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How Should Basketball Shoes Fit?

ByQueen Ballers Club|@queenballers| September 1, 2021
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Curious how should basketball shoes fit? We’ve got you covered! Today we’ll take a look at how to pick the best basketball shoes. With endless design options, you have a lot of decisions to make. By the way, check out StockX for the latest drops

Fit is so important. For example, a few years ago NBA Champion and Los Angeles Lakers guard LeBron James barely wore his own LeBron 11s, and blamed it on the fit of the shoe. Per ESPN, The Wall Street Journal reported LeBron James only wore his new shoes, the LeBron 11, for two complete games. Sources confirmed that James had an issue with the fit of the shoe, and as a result mostly wore last year’s model.

LeBron addressed the situation with the media: “We’re redefining the shoe to fit what’s best for my foot.’ […] ‘I could wear them, but they don’t feel as great as I want them to feel,”LeBron said. LeBron doesn’t take any chances with his fit, and neither should you!

Your basketball shoes should be comfortable, provide the support you need, and aid your performance. The ideal trifecta is shoes that are snug enough on your feet to help you be shifty (without being too snug!), and that are light enough to keep you running fast, all while being durable enough to protect your ankles, feet, and toes from impact above and below.

Here’s what to look for in basketball shoes

Let’s explore a few key considerations to keep in mind when looking for your next beautiful pair of shoes:

1. High-top ankle support

Ankle support is critical for basketball because hoopers do a lot of stop and go and shifty movements from side to side. Look for basketball shoes that are high tops to help protect your ankle from heavy impact or twisting.

2. Strong arch support

Basketball shoes with arch support will help your feet absorb all the impact of running and jumping. This cushioning needs to be enough to protect you from the hard concrete and hardwood.

3. Breathable vamp

The vamp is the upper part of the shoe that helps stabilize the foot and keep the shoe together. What matters most about the vamp is the type of material it is. It should be light enough to not make the shoe feel bulky, but not too light where it doesn’t give you any protection from someone stepping on your foot which is pretty common during rebounding. For the most breathability look for a knitted vamp. For more durability look for synthetic leather or canvas.

4. Durable sole material

Traction and grip can impact your performance. So while pretty much all basketball shoes have great traction initially, consider the material of the sole and its durability.

How do I know what size of basketball shoes to buy?

There’s no need to size up or down for basketball shoes. Lucky for you, the size of your basketball shoes should be identical to your regular shoes. So always start there. Then, try on your shoes wearing the normal type of sock you’d wear to hoop to make sure the fit is right. Also pay attention to reviews or recommendation on websites – for example sometimes they’ll show whether customers report the shoes runs big or small, and how to size up or down slightly accordingly.

Alternatively you can measure your feet, and use that as an input when shoe shopping. Just follow these steps to measure your feet:

  1. Put on a pair of thick socks and stand on a piece of paper.
  2. Take a pencil and draw the outline of both of your feet, pointing the pencil straight down toward the paper.
  3. Grab a ruler or tape measure (there are some phone apps that can measure now too that you could use like the Nike App) and measure the longest and widest portions of each foot. (The longest portion is the distance from the outer tip of your longest toe to the back of your heel, and the widest portion is the broadest part of your forefoot.)
  4. Record your measurements and use them when looking at fit guides.

How are your basketball shoes supposed to fit?

1. Fit your shoe to the larger foot

If you have one foot that’s larger than the other, get the shoe size that better accommodates your larger foot reports Harvard Health. That way you won’t bang up your biggest toes too much, causing issues like bunions.

2. It should feel good

Don’t buy uncomfortable shoes and try to break them in a ton later. Your basketball shoes should feel good in your very first steps with them on. Pay attention to any rubbing or discomfort because it might mean you need a different size.

  • No slipping: The shoes should not be too loose. You should not feel your foot slipping forward when you come to a quick stop or on a cut.
  • Not too tight: You should be able to wiggle your toes to make sure there’s enough room.
  • No pain: If you’re experiencing pain you have the wrong size. You should also not be getting blisters.

3. The thumb test on length

An easy way to tell if your shoes are big or too small is to see how much room there is in between your toes and the tip of the shoe. The ball of your foot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe, and at the heel there should be room for slight heel slippage. There should be about one thumb’s width (0.35 and 0.5 inches) of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Your toes should be able to wiggle in the shoe box at the front.

4. The muffin test on width

If your foot pours over the midsole, like a muffin top,  that means the shoe is too narrow and you likely need a larger size.

5. Protected ankles

Your ankles should be covered but nothing should be scrapping them. Make sure the tongue isn’t digging into your ankle. Be sure to lace your shoes up tight enough that you can’t fit a finger between your shoe side and your ankle.

Do basketball shoes stretch out?

Yes, most basketball shoes do stretch out. It depends a bit on the materials they’re made with – for example leather isn’t going to stretch a ton. But most have a little give. Here are a few things you can try to break your basketball shoes in.

How basketball shoes should fit

Now you know how to pick shoes that will fit. Put your new shoes to work with some ball handling drills you can do at home. Check out DribbleUp’s smart basketball for fun workouts too. Up next, explore the top women’s basketball shoes for guards.

Of course, this article is for informational or educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals.

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