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A good hoops game needs good hoops sneakers. Having a quality pair of basketball shoes is essential. Not all athletic sneakers are created equal, after all. There is so much engineering, design and testing that goes into creating a sneaker, and that increases tenfold when the sneaker is made for a specific game or sport. Namely, basketball.
Think about the movement patterns in a basketball game. You’re running, definitely. You’re also pivoting, a lot. That means staying stable is not just nice but is necessary in preventing injury. Plus, you might be playing on an indoor court, which means you’ll need extra grip on your shoes.
Most basketball shoes are designed to wear indoors, and this is important to keep in mind for both how much traction your shoe needs and how long it will last.
“Basketball shoes should typically last at least one full season, [which] could vary depending on playing surface and durability of the shoe,” says Jeff Gately, Puma’s product line manager. A thin tread will wear down more quickly outside, as will too-soft outer fabrics.
The Different Types of Basketball Sneakers
When shopping for a good style, there are some key features to look for. First up: decide whether you want a high, mid, or low-cut shoe. While low-tops are built for premium speed and agility, making them better for guards, mid and high-top styles lend more ankle support and stability, which is ideal for forwards as the position doesn’t require a lot of quick movements. Mid-tops provide a happy medium for multi-position players.
But mostly, choosing the right sneaker height is about user preference, says Gately. It’s about what makes you feel comfortable; most of the actual stability and support your shoe is giving comes from the heel counter, anyway.
What to Look for in the Best Women’s Basketball Shoes
Once you’ve chosen the level of ankle support that’s right for you, consider the shoe’s midsole and outsole — two of the most essential components of a shoe’s performance. The midsole should feature lightweight, responsive cushioning to fight foot fatigue over the course of a game. Meanwhile, the outsoles should offer dependable grip. If you’ll be playing on an outdoor surface, look for a shoe with a thicker, more durable sole.
Gately recommends paying close attention to material here. Many basketball sneakers use a mix of materials, like mesh, leather and suede combinations. And although they are often a point of style for a shoe, they’re functional, too.
“This could be multi-zoned materials for targeted support and breathability,” says Gately. “Supportive zero-stretch materials tend to offer more stability in high-impact zones and breathable lightweight materials allow for a soft on- foot feel to limit pressure points.”
Another tip? Don’t just read reviews. Watch them, too. Gately recommends looking up videos to see the shoes in action and really looking into the specs of the shoe, which can help you figure out what is best for your feet —whether they’re wider or narrower, flat or have high arches or need an extra sock layer. This is especially true for women shopping for basketball sneakers because their feet tend to be cut narrower — and a lot of sneakers on the market are unisex.
Nike LeBron 19 Basketball Shoes
Best for Hardcore Players
Channel LeBron’s game and hit the court in Nike’s LeBron 19s, an update on the past season’s 18 style. The stylish high-top gets its cool look from a sculpted overlay, which gives the shoe an entirely new dimension — and provides your ankles with extra support in the process. Underfoot, Max Air offers impact cushioning at the heel while a high-volume Zoom Air unit promotes optimal energy return to boost speed. Other great features include a molded TPU heel counter that helps stabilize the foot, signature LeBron details on the midsole and grippy, multidirectional traction outsoles.
Adidas Donavan Mitchell D.O.N. Issue #3 Basketball Shoes
If you want to make a bold statement, you can’t go wrong with the Adidas Donavan Mitchell D.O.N. Issue #3 sneakers. Details on the sneaker are meant to symbolize Mitchell’s journey through basketball and life, with wavy detailing along the outsole and the tongue signaling movement. It’s available in 10 colorways to choose from.
Under Armour Curry Flow 8 Basketball Shoes
Under Armour’s Curry Flow 8 basketball shoes have a flat knit, sock-like upper with synthetic overlays for strategic support, plus a high-stretch collar for easy entry. Moreover, thanks to UA Flow cushioning technology, these are super lightweight, bouncy and provide next-level grip. The style is also fixed with a flexible Pebax plate and durable UA Flow outsoles for stability as well as faster starts and stops.
