LOW Basketball Shoes vs HIGH TOPS: What to Choose?

The famous battle people always bring up is low basketball shoes vs high tops. What should you choose? What about the ones in between? So today we will be talking exactly about that and I will try to answer most of these concerns.


We will be going through these topics: differences between them, advantages and disadvantages, popular examples and what should you choose. So at the end of the post, you will come out informed and ready to get your first pair of sneakers to ball in.

Let’s roll.


Being a mid top and sometimes low top wearer, I can’t speak for high top lovers. However before looking into high tops, you should know that they’re meant for big guys. Centers, power forwards, those type of players.

So if you’re not one of them, choosing high tops is the last thing you want to do. Glad I got that out of the way. There’s a fixed theory floating around that low tops won’t protect your ankles from injuries. That’s false. Stick with me and find out why.


The the major difference between to two types of shoes is, obviously, the ankle collar height. Then high tops are usually a bit more heavier. And the most important one is high tops are made more for big men, where as low tops are more guard oriented shoes. There are some exeptions, but you should always stick to this formula.

Since low tops are more for guards, their performance setup is usually different from high tops

Lows are more responsive, light, loose and flexible. This results in a package for guards. Low tops make sure there are minimal restrictions when moving, since that’s what a guard needs.

High tops are pretty much the opposite.

Because they are focused more for a big guy, the result is more support, containment, restrictions and, very importantly, softer cushioning with greater impact protection. Big men are a lot heavier, so they put a big amount of stress to their ankles, knees, back and more.

Regarding restrictions, that’s why the high ankle collar is for. At least most of the time. They are made to pretty muck lock your ankle in place and restrict it from moving. That kind of setup wouldn’t suit a guard.

But the myth of bad low top support will be broken.



Let’s dive straight into the pluses and minuses of both lows and highs.



  • Responsive and lightweight cushioning

  • Flexibility and no foot restrictions

  • More general control of movements

  • Huge market selection

  • Cushioning is usually sturdy, minimal impact protection

  • Usually less durable because of loose/soft materials

  • No ankle lock-in




  • Ankle lock-in

  • Soft & bouncy cushioning with good impact protection

  • Usually more durable

  • Movement restrictions due to materials and ankle collar

  • Reasonably heavy

  • Relatively small market selection

So what should you choose?

Now you see that both types of shoes clearly divide into two groups of players. If you are a low-profile guard or a straight-up shooter, then definitely go for low tops. However if you’re a big guy or just very heavy, high tops are more of a choice.

Explosive, athletic players should surely consider mid tops as well. They are a very nice balance between the two. Some good models have awesome cushioning while maintaining support.

At the end of the day, it is completely up to you. If you’re a guard and just love wearing high tops (what?!), then go for it. There are no written rules. But for the people who are not sure and maybe this is their first purchase of a basketball shoe, I highly recommend trusting my advice here. I learned it the hard way myself.

Now for breaking the low top myth

People say: “You are playing in lows? What an idiot! Low tops have no support at all!”

And that’s just plain wrong.

People say that wearing high shoes get you support for your ankles. What it ACTUALLY does is restrict and lock in your ankle to prevent it from moving AT ALL (almost). The actual support comes from the fit and technologies implemented.

While on the other hand, low tops are the same thing EXCEPT the ankle collar. So what you get? No restrictions. They’re made to sustain harsh and explosive movements. They are meant for guards. If lows wouldn’t be supportive, they wouldn’t be sold so massively.

You either tend you injure your ankles or not. Period.

And wearing high tops only going to restrict your ankle from movements. So I will say this: if you’re not a person who suffers from ankle injuries, wearing low tops is completely fine. But if you ARE the type of person who can’t rack up 3 games without a sprain, I suggest you getting a high top shoe. Or at the least, a mid top shoe.


Before I leave you here, I will provide you the best options to consider while shopping for low tops, mid tops or high tops.

I actually have seperate articles for the best low top AND high top basketball shoes. Check them out.

Just to name the best ones here, the best low top/mid top is definitely the adidas D Lillard 2. Find out why in the review.

As for high tops, Under Armour Clutchfit Highlight Drive 2 is a true big men’s option. Nike HyperPosite 2 is also great.

Lastly, mid tops are also an awesome option. adidas D Rose 6 Boost is as good as it can get. LeBron Soldier 9 is a beast.

Check out the Best Shoes section to find out more about the best options.

So there you go, the truth about low basketball shoes vs high tops. There’s no straight answer which one is better, it all depends on YOU.