Best Cheer Shoes Reviewed & Rated
No matter your cheer standard, whether you are a professional athlete attending multiple competitions annually or just take part as a bit of fun with friends, everyone needs the right footwear. Wearing the right cheer footwear can take those lifts, jumps, and flips to the next level.
Cheerleading is a complex and demanding sport. In a fast-paced environment involving any combination of dance, stunts, jumps, and kicks, having the right foundation is going to make all the difference. But what makes a good cheer shoe and why?
- Champion Gusto
- Non-marking outsole
- Breathable Mesh
- Skechers Biker II
- Flexible sole
- Zigzag stitching
- NFinity Vengeance
- Open mesh
- Pylon pads
Cheer shoes generally follow a few basic rules. The color should be all white, the fabric should be easy to clean, keeping them show perfect, and lastly, it is important to find the right balance between durability and lightweight feel. Additional features such as cushioning and the integrity of the sole will provide additional support and comfort.
There are dozens of brands and styles on the market and when it appears there is so much to consider, choosing a pair can seem a confusing task. However, this comprehensive breakdown of our top ten best cheer shoes will help you decide which is the right fit for you.
10 Best Cheer Shoes
1. Champion Gusto
Made from a lightweight fabric material, The Champion Gusto may surprise you with it’s performance. Breathable uppers combined with this lightweight make it great for tournament competition, where long bouts of activity are usually performed. Non-marking outsoles make it great for courtside or gym practice as well. Lace up design keeps you snug and firmly planted in the shoe during activity.
Within the Gusto is a soft cushioned lining, and memory foam insole, absorbing shock from landings, tumbles, and other jarring moves. A padded collar helps alleviate any ankle irritation or rubbing, helping to prevent blistering. And, as a cross-trainer styled shoe, you can be sure this will handle the moves you throw at it!
Cost and Value
Definitely one of the more budget friendly options, the Champion Gusto is available in a number of color styles to suit your team preference and color schemes. It’s soft fabric upper gives a waffle like comfort to wrap your feet in comfort when pushing moves to the max. Well worth the investment to try out at your next practice!
Memory Foam Insole
2. Skechers Biker II
The flexible rubber traction outsole makes bending, pointing and flexing your feet in all directions an easy task. From pointed toes during a pike to preparing for a lift, this minor detail can go a long way.
Biker shoes make those landings a little easier and a little softer through a shock absorbing midsole. Meaning you can push higher and land lighter.
Cost and Value
Skechers known for their affordability, average at price competition within the market. But providing not only a suitable cheer shoe but also a fashion piece, you’re getting 2-in-1 deal.
- Micro-perforated leather panels for breathability
- Flexible rubber outsole
- Long-lasting, non marking outsole
- Stylish finish and glitter logo
- Shock absorbing midsole
- Easy slip on may compromise shoes stability
- Narrow design may not be suitable for wider feet
3. NFinity Vengeance
Nfinity’s most lightweight cheer shoe to date. Weighing in at an astonishing 3.9 oz, these shoes are guaranteed not to weigh you down, helping you take those jumps and kicks a notch higher.
Specifically designed to fit tight to the foot, an interior and exterior skeleton provide essential support without sacrificing weight, limiting any risk of injury through unwanted ankle movement.
Cost and Value
Despite being half the weight Vengeance is unfortunately not half the price. But despite sitting at the slightly higher end of the price scale, with all their additional features and the added lightweight material it’s definitely worth the extra.
- Upper mesh allows easy customization
- Three strategically placed pads for durability
- Support and tight fit for safety
- Lightweight at only 3.9 oz
- Sizes run small
- Tight fit may not be suitable for wider feet
4. Nike Unite
“Point those toes” is a term you will hear all too often in cheer, but the Unite’s make this an easy task with internal flex grooves to naturally follow and enhance the flexibility of your arches.
A double lasted Phylon midsole provides ample cushion against their carefully balanced lightweight feel. Being not only comfortable but completely versatile may give them an advantage over cheaper brands.
