Basketball Shoes: Advice, Tips & Information
The best basketball players change direction quickly with explosive bursts and are able to keep on their feet without slipping or tripping. Your basketball shoes need to be able handle multi-directional footwork, provide shock absorption and grip.
Make sure your shoes fit well. Your foot should not hit the end of the shoe when you put on the brakes! Incorrect shoe fit can cause blisters, callus, corns on the toes, ingrown nails and bruising under the nails.
Check if you slip in your shoe. Your shoe needs to hold on to your foot, not the other way around! Lace ups are best; they help keep your foot securely back into the heel of the shoe which helps with stability. Laces also hold the tongue of the shoe in place which prevents friction of the laces over the tendons on top of the foot and ankle. Decent lace systems will not allow the laces to loosen up or come undone during play. There are many ways laces can be tied to adapt to differences in foot shapes, eg high arch foot vs a skinny heel. Laces can be woven in a way to allow more room for bony prominences or stop your heel from slipping in the back of your shoe.
Some shoes have a liner almost like an extra sock that is attached to the inside of the shoe to help keep your foot secure in the shoe. On the outside, the saddle is a reinforced mesh or other material that works with the eyelets and laces to tightly wrap the midfoot. If the saddle isn't snug the heel won't lock in place and the foot will move inside the shoe, causing blisters.
Hard heel counters (the area that cups the back of the heel) can irritate tendons and create blisters as well. A “saddle”counter applies a force to stabilize the heel from above rather than below within the shoe, which has been shown to be more effective than a rigid heel counter for in shoe stability.
The outsole (the rubber bottom of the shoe), is most important for grip and for supportive protection of the bottom of your foot. The outsole typically wraps around the sides of the shoe and around the toe box. Its function is to hold your foot stable on top of the sole. Running shoes don’t have this feature as you don’t have to quickly change different directions in running. We do not recommend running shoes for Basketball for this reason. Instability can lead to ankle sprains or fractures, and other lower limb injuries.
It preferable to have outsoles with contoured or rounded edges, check out the Kyrie 3 from Nike. Its designed to increase stability and efficiency when cutting, as no matter how the player plants his foot on the court, the bottom edge has more contact with the surface. In a traditional flat soled basketball shoe the sidewall of the shoe is basically a right angle to the ground, it has no contouring at all. If you are landing on a corner of a square edged sidewall of the shoe, you won’t get enough of the shoe in contact with the ground which leads to instability and that leads to loss of power. Changing direction quickly while balancing on a skinny edge can potentially lead to ankle injuries.
The shoe should flex at the ball off the foot, nowhere else.
Make sure your shoes are in good condition. Make sure the sole of the shoe is not bald or worn. Check if you slip on the court when you do a jump stop.
Uneven wear or rapid wearing out may indicate incorrect loading patterns from foot mechanics right through to poor ankle or gluteal muscle functioning. NBA players don’t wear a pair of shoes for more than 7-10 days! Generally, 65 hours of playing will wear out basketball shoes. It is no different to a runner clocking up 560-800km (66 hours running) in a pair of running shoes. (This figure can vary a little if you are a child or LeBron James.)
The shoe midsole allows for shock absorption, usually foam EVA/PU and Air. Over time the material slowly compresses due to the repetitive nature of stop start during play. This usually results in the shoe losing its supportive strength and allows more rotational movement of the foot within the shoe which is a risk for ankle sprains. If you are playing many games/ training sessions a week it may be worthwhile having 2 pairs in rotation to keep the wear consistent over a longer time.
HIGH, MID OR LOW CUT?
The cut of basketball shoe you wear is a personal preference. There is a weight difference of the shoe to consider, as well as restriction of movement and playing position on the court. There is no evidence to support high cut as a preventative measure for ankle sprains, in some cases a lower cut allows more room for player to fit an ankle brace.
Finally train in the shoes you play in. Training allows your body to adapt to the demands you are asking of it. Managing biomechanical load is the key to being injury free. Show your feet some love by checking your shoes regularly.
If you need further advice about footwear, or are suffering from foot and ankle pain you can book via our website, or phone the clinic on 03 5821 3006