The Complete Guide on How to Choose the Best Basketball Shoes

Are you in the market for a new pair of basketball shoes?

The right footwear can make all the difference in your performance on the court. Yet, with so many different styles to choose from, the shopping process isn’t always easy or straightforward.

You want sneakers that will cradle your feet and keep them well-cushioned, but you also want them to look great. Does the perfect pair exist? If so, how can you find it?

Today, we’re sharing the ultimate guide to finding the best basketball shoes for your style, needs, and budget.

Understand Basic Sneaker Anatomy

Before you buy basketball shoes, take the time to understand the different parts that comprise each pair. This way, you’ll know what to look for when you start researching styles and comparing options.

While there are a few different sub-components, the three most important parts of the shoe to know include:

  • The upper
  • The midsole
  • The outsole

Within each of these parts, there are different considerations to make. Let’s take a look at each one in greater detail.

Finding the Right Upper

First, let’s talk about the style of your upper. The upper portion of your basketball shoe is what defines its overall look. You can find them in low, mid, and tall heights.

A low-height upper gives you the ultimate flexibility and mobility on the court. There’s no material restricting your ankle, which allows for a greater range of motion. While this may help you move around better, it does not offer any type of stability so it’s not the best for someone with weak ankles.

A mid-height upper provides a moderate level of ankle support. With these, the upper will rest right at your ankle, cradling your foot without hindering it.

A tall-height upper is often associated with classic basketball sneakers from the 80s and 90s. Also called high-tops, these shoes feature an upper that wraps all the way around your ankle. While it offers the ultimate in stability and coverage, it can add bulk and extra weight to the shoe.

In addition to the style of your upper, you should also pay attention to the materials used to construct it. Leather uppers might look sleek and classic, but they are usually rigid and resist bending. Newer models feature breathable, flexible uppers made from synthetic materials.

Finding the Right Midsole

Next, let’s dive into midsoles. While you might not think too much about this part when you’re ready to choose basketball shoes, the midsole makes all the difference. This part of the shoe is located underneath the upper and above the outsole, right in the middle.

In a typical basketball game, you’ll run a few solid miles. You need shoes that are well-cushioned and up to the task. Most midsoles consist of some type of foam to make the shoe cushy and responsive. Some of the most popular types of material include:

  • EVA foam
  • Compressed EVA foam
  • Polyurethane

Of these three, EVA foam and compressed EVA foam are the lightest options, though polyurethane midsoles tend to be more durable and longer-lasting. Some brands have their own type of midsole materials and technologies, usually inserting them around the heel and the forefoot of each shoe.

One example is the Adidas Boost, which provides precision-engineered comfort for wearers who prefer The Three Stripes brand.

Finding the Right Outsole

When it comes to basketball shoes, outsoles equal traction. If your outsole is smooth, you’ll be sliding all over the court. On the other hand, if it’s too rigid, you may find it difficult to move and pivot easily.

You need a design that strikes the perfect balance, allowing you to retain coordination and ease of movement. Look for one that’s advertised as being extra-grippy. This means it will hug the surface of the floor while you move, allowing you to start and stop in a fraction of a second.

Most outsoles are made out of a type of synthetic material, though some are made of rubber. The material is important, but it’s also essential to check out the outsole design. Look for ones that include pivot points or hexagonal/herringbone patterns, as these will help keep the shoe from slipping.

Ensure a Proper Fit

You could have the best basketball shoes in the world, but they’ll collect dust in your closet if they don’t fit the right way. Take the time to have your foot professionally measured before investing in a new pair of kicks.

The best way to do so is to visit a shoe store in person. However, this isn’t your only option. You can also measure your foot at home.

Follow this guide to understand the proper protocol to follow. Though it’s written around running shoes, they are built similarly to basketball shoes and should fit much the same way. Remember: This is a cardio-based sport and you’ll be on your feet for the duration.

You need shoes that fit well but don’t choke your feet. Allow for a little bit of wiggle room so your feet have room to move and breathe. You can find many models that allow you to adjust the upper slightly for a tighter or looser fit, depending on your preference.

If you plan to wear your basketball shoes on the street, then you may prefer to loosen the laces just a little. Then, you can tighten them back up when it’s time to hit the court. Be sure to reference each manufacturer’s shoe size chart before you make a purchase, as they can differ.

Shop by Position

When looking at various models of basketball shoes, think about the position that you prefer to play. Then, use that insight to help guide your decision. Here’s a quick breakdown.


If you usually play as a forward, you’ll spend most of your time inside of the paint. You need a shoe that can carry your weight and allow you to be aggressive at the basket.

High-top sneakers are best for this, as they give you extra stability and support. They’re also heavier, which gives you greater control over your balance.


Do you enjoy playing as a guard? If so, then you know that quick movements are key. You need sneakers that allow you the greatest range of motion, so low-tops are best.


Some basketball players don’t want to be stuck in the same position. Rather, they play all over the court, assuming whichever position is necessary for the play.

If that sounds like you, then look for a mid-top basketball shoe. This way, you have a little extra weight for balance, but you’re still free to move around the court and retain optimal flexibility.

Consider Different Colorways

Yes, you should pay the most attention to the way your sneakers fit and feel. However, when you’re ready to buy basketball shoes, don’t negate their appearance!

You don’t have to invest in the latest and greatest styles but look for designs and colorways that pique your interest. You might find that you’re drawn to the throwback retro styles, such as Nike Air Jordans. Or, you may prefer more recent celebrity collaborations, such as the Kanye West/Adidas Yeezy line.

Either way, shop around to find the best deals and make sure you don’t blow your budget adding to your sneaker collection. If you’re looking for authentic basketball shoes at a great price, go to

Want to stand out? Find a bright and bold colorway that showcases your personality. If you’d rather take a more subdued approach, you can find plenty of basketball shoes in played-down neutrals and solid pastels.

Assess Your Skill Level

You’ll see a major range of price points and features when shopping for basketball shoes. However, it’s important not to over-invest in tools that you don’t need or won’t use.

If you play basketball every single weekend and you’re serious about the sport, then it’s worth it to pay for top-of-the-line kicks. However, if you’re more of a casual player and don’t play frequently, then there’s no need to go all-in.

Make a budget, stick to it, and keep your skill level in mind as you make your purchase decision. As you advance in the sport, you can always buy new pairs or ones with more advanced features.

Find the Best Basketball Shoes for Your Needs

Now that you know how to shop for these sneakers, are you ready to add a few to your collection? There isn’t one type of shoe that works for every player, so keep your personal needs in mind.

The best basketball shoes are ones that fit properly, feel great on your feet, and allow you to excel in any position you play. The right pair is out there, so start shopping and playing today!

In the meantime, we’re here to keep you updated on all of the style news you need. Check out our Fashion section for more guides!