Cost and Value
Unlike their sideline sister, the prices of the Nike Unites do not fluctuate depending on sizing, they unitedly sit at the higher end of the price range.
- Enhanced flexibility through internal flex grooves
- Synthetic leather provides durability
- Double lasted Phylon midsole
- Enhanced performance through medial pivot point
- Arch support may be lacking for those who need it
- As with most, sizes run small so order up!
5. NFinity Evolution
Designed to fit like a slipper, the Evolutions provide enhanced cushioning through ergonomically designed insoles that will have you light on your toes with superior flexibility and comfort.
AnkleLoc Technology enhancing the heel fit around the ankle and NFiniFit in the forefoot, combined with the interlocking bubble lace system means this super light shoe packs a punch in ankle stability.
Cost and Value
Priced at less than our leading contender, the Vengeance, the Evolution provides all the latest technology at lesser the cost with only an extra 2.6 oz per foot in return, what more could you ask for?
- Ergonomically designed insole for comfort, arch support and enhanced cushioning
- Tight fit and bubble laces ensure a secure fit to prevent injury
- AnkleLoc technology enhances fit there increasing performance
- Combo of leather and sateen balances support with breathability
- Tight fit causes show to run small, sizing may be hard to judge
- Competition shoe, less durable
6. RYKA Intent XT 2 SR
Providing slip-resistant rubber coverage for extra grip during those challenging stunts and perfectly balanced kicks the Intent XT 2 can be relied upon.
The latest technology and research have formulated the perfectly fit for the female foot. The Intent XT 2 provides support without losing durability.
Cost and Value
Well within the affordable range, these shoes are a safe haven for your wallet. Filled with female specific features, you can rest assure that your money is being spent on something specific for you!
- Slip resistant
- Compression moulded EVA for extra support
- Water & stain repellent with Scotchgard protector
- Designed specifically for women (A pro if you’re a woman)
- Designed for women only (A con if you're not a woman)
- Slightly stiff meaning flexibility may be compromised
7. SmartFit Sizzle
Whether it’s your first time at practice or you are learning advanced tumbling and lifting patterns, making sure your feet stay under you is important. Gym and practice floors can vary and you may find yourself running through carpeted hallways, down concrete or steel steps and the last thing you want is for your foot to lose traction and cause a fall that could lead to serious injury. The skid-resistant outsole of the SmartFit Sizzle will help give you great traction and control for perfect tumbling passes with a well-stuck landing.
Lightweight + Roomy Toe Box
Sometimes, when looking for a toe box that allows room for developing fee, what you get is a lot of added weight. Keeping your cheer shoes ultra lightweight is imperative to performance. Heavy shoes affect take off and overall jump height as well as how fatigued your muscles feel after long tumbling sessions or even just through a long cheer practice. Keeping your shoes super light while still giving your feet the comfort, support, and room for growth required of young cheerleaders can be found. The SmartFit Sizzle will look great and meet all the requirements of a stellar cheer shoe.
Cost and Value
Growing feet can cost a fortune to keep in high-quality footwear. Especially, in the area of a specialized pair of cheer shoes, built for performance and comfort. The SmartFit Sizzle keeps your child’s growing feet and your budget in mind by offering a very affordable pair of cheer shoes that will hold up through the toughest seasons. You can rely on SmartFit to offer a high-quality product at a price anyone can afford and know happy feet will be the outcome.
- Good for Practice and Competition
- Perfect Price
- Room for Growth
- Fast Break In Time
- Hold Up Through Inclement Weather
- Not for Narrow Feet
- Run Large
8. New Balance KX624
New Balance has crafted some of the industry’s top performing footwear when it comes to athletics, tailoring each to unique sports to function well so you can deliver. The KX624 Uniform consists of a synthetic upper and sole, for lateral support as well as grippy traction. The sole is also flat, ribbed with rivets for a pattern to give traction, but suitable for basing as well as flyers to execute moves with stability.