Puma Fusion Nitro Spectra Basketball Shoes
Best for Performance Geeks
Puma’s Fusion Nitro Spectra are one of Gately’s top Puma picks for women’s basketball shoes that prioritize performance. The shoe uses Nitro Foam technology, which keeps your foot cushioned and responsive throughout play. The FuzionFit tech on the upper is essential for keeping your foot locked into the shoe and preventing any slipping or sliding around.
Air Jordan OG Basketball Shoes
The Air Jordan OG is a basketball sneaker you cannot go wrong with. Not only did Jordan completely reimagine what a basketball shoe even was to begin with, but the brand keeps its updates sharp and smart with every modern version, too. These Jordans were released back in 1998 so that women could get their feet into some high-quality, made-for-them basketball shoes, too.
New Balance Two WXY Basketball Shoes
Another vibrant style, New Balance’s Two WXY basketball shoes feature a Kinetic Stitch construction and mid-cut silhouette for extra support. Inside, they have an Ortholite sock liner for premium comfort and FuelCell foam underfoot for a propulsive feel that drives you forward.
Reebok Question Mid Basketball Shoes
Best Mid Height Basketball Shoes
In late 2021, Reebok’s classic Question Mid came out in a refreshed colorway. The mid-height, Pink Toe Reebok sneaker is one of the most fun basketball shoes around, but it’s not without its technical specs. The hexagonal cushioning and the abrasion-resistant outsole are as good as they were on the original style Iverson made famous.
Nike Fly.By Mid 2 Basketball Shoes
Best Affordable Basketball Shoes for Women
Nike Fly.By Mid 2 is a great choice for an inexpensive women’s basketball shoe that still gets the job done. The ultra-lightweight, responsive cushioning helps power you up and down the court with maximum speed. It has multidirectional traction, which is huge for playing on slippery indoor courts. This is a great pair to have on hand for last-minute pick-up games.
Adidas Exhibit A Candace Parker Basketball Shoes
Best Women’s-Specific Basketball Shoes
For the minimalist at heart, Adidas’ Exhibit A Candace Parker women’s basketball shoes offer a clean, sleek look with a low-cut collar that lends support while promoting agility. It is, straight up, a good-looking shoe. And while male basketball players dominate the sneaker game, there’s no doubt WNBA Player Candace Parker is carving out her own space. So far, it is looking good.
Puma Court Rider Summer Days Basketball Shoes
Best for Beginners
Puma’s Court Rider basketball shoes are Gately’s recommendation for a good starter women’s basketball shoe. He points to the midsole ProFoam compound and the high rebound EVA for great energy return on every step. Plus, at $100, these shoes are a less expensive option.
Nike Air Zoom G.T. Run Basketball Shoes
The Nike Air Zoom G.T. Run is a basketball sneaker that goes heavy on the street style inspiration. It’s super lightweight, made with just the right amount of cushioning to bounce you back without weighing you down. The upper is made of two layers, making every movement both free and supported. It’s a pricey pick, but it is worth it.
New Balance Kawhi Basketball Shoes
New Balance’s Kawhi basketball shoes are, of course, approved and worn by Kawhi Leonard, and are just a very good shoe. Kinetic Stitch makes up the style’s upper, which was engineered, using data, to move the way the foot actually moves during a game. In the middle of the shoe, there’s a performance plate made for the jumping, cutting and any running one might do in the game.
Adidas Dame 8 Basketball Shoes
This particular Adidas Dame 8 doesn’t drop until Jan. 25, but it’s worth the wait. The sneaker uses Bounce Pro cushioning for comfortable movement and has heavy traction for hardwood courts. Even better, the shoe is made with materials generated from production waste, rather than with new materials. Mark your calendars now.
Adidas Postmove Mid Basketball Shoes
Adidas’ Postmove Mid shoes are maybe not the ones you’d wear playing on the court, but they certainly belong around it. The mid-height and all-white colorway makes these feel retro, taking inspiration from all basketball sneakers of the past. They’re heavy on the style front. Wear them to all the games you’re not playing in.
Converse Weapon CX Peace & Unity Basketball Shoes
What makes the Converse Weapon CX Peace & Unity such a great basketball shoe? Besides its renown on the court since 1986, this shoe has all the comfort you could want in a high-top sneaker with a foam collar and wrapped rubber outsole. It maintains its retro aesthetic overall, adding a subtle homage to the game with its peace and unity graphics on the heel and footbed.