Things to look for in Basketball Shoes

Basketball is a sport that puts extreme stress on ankles, knees and feet.  With all the rapid changes in direction, almost constant running which puts stress on insteps, and jumping, it can take a toll on your lower body. 

The most important thing in basketball, other than a hot jump shot, is a good pair of basketball shoes.  There are a few essential things you need to know when shopping for good athletic shoes; especially when buying them for fast paced, high impact games like basketball. 

Size:  A good pair of basketball shoes should hug the feet snugly, but not be too tight.  If they are tight across the top of the foot they will chafe and after a few trips up and down the court you’ll have bruises that will make walking in any kind of shoes an uncomfortable experience.  It is also important to ensure you leave about an eighth or quarter inch of space in front of your toes to keep from jamming them. 

Instep support and cushioning:  Running on the hard surface of a basketball court causes a lot of repetitive stress on the insteps and heels, as does jumping.  Make sure your shoes have good cushioning for the instep and heels.  When testing a new pair, press down on the inside with two fingers.  Good cushioning will immediately spring back when you remove your fingers. 

Ankle support:  In basketball, you make a lot of sharp turns and sudden changes of direction, usually moving the upper body first.  This places stress on ankles and if they are not properly supported, can lead to sprains or injury to the Achilles tendons.  A torn or strained Achilles tendon can have you on crutches for a long period.  For basketball, avoid the low top shoes; opting instead for a good pair of high tops that grip the ankles and provide support and cushioning for the Achilles tendons. 

Grip:  Whether you’re playing on wood, concrete, or packed dirt, it is important that your shoes provide the ability to ‘stop on a dime.’  It’s especially important, though, on wooden floors to have a good gripping bottom on your shoes.  Sweat on the wooden floors can be like ice on pavement when you hit it at speed.  Buy shoes that have a good bottom ‘tread’ to give you the traction you need for quick stops and turns. 

A good, serviceable pair of basketball shoes; unless you’re the type who goes for the high-end name brands; doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  If your aim is to be able to play a good game, and minimize the risk of injury, check the above qualities first.  Some of the best shoes for the sport can be found in the mid-range areas of your local shoe store.  Ask the store clerk before you buy.  If he or she can’t discuss the essential qualities in an athletic shoe, try another store.  Some good sources of basketball shoes are Footlocker. for shoes in all price ranges, and  Nike.  The Nike shoes, however, tend to be a bit more expensive than other brands.