A textile lining helps to keep your feet dry and comfortable, and cuts down on any rubbing or irritations during use. Padded collar helps prevent blistering, and a low top design allows for ample movement and ankle flexibility. Lace up style closure allows you to fit as snuggly as you prefer, and a webbing back pull loop helps them become easy to take on and off.
Cost and Value
For similar sneakers the New Balance KX624 Uniform is averagely priced, but delivers a solid performance for cheer related athletics and acrobatics. For flyers and base alike, the flat bottom sole will provide stability, and synthetic uppers help give lateral support. A solid option to consider for your next new pair!
9. New Balance WX623v3
New and improved ABZORB crash pad heel to improve cushioning and force absorption make the WX623v3 the perfect jumping shoe. You’ll even feel a little spring in your step as you strut your stuff as they are super bouncy.
The combination of the AMEVA midsole, EVA footbed and strong arch make the WX623v3 easy on the ankles, knees and back, washing away any aches and pains from previous injuries and actively reducing the risk of new ones!
Cost and Value
With all that new technology you’d think these would be made payable in gold plates, but hitting just slightly above average in our Top 10s price range, the WX623v3’s are an absolute steal.
- EVA footbed for extra flexibility
- Non-marking outsole making them easy to keep fresh
- Springy crash pad making jumping and landing a breeze
- Very supportive, making them great for people with previous injuries
- Sizes run short in the toes
- Quite chunky, may be more of a walking shoe
10. Kaepa TouchUp
Secure-Fit Kaepa system allows an enhanced fit through adjusting arch height, giving a unique fit to your foots shape. It provides stability and comfort, even for longer durations of wear. A torsional outsole bridge amplifies arch support, and allows forefoot flexibility, so you can jump, pivot, and tumble to your heart’s content. Along with its sleek look, lateral support can be found in the uppers for side to side movements or quick turns.
Along with many of the stability features mentioned above, the Kaepa TouchUp has a removable insole, so should you need to wear custom orthotics instead, simply remove and replace with your own. An APX heel pad, and PU foam provide impact and shock absorption, giving you maximum comfort on landings and tumbles.
Cost and Value
Moderately priced for those on our list, Kaepa’s TouchUp delivers all the technical aspects required in an athletic sneaker, but specific to cheerleading where tumbles and acrobatics are required. Grippy traction, lateral support, and a sleek design make it ideal for new or veteran cheerleaders. You can’t go wrong with Kaepa’s cheer footwear, and they’re a solid investment to consider.
Torsional Outsole Bridge
APX heel pad
To conclude, choosing the perfect cheer shoe is similar to choosing the perfect stunt partner. Yes, some are better than others, but ultimately they need to match your needs and your ability. Deciding which shoe is right for you needs to be as strategically placed against your demands as the shoes durable rubber pads. Do you need increased arch support? Are you a flyer and need extra side grips without the additional weight? Do you need enhanced grip through tough rubber soles?
The more expensive cheer shoes are designed for cheer athletes with additional features that can make all the difference at regional and national competitions. However, these differences would be negligible if cheering for fun for your local football team or in the park with friends and you could save yourself a pretty penny going for the more basic, all-rounder. Whichever you decide, it ultimately always comes down to safety and support, a solid foundation on which you can build; exactly like the base of the pyramid.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Cheer Shoes
We have mentioned keeping it light throughout this guide and there is a very real reason why. The weight of your cheer shoes impacts every part of your performance. From tumbling to tricks and stunts your overall height, sharpness, and landing will all be impacted by the weight of your shoes. Different shoes are good for different things in the world of sports, some are universal and can cross into many categories. Lightweight can mean a variety of things depending on the use of the shoe and for cheerleading you want something supremely light. Let’s take a look at what you want and what to avoid to keep your cheer shoes truly light:
Be Careful Of
In the category of watch out for these features, we have added an all leather upper. The reason for this is because they can be difficult to clean and do not breathe as well as other materials. This can lead to hot sweaty feet and problems with blisters or bacterial/fungal growth. For younger wearers, an all leather upper will be just fine but as you get older you may want to avoid them. You may also want to avoid square shapes. Rounded toes and heels help you do tricks and tumble without getting caught up on the edge of your shoe. It is also easier, if you are a flyer, for your base to grip your foot while in a hold. Beware of minimalist shoes, there are cheer shoes that are little more than straps of material with little rubber grips on the bottom. While it might feel best to not wear shoes, you can cause your muscles and joints a lot of pain and unneeded pressure from hard landings by wearing a quality pair of cheer shoes.
