To suit the athlete and handle the rigors of the game, the best basketball shoes should offer durability, support, stability, flexibility and shock absorption. The game of basketball involves constant starting, abrupt stopping, high jumps and quick side-to-side movements that make these features absolutely essential when choosing your playing shoes. It's also important to factor in how you play the game, which can make a difference in the type of shoe you'll need.
The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of player are you? Are you a power player, a speed player or an all-around player? Power players will want shoes with as much cushioning and stability as they can get. You may have to choose a heavier shoe to get these features. If you're a speed player you should look for a lightweight basketbal shoe that offers moderate support, cushioning and flexibility. The all-around player should choose a basketball shoe with moderate ankle support and cushioning. The all-around player will have many more shoes to choose from and almost all types are fairly lightweight.
To make an educated decision about your basketball shoes and determining which features are most important, you should have a basic understanding of shoe construction.
Deciding if you're most comfortable in a high, mid or low-cut shoe is the first step in finding the right basketball shoe for you. High-tops are usually the choice of power players and all-around players who prefer the stability of this style. Mid-cuts are for players who feel restricted in high-tops, and who use speed as their greatest asset. Low-cuts are lighter, but don't offer the built-in ankle support that high-tops or even mids do.
The old school canvas high-tops are long gone and there aren't many all-leather shoes left. Today's shoes feature lightweight combination uppers, which mix the stability and durability of synthetic leather with the breathability of mesh. High-tech, all-synthetic uppers are often more durable than leather and have gained popularity for their ability to offer stability in a super-lightweight shoe.
The midsole is that layer of soft, spongy material between upper and the outsole. Most players consider the midsole the most important part of a basketball shoe because they will impact the levels of cushioning and shock absorption in the shoe and can affect a player's ability to explode off the floor. Most midsoles are made of EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate), polyurethane (PU) or a combination of these materials. Most popular brands of basketball shoes also add cushioning technologies to their midsoles that provide an extra degree of shock absorption without adding extra weight. EVA offers lightweight cushioning, but not as much stability and durability. EVA can be compressed to make it somewhat more durable (CMEVA). Polyurethane is more dense and durable than EVA and can add stability to the shoe, but is heavier.
The outsole is the rubber on the bottom of the shoe. Outsoles will usually be made of a non-marking material (except for outdoor basketball shoes) and will often feature a herringbone pattern that gives additional traction on the court.
Finally, if you're a female player you should not play in a men's basketball shoe. Men's shoes are built on a wider last than women's shoes so they are generally too wide for a woman's foot, and do not offer an appropriate degree of stability.