How To Choose The Right Basketball Shoes


Looking to purchase a new pair of basketball sneakers? Buying basketball shoes isn’t as simple as picking out a pair simply because you like the colorway. Depending on your game and how a shoe fits will determine what is most important for you in selecting a basketball shoe. Learn what to look for when buying basketball shoes, and how to choose the right basketball shoe so you can make the most of your talent on the court.

Shoe Size and Fit

Basketball is a fast-paced sport that involves running, jumping and pivoting in many different directions, sometimes simultaneously. A quality basketball shoe helps players perform all the necessary movements and plays a key role in injury prevention. But the quality of the shoe doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit well.

How Should Basketball Shoes Fit?

A good rule of thumb is to leave about a fourth of an inch to a half of an inch of space between your toes and the front of the shoe. Any more space will cause you to slip, and any less will be restrictive for movement.

Anatomy of a Basketball Shoe

There are three main parts to a basketball shoe: the upper, the midsole and the outsole. Each part plays a different role in the overall performance of a basketball shoe.


Uppers come in three heights: high-tops, mid-tops and low-tops. Choosing the type of upper you are most comfortable with is your starting point in selecting a basketball shoe. A few other points to consider are what position you play, how aggressive or dynamic do you play and if you are prone to rolling or spraining your ankle?

High Tops: The high upper offers the most support as it wraps around the ankle. The trade-off for support is weight. High-top basketball shoes tend to be heavier than mid-tops or low-tops. However, forwards and centers — often the largest players on the court — might prefer high-tops to ease the potential strain on their feet and ankles.

Mid Tops: Mid-tops offer some ankle support, but not as much as high-tops. Mid-tops sit right at the ankle level, and mid-tops are more flexible than high-tops. Mid-tops are a great choice for players who play multiple positions on the court.

Low Tops: Low-tops offer little to no ankle support. What players lose in ankle support is made up for in the speed and agility that low-tops provide. Low-tops are an optimal choice for players where speed is a critical element of their game, such as guards or defensive stoppers.


The cushioning of a shoe is found in the midsole and is a key element of any high-performance basketball shoe. Various cushioning technologies can be found in the midsole, including pressurized-air, lightweight foams, EVA or heavier polyurethane elements. A good midsole manages to be comfortable and flexible while providing the needed cushioning to absorb impacts and minimize stress on the foot during gameplay.


The outsole provides a shoe’s traction and is usually made of rubber or some other synthetic material. You want a shoe that allows for maximum grip to the court so you can change directions, pivot or jump without slipping. Proper traction allows shooters to maintain their balance and form on their jumper, or for post players looking to hold their rebounding position in the low post.


While you may like the brand or look of a certain basketball shoe, it is highly recommended to consider the overall fit, your position, playing style and any history of injuries to help determine the right shoe for you.

Guards: Guards are typically a team’s primary ball-handler. So whether they’re pushing the ball in transition or driving to the hoop, guards need to be fast and light on their feet. Low-top basketball shoes are ideal for elusive and quick guards.

Centers & Power Forwards: Centers and power forwards tend to do their scoring from the low post. They’re also often the best rebounder on the team, so they spend a lot of time in the paint. High-top shoes are best suited for a classic post player’s game.

Small Forwards & Versatile Players: These players usually have much more fluid games and can play multiple positions. They possess the ability to slash to the basket or shoot from deep. They’re also athletic enough to be dominant defenders. Mid-tops are best suited for small forwards given their array of skills and dynamic style of play.

What To Look For When Buying Basketball Shoes?

When measuring a basketball shoe’s performance, use these three categories to judge the quality of a basketball shoe: traction, support, and comfort.

Traction: Grip is the name of the game when it comes to traction. All players need a shoe with good traction.

Support: The shoe should be sturdy enough to bear your weight while allowing your feet to function at a high level. The only time you should be thinking about your feet during a game is to move them on defense.

Comfort: Your shoes should be comfortable and be able to be worn for long stretches without causing your feet pain. The shoes’ width, tightness and amount of cushion all play a role in the comfort provided to your feet.


Basketball shoes look a certain way in part due to the materials they are made of. That affects the shoe’s durability, and the more durable they are, the longer you’ll own them. But a lot more than just materials and design go into a shoe’s aesthetics.

Your game and style of play allow you to express yourself on the court — as do your shoes. Bold, vibrant colors on your shoes might match your loud, explosive game. Or you may prefer your shoes to represent the colors of your favorite team or the latest style from your favorite NBA player.

Crunch Time – What Basketball Shoes Should You Get?

The right basketball shoe can enhance your game and boost your confidence. Just like knocking down your first few shots, the right shoes will have you feeling good about your game. Check out our collection of basketball shoes and get ready to take your game to the next level.

Which brand and style of basketball shoe helps your game the most? Tag @finishline on social media and show us your kicks!