on the forefoot and the heel too keep your feet in place inside the shoe. 

Then, here are three of the best basketball shoes for players with larger body types that play the small forward, power forward, and center positions on the court:

  • Nike LeBron 19 – these high-top shoes is LeBron James’s 19th signature shoe from Nike. These feature cushioned pods that provide maximum impact protection for the wearer.
  • Jordan Zion 1 – the first signature shoe for Zion Williamson. These relatively affordable basketball shoes have a durable synthetic upper and a full-length Nike Air cushioning system with a Zoom Air pod at the forefoot for comfort and responsiveness. 
  • Nike Air More Uptempo – these bulky basketball shoes were first seen on the feet of Scottie Pippen, the legendary teammate of Michael Jordan in the Chicago Bulls. The upper of these shoes are made from leather, while the midsole has Nike’s Air cushioning system that is effective for absorbing impact after jumping or dunking.

Learn About the Materials on the Upper

the upper of basketball shoes

To buy the most durable pair of basketball shoes, you would need to know the materials used on their upper. Here are the materials that are commonly found in modern basketball shoes:

  • Synthetic Leather – a material made of synthetic materials that look like leather. Synthetic leather is considered to be more durable than genuine leather when it comes to sports shoes, as they are more resistant to damage and wear.
  • Nylon – this material is often used at the top of the toe box to provide breathability for the basketball shoe. Nylon mesh is a soft and breathable material that is also quite durable. However, because of how soft it is, nylon mesh doesn’t provide enough support, which is why it is used on specific areas of the upper and sometimes reinforced with a rigid layer of synthetic leather or plastic. 
  • Suede – this is a type of leather that is particularly known for having a hairy or fuzzy texture. Suede is typically more rigid than nylon and is used on several sections of the upper for protection and extra durability.
  • TPU – also known as thermoplastic polyurethane, this material is primarily utilized to add rigidity to specific parts of the shoe for support. Because of the support it offers to basketball shoes, TPU is commonly found on the heel, and this material prevents the heel or ankles from slipping out of the shoes.

Research About Midsole Materials

materials on basketball shoes

Besides the upper, you should also take the time to learn more about the different materials used for the midsole. Knowing about the different midsole materials would allow you to choose which materials and shoe models would be more suitable for your foot type and body weight. Here are some of the midsole materials you should know about:

  • Polyurethane (PU) – this material was once the most popular midsole material for basketball shoes, and you would often see this material used prominently by brands from the late 80s up to the late 90s. While polyurethane provides ample cushioning and protection for the bottom of the feet, they are not as durable as other types of midsole materials. You would often see vintage shoes suffering from crumbled or deteriorating polyurethane midsoles since the material is not created for longevity.
  • Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) – this midsole material is softer than polyurethane and is significantly more durable. Many basketball shoes today use EVA for their midsole material, and some brands would even have their own version of EVA by adding certain elements or chemicals to the material to make it either softer or more rigid.
  • Expanded Thermoplastic Polyurethane (E-TPU) – this type of material comes in the form of plastic pellets that are fused together to form the shape of the basketball shoe’s midsole. E-TPU is more durable than polyurethane, and they are also bouncier, so they may help in impact protection and not letting your feet sink into the ground too much, which is beneficial if you want to move quicker on the court. A great example of E-TPU is Adidas’s Boost material.

Select a Price Point

Basketball shoes come in different price points, and there are hidden gems and popular choices for each of these price points. So, even if you only have the budget for affordable shoes, you will be able to get a pair that will provide you with everything you need for your feet on the basketball court. 

Of course, expensive basketball shoes would have more features on them, but there are some of them that don’t have positive feedback among professional and amateur basketball players. Set a budget, and don’t worry if you can’t afford expensive basketball shoes, as there will most likely be a suitable pair for your preferred price point. Here are a few suggestions if you are looking for affordable but high-quality basketball shoes:

  • Adidas D.O.N. Issue 3 – the third signature shoe from Donovan Mitchell that features a flexible textile upper and a TPU insert that offers rigidity and support for the feet.
  • Nike Zoom Freak 3 – another third signature shoe from a famous NBA player, and this time it is Giannis Antetokounmpo. The upper of this pair of basketball shoe has a strap for better lock-down, while the midsole has two Zoom Air pods in the forefoot for impact protection.
  • PEAK Lou Williams Streetball Master – one of the most affordable basketball shoes that is highly-rated by reviewers and players is the PEAK Lou Williams Streetball Master, which is named after the NBA player Lou Williams. These shoes feature wear-resistant rubber on its outsole for extra durability on outdoor courts.

Read or Watch Reviews

checking reviews

A great way to know if a basketball shoe has positive feedback among casual, amateur, and professional basketball players is by reading or watching reviews, which are readily available on shoe review websites, shoe-focused blogs, and video streaming platforms like YouTube. Reviews would give you a better idea of what to expect on the newest, the most popular, and the most obscure basketball shoes on the market, as they will give you information about their pros and cons, as well as their unique features.

Reviews are also a quick way for you to check out basketball shoes and see if they are suitable for your needs or preferences, as they will already tell you everything you need to know about particular shoe models. If you don’t have a lot of time to look through different basketball shoes, you can just read or watch reviews for a few minutes, and you will already have a choice on what to buy.

And this is the guide to selecting the best pair of basketball shoes for you. Finding the perfect pair may be difficult for most of us, as we would often have to go through numerous shoes that are either bad or mediocre before we finally find the one that has everything you need in a basketball shoe. We hope that this article will help you in making better decisions in buying basketball shoes. With a great pair of basketball shoes, you will have a much better time playing the sport without worrying about the pains or strains your feet will feel from the shoes you’re wearing.


[1] Dick’s Pro Tips. How to Buy Basketball Shoes. Dick’s Sporting Goods. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from

[2] Hibbett Sports. (2022, July 1). 12 Tips for Buying Basketball Shoes. Hibbett Sports. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from