Avoiding, bulky athletic shoes for a more streamlined cheer shoe will reduce the weight and add to your overall performance. The same goes for too much cushioning and thick rubber soles. These types of materials weigh a lot and they will weigh you down when it matters most. Keep it light and avoid these types of materials in your cheer shoes.
Preparing for a jump or a tumbling pass, as well as landing, requires a flexible pair of shoes to ensure your foot moves correctly to deal with that type of movement. Rigid shoes have their place in the world but it is not for cheerleading. The more flexible your cheer shoes are the easier it will be to point your toes and make every movement with your feet look sharp and clean.
EVA midsoles give great flexibility as does a shallow outsole at the front of the shoe. Position movement from flat to on your toes will be seamless when you find shoes that move and flex with you. A more rigid midsole or front of your cheer shoes can lead to unbalanced movement and possible falls that will lose points and cause embarrassment.
Heavy rubber outsoles should also be avoided for this purpose. While rubber is flexible, it is not nearly as flexible as other materials. Rubber will give you great traction and grip but it will add unneeded weight and lessen the flexibility overall in the shoe.
Cheerleaders feet do a lot of the work and need the right system behind them to ensure those movements are crisp, clean, and competition ready. Bulky shoes will make it difficult to point your toes. Stiff leather can also make it difficult to bend and flex your foot. Soft materials paired with flexible outsoles will give you what you need to keep your performance a 10 while keeping your feet feeling like a 10.
The grip of your cheer shoes does not only have to do with you but also with your base if you are a flyer. We will take a moment and look at each piece of that statement individually. This will ensure you see the importance of grip not only for your overall performance but also your teammates.
- Individual Performance – Gripping the ground gives you many benefits during practice, competition, and sideline cheerleading. Grip increases your control and helps make sure you will stick your landing. The surface you find yourself cheering on can vary from fake grass to spring-loaded floors; a lack of grip could send you flying onto the field or stepping out of bounds for a point reduction. Either of these outcomes can be devastating. Finding cheer shoes with solid grip and traction can really lead you to new levels. Tread depth and pattern both play their role. Keep in mind that it needs to stay light and the super deep tread is not only heavier but also unnecessary to get a good grip; you aren’t hiking a trail after all.
- Team Performance – For all the flyers out there, please take the time to look at your tread pattern and find out what will work best. The person throwing you into the air and catching you will appreciate it. Cheer shoes are not all created equal and some, like the Kaepa Stellarlyte, stand out in a class of their own. Kaepa has built the bottom of their cheer shoe with hands in mind, providing great places to grip and a notched heel for added stability. Keeping a firm, stable grip on a flyer’s ankle and shoe helps maintain safety going into, during, and coming out of the stunt. Falls can lead to pain, sprains, and possible breaks that could leave both base and flyer out for the foreseeable future.
As you can see, the grip of your cheer shoes plays a big role in performance. Not only for you, if you’re a flyer, but also to your teammates. Double check that the tread patterns rounded and won’t cause places that dig into your teammate’s hands while supporting you. Also, make sure they offer enough tread and grip to stick that landing, after every tumbling pass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between my daughter’s athletic sneakers and cheer shoes?
A: The answer to this question could end up being quite lengthy, so we will do our best to keep it to the keynotes. First, the overall construction of a cheer shoe is made with things like tumbling, stunting, jumping, and dancing in mind. Standard athletic shoes tend to be heavier and bulkier for durability. Cheer shoes must be light.
