The Ultimate Guide to Buying Basketball Shoes

Buying a pair of basketball shoes is an exciting time. They have some of the best looking shoes in the world, and can be used for pretty much anything due to the aesthetics and functionality.

Outdoor basketball

But should you go for aesthetics or functionality? Also which one is more important?

There are lots to go over and I’m going to cover everything you need to know about buying basketball shoes in this comprehensive guide.

Please enjoy this article, and as always, leave any comments or questions behind so I know you enjoyed it 🙂

What should you be looking for? (Beginners)

There are a wide range of things to look for when choosing a basketball shoe.

But in my opinion there are only a few key things to make the buying decision that much easier.

I will go over these key things so you know exactly what to look for and how to choose the best shoe for you.

Things that you need to look for:

Low-top, mid-top, high-top

First and foremost, the most important factor is choosing the type of basketball shoe you need.

Low-top is for running quickly, moving in and out of people to dunk the ball.

Low-top basketball shoe

High-top is for heavier players, and those that won’t be doing much running.

High-top Air Jordans

Medium-top is for players in the middle that’ll be doing both of these things.

Knowing your play style will give you a big head start when choosing a new shoe, as you already know what kind of top you need and you can cut to the chase.

Ankle protection

Ankle protection is pretty much mandatory. Ankle protection offers stability and support so you don’t roll an ankle from the speed and quick change of directions.

A shoe with good ankle support has a padded tongue and collar, just like in the pictures below.

Padded tongue and collar

Padded ankle and collar

These are f**ken amazing if I do say so myself.

These are the Nike AIR Precision II NBK and I personally wear them!

The outsole

When it comes to the outsole, one is better for indoors and another for outdoors.

Thin and wide is designed for indoor use, which is what most basketball shoes are designed for these days.

The only other time you will need a thick and durable outsole is for outdoor play.

Also the wider the outsole, the more stability it provides.

This is a big deal, as it’s going to stop you from rolling an ankle.

These are the 3 biggest factors

These are the only big factors you need to take into consideration when choosing a basketball shoe.

  • High, mid, or low top
  • Ankle protection
  • The outsole

Sure there are other things like the weight, aesthetics, material etc.

But that’s more advanced stuff.

Beginners only need to focus on the 3 key factors that I have mentioned above, as this will keep the buying process as simple as possible.

However, for those interested in other aspects of a basketball shoe, I’m going to get right into the nitty-gritty stuff for the sake of formation.

Other factors to take into consideration (Advanced)

The upper

The upper can be put into 2 categories that are easy to understand.

These are:

Soft and lightweight

Soft and lightweight uppers are woven material that’s stretchy and flexible.

These uppers are good for fast and lightweight players.

However, one big issues is the lack of durability.

Durable and hard

On the other hand, hard uppers are made of synthetic leather and happen to be more durable.

These are better for heavier players that don’t need speed.

The biggest downside is increased weight and lack of mobility, but also offers better stability because of the harder materials.

There is also an “in between” category for those that need a balance of the two.

This is usually made of mesh material and offer a balance between softness and sturdiness.


The weight isn’t much of a big deal but can be taken into consideration, especially for lightweight and fast players who’ll be doing lots of running.

It’s not much of a deal for bigger players as the heavy weight will help them keep sturdy.

However, this is definitely personal preference as some people can’t play in heavy shoes and others don’t like the feel of light shoes.

As a basic guideline:

Light shoes are for guards and heavy shoes for forwards and centers.

This is just a guide line and can be switched up to suit your personal preference.

Ankle height

Another personal preference is ankle height.

Some prefer no height at all and some want at least a couple of inches above the ankles.

But as I mentioned in previous sections, ankle protection is mandatory.

You need at least some type of protection against all the running, change of directions, and quick bursts of movements you’ll be doing.

The only way to know is to try them out and see what you prefer.

If you need a starting point, go with a padded ankle and collar.

I had no idea how comfortable and supportive they were until I tried it out myself, and it was a huge game changer.

Tight or loose

Your basketball shoe needs to feel comfortable and snug without feeling tight or loose.

It needs to be in-between.

Too tight will restrict movement.

Too loose will cause an injury.

In-between will offer enough support and wiggle room that you can actually perform at your best.


Soft and bouncy

Soft and bouncy is the most comfortable cushioning you will find on basketball shoes.

These are better for heavy and explosive players that need massive impact protection, as the soft and bouncy design softens hard landings.

Firm and responsive

On the other hand, firm and responsive cushioning is geared towards players that will be on the move all the time and need a much faster “bounce-back”.

Firm cushioning is better for lightweight and fast players that will do most of the running, jumping and dodging.


How long do you expect your new pair of kicks to last?

Do you want them to last a season or a couple of years?

Toughness is mostly determined by the price. A higher price tag is usually more tough and durable than cheaper shoes.

A shoe that can’t even last a season is not worth it and a waste of time.

These types of shoes are less than $50.

To get more out of them it’s much better to invest in something around the $100 mark.

To last a year or more, investing a couple hundred dollars is pretty much mandatory.

Just like anything else in life. You get what you pay for.

Spend a few dollars, get a few dollars worth.

Spend a little more, get more out of them.

Minor Factors: Aesthetics and Brand

Don’t get caught up about who’s better than who.

Brands are just that, a company that makes shoes.

When someone loves a certain brand, that is perseonal choice.

Everyone is different and every shoe fits everyone differently.

So don’t get caught up in what brand to go for, the most important thing is comfort and functionality.

And you’ll only get that by using the tips that I have mentioned in this article.

Also don’t get caught up in aesthetics.

I know you want to look good on the court but it’s better to be as comfortable as possible and performing at your very best.

That is what makes the difference between a good player and a great player.

And I know you want to be great!

Can a good pair of basketball shoes really give you a competitive advantage?

Yes it’s true that basketball shoes give you a competitive advantage.

Just like a running shoe gives you an advantage over other runners, basketball shoes make you a better player.

If you’re doing any type of b-ball, whether it be shooting hoops or playing a fun game with friends, you should definitely opt for some basketball shoes.

They are specially designed for it.

I do not recommend using anything else other, as you risk causing an injury.

But that doesn’t mean getting any type of shoe, you need one that’s right for you.

All these tips will help get exactly that 🙂

When should you replace them?

Shoes lose performance the more they are worn.

As a result, there are more chances for an injury to happen.

I recommend replacing any basketball shoe once the comfort starts going.

The comfort is what stops pains, prevents injuries, and keeps you performing at your peak.

Also do not wear a shoe that doesn’t have anymore traction. This is an injury waiting to happen.

As a rule of thumb, use a shoe for a season.

If they’re too stretched out after this and lost too much performance, it’s time to get new ones.


I hope you have found all these tips helpful.

They’re a surefire way to bring your b-ball game to the next level.

If you have to take at least one thing from this buying guide, it’s that you should always follow functionality.

A shoe that actually makes you better and keeps you pain-free is worth far more than looking cool and putting your feet up at the end of the day full of blisters, ankle pain and joint pain.

Well thanks for reading.

If you’re after some basketball shoes, I have listed 12 of them here, all under 100 bucks!

They are functional but don’t expect them to last years.

Have anything else to add? Let us know in the comments below!


Leave a Comment