Not all athletic shoes are made the same. The type of shoe you need depends on the activity you plan to do in those shoes. Athletic shoes have different features that are designed for specific movements and playing surfaces. For example, most basketball shoes have a higher ankle to provide ankle support, whereas running shoes have a shorter ankle.
Basketball involves running, jumping and quick stops and changes in direction. Quality shoes and proper ankle support can help prevent foot and ankle injuries. The good news is that the most expensive shoes aren’t necessarily the best for playing basketball.
If you are a recreational basketball player or your child plays ball at school, consider these tips for choosing the right basketball shoe.
Measure your foot. Go to an athletic store and have your foot measured by a professional. These measurements will determine the correct shoe size and width for your foot.
Consider your playing style. Are you quick on the court, or are you more of a power player? Lightweight shoes with moderate cushion are ideal for fast, all-around players. Heavier shoes with more stability and cushion are better suited for power players who do more jumping in the game.
Choose shoes based on the court surface. If you play on an indoor court, select shoes with soles that provide good traction and help grip the floor. If you play outdoors on concrete, you’ll need different shoes with heavier soles.
Try before you buy. Before you make a purchase, be sure you try the shoes on to test the fit. There should be a small amount of space (about the size of your thumbnail) in the front of your shoe. The width of the shoes should feel snug, but not too tight. Try running and jumping in them to ensure your heel stays put inside the shoe and does not slip in and out.
Ankle injuries are among the most common injuries in basketball, and they often occur when player jumps in the air and lands with the foot or ankle twisted, or lands on another player’s foot. While shoes can help provide support, physicians agree the best way to prevent an ankle injury is with proper conditioning and strength training. Professional players brace their ankles with tape or supportive devices to help prevent injuries, and recreational and youth players should do the same.
Shoes should be replaced every month or two if they get constant wear. The more you wear your shoes, the more the support systems in the shoes break down. If you wear your shoes regularly, replace them often.
Ask an expert at an athletic shoe store to help you select the right shoes for your foot and playing style. Don’t be distracted by bells and whistles on the shoes—the most important factors in a shoe are fit, sole type and ankle support.