5 Different Types for Basketball Shoes

A pair of black and yellow basketball shoes with a basketball.

I always enjoy watching a good basketball game, but I have never really dreamed of playing. I have friends, though, that constantly talk about being a basketball player. Watching a game with them is amusing because they always talk about what they would have done differently than the professional actually playing the game.

One thing we can agree on is the need for good basketball shoes. They protect the player from injury and can help improve their game. Continue reading to find out about the different types of basketball shoes.  For field sports, check out our extensive list of cleated shoe options.

High Top Sneakers

A close look at a black and gray high-top sneaker.

High top sneakers are the heaviest type of basketball shoe you can wear. They offer maximum ankle protection but decrease your ability to have bursts of speed. This can impact your ability to respond in a fast break situation.

The ankle support high tops provide is great for those that jump for most of the game. They also provide the maximum amount of shock absorption. When a player is in the forward position, they must be in charge and aggressive. This type of shoe is perfect for someone in this position who tends to be larger and needs more support.

A great example of a quality high-top basketball shoe is the Nike LeBron XIII. This is an expensive shoe, but some would say the quality is worth the money. This high-top shoe has low profile cushioning that allows you to remain flexible while keeping the arch of your foot comfortable. It has flywire cables that go around the heel giving you support while staying light and comfortable on your feet.

A high-top sneaker is often heavier than most other sneakers, but modern technology has allowed high-top sneakers to be more streamlined and lighter weight. This shoe has a Phylon midsole the runs the entire length of the midsole to give the player even more stability and cushioning that remains lightweight.

The many layers give the shoe support that is flexible thanks to new technology never before used in a high top.


Great ankle support

Helps with jumping



Decreases speed

Mid-Top Sneakers

A close look at a black mid-top basketball shoe.

Mid-top basketball sneakers sit right at your ankle, which gives a player the ability to move better. This does mean that there is less stability in the shoe when you have increased movement. These shoes are great for those who want to have quick bursts of speed and an average amount of jumping.

The mid-top sneaker still gives some ankle support, while not restricting the ability to make fast turns during play on the basketball court. This is a middle-of-the-road shoe that is great for an all-around player. This is a type of hybrid shoe that is great for a hybrid-type player.

A great example of the style shoe is Nike PG 3. This is a versatile shoe that is affordable and great for all types of basketball players. This shoe is built off of Paul George’s style of play, which is both ends of the court.

Like Paul, this shoe can do it all thanks to its multidirectional traction. This mid-top shoe has a half bootie look to it while providing a secure fit. It has a padded collar and smooth but durable material that will not rip. This shoe hugs the ankle and provides cushioning that still has some spring to it.


Provides some ankle support

Allows movement for quick turns


Not as stable

Not the best shoe for jumpers

Low Top Sneakers

A close look at a yellow and black low-top sneaker.

The low-top basketball sneaker gives you the least amount of ankle support of all the basketball shoes. They are also the lightest sneaker you can wear. These sneakers allow you to be fast and quick but do not offer much support for jumping. This type of shoe is perfect for someone playing the position of guard, who can give up some ankle support because of the need to be able to be quick and fluid on the court.

The Under Armour Curry 3 Zero 3 is an excellent example of a low-top shoe. This shoe has amazing traction that works well on clean courts and really well on dusty courts, so there is no need to have to wipe down the shoes. The leather is synthetic but breaks in really well and provides an incredibly comfortable fit.

The cushioning is firm which provides needed support but may feel a bit rigid on the foot. This shoe is great for a player that is a little lighter and seeks a quick response. This shoe is great for someone looking for the ability to feel the court, but protection from impact is not as important. This may not be the best shoe for someone looking for a little more protection from impact.


Lightest shoe

Allows for speed


Least amount of ankle support

Performance Sneakers

A pair of all-white performance sneakers.

All sneakers are made with performance in mind and to help each player play their best game. Each player is unique and has their own specific needs making a specific shoe the ideal performance sneaker for them.

The best way to pick a performance shoe for a player is to select a shoe of an athlete that they would like to mimic on the court. Each athlete has a shoe that is designed specifically for them and the way they play.

The Kobe 9 basketball shoe is a performance sneaker that has just about everything a player could need to perform better on the court. It also has variations so that each player can get exactly what they desire when it comes to a performance sneaker. The cushioning in this show holds its structure and does not bottom out, while still providing the ultimate comfort.

The upper is dependent on the version selected. The Elite version of the sneaker has a premium knit upper made of Flyknit. It is firm and sturdy to give you the stability needed and not typical of a knit shoe. The Kobe 9 has a new pattern for traction that looks like a circular heat map.

This allows traction for every part of the foot on the court. With this shoe, any player can stop quickly, no matter what the court conditions are.

The Kobe 9 Elite is an expensive shoe and the other variations are less expensive. It is a high-quality shoe that is worth the money. The high-top version of this shoe provides exceptional ankle protection but it can seem a bit restrictive to some.

This shoe allows you to take the place of an ankle brace if you need to wear one. The high-top version of this shoe goes so high up the leg, that it is really difficult for someone to roll their ankle.


Many shoe variations to provide all players what they need


Can be incredibly expensive

Outdoor Basketball Sneakers

A man tying the laces of his outdoor sneakers.

Most nonprofessionals who play basketball will play outside. Outdoor courts cause a large amount of wear and tear on the rubber outsole. When looking for an outdoor shoe, a player wants a shoe that is super durable and provides heavy traction.

When playing outdoors, the terrain is often rough on the feet and knees, so one wants a show that provides a large amount of support and protection. When playing outdoors, players want to have a good grip and protect the feet and ankles from injury. Shoes for outdoor play must be comfortable, durable, and supportive to protect the feet from hard surfaces.

The Lebron Soldier is a great shoe for an outdoor court. They are lightweight and allow the foot to breathe so that it remains comfortable throughout the entire game. The shoe has laces that are adjustable to give the player the best fit needed.

They have the Zoom Air LEAP system which helps the player move easily on the hard outdoor surfaces and provides the ultimate bounce. The upper design of the Lebron Soldier is streamlined and sleek to allow for the most speed.

This is also a good-looking shoe even for sitting around and waiting for the next game to start. The high-top shoe gives more support for the ankle to help prevent injury. This stable shoe has a heel counter that forces your foot into the proper position to help reduce injury, pain, and fatigue.


Perfect for the hard surfaces found outdoors


Should not be used indoor on a court


What are basketball shoes?

Basketball shoes are designed especially for playing basketball. Basketball is an intense game and these shoes are manufactured for that intensity. Basketball players switch direction constantly and run sprints from one end of the court to the other and these shoes are intended to keep up.

They have shock absorption for jumping and starting and stopping. Basketball shoes provide ankle stability and flexibility and are often a bit bulky.

History of Basketball Shoes

The first basketball shoe goes all the way back to the early 1900s. The original style was called the Converse All-Star. Around 1920, Converse made the infamous Chuck Taylor shoe. For over 40 years, this was the best-selling basketball shoe.

They were canvas material with rubber soles. Many companies tried to create their own version of the high-top shoe, but none were able to match the ever-popular Chuck Taylor. Around the 1960s, leather sneakers slowly began to overtake the Chuck Taylor.

Nike and Puma began to make a name for themselves in the basketball shoe market. Chuck Taylors remained on top but in the 70s, Nike’s swoosh became a well-known sight. Puma introduced a low top shoe. Converse created a new shoe to compete with Nike and Puma, but the 80s brought about new technology from Nike with their Air Force 1.

In the mid-1980s and early 90s, Michael Jordan began to change basketball and basketball shoes by putting his name on a pair. Technology is constantly evolving for basketball shoes with new materials and features like Shox, making them lightweight, durable, and comfortable.

Where to Buy Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes can be purchased just about anywhere today. There are brick and mortar stores a player can visit where they can try on shoes to feel them on their feet and get some sense if they will like them. Some stores have a track where the player can run and jump to see how the shoe feels during those actions.

Basketball shoes can be purchased online from various sources. One can buy directly from the manufacturer in most cases, or from an online store. A player may even be able to find a reseller that is selling the shoe cheaper than the store price. In the case of a hard-to-find or retro shoe, they may be found on auction sites.

A close look at an athlete wearing red basketball shoes on the court.

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