Next, cheer shoes should have a low profile to increase flexibility and movement with your feet. An athletic shoe can be seen in a variety of profile heights. A high top sneaker would really restrict movement and make pointing your toes difficult. Low profile shoes also tend to have a sleeker design which is typically sought after in cheer shoes.
Cheer shoes also have specific impact protection areas. The heel of the shoe is typically built up and offers extra cushioning where it is needed to keep heel striking from causing pain. Heel striking, which is seen in many athletic avenues, can lead to pain and inflammation in the athlete’s feet and joints. Keeping the impact moving and dispersing through the shoe can cut down on the shock taken by the wearer and keep their feet feeling great.
These are just a few of the differences in cheer shoes, there are also advanced features like hand-hold systems and light as a feather flyer shoes. All in all every sport has a specialized type of shoe that can aid in the player giving a top performance. Take some time, figure out if cheerleading is going to be a continuous thing or just this season thing. If in it for the long haul, the investment in high-quality cheer shoes will be needed. Not sure what it will be? That’s OK too, we have offered a variety of options to fit every budget and every level of cheer enthusiast.
Q: Is there a difference between the shoes a flyer wears as compared to a base?
A: The answer to this question is a little bit yes and a little bit no. Typically, you will see a team wearing all the same shoe. This makes the uniform complete and helps the team look, indeed, like a team. The shoes a flyer and base wear should be the same but they should be well thought out. Some teams put their flyers in one type of shoe and their bases in another due to the different needs of each position.
The base needs to be just that, a strong base. Their shoe may have a wider sole and greater traction and gripping strength. Their shoes may also be a bit bulkier because of these features. They need to be able to move with precision and sticking that foot when it’s needed requires a great grip. For a base to do their job, they also need to have a flyer wearing a shoe they can really get a handle on. Supporting the flyer’s ankle and foot by gripping the shoe is best done with a shoe that is sleek and streamlined. One that is lacking bumps and painful grooves.
The flyer will need a shoe that offers good grip not only for their base but also for themselves. Frequently, you see cheerleaders holding their own feed for single leg tricks and this requires the cheerleader to grab and hold their own foot. The flyer’s shoe must not slip and the addition of well thought out notches can add to the performance going perfectly. While these positions typically wear the same type of shoe, it really depends on what your coach decides is best. Reach out and talk with the coach and find out what they suggest you buy to make sure you are purchasing the correct footwear for that team.
Q: Is there an easy way to clean the mesh on my cheer shoes?
A: Before cleaning any shoe you want to determine what type of material it is made of. An all leather upper will need a completely different cleaning method as compared to other types of shoe materials. Most cheer shoes are made of vinyl or synthetic uppers that are much easier to clean. The mesh panels those can be difficult no matter the makeup of the rest of your shoe.
If the rest of your shoe is OK to handle soap and water, our suggestion is a soft-bristled toothbrush and good old-fashioned soap and water. Yellowing may be more difficult and you may need whitening agents and stain removers if your feet sweat a lot. The soft bristles will be able to get into the small weave of the mesh, which is especially important near the edges where it is difficult to clean. Scrub the mesh in a circular pattern first with soap and water and then follow several times with just water. You may need to wipe away excess soap and water in between rinses. A few rounds of this and the mesh on your cheer shoes should be looking brand new. It is important to note, you want to give your shoes plenty of time to dry before your next wearing otherwise, you may end up with rubbing, increased odor, and other common wet foot problems.
Q: Should I wear my competition shoes to practice?
A: There are arguments on both sides of this question. Ultimately, you may not have a choice, as many cheer coaches tell you what to put on your feet for practice and for competition. If you are the one deciding, ideally you will own two pairs of the same cheer shoes, one for practice and one for events.
Wearing the same shoe for practice as for competition ensures you will know how the shoes feel to perform in. This can help in sticking tricky moves and making sure your tumbling pass is flawless. However, the practice can lead to a lot of scuff marks and decrease the durability of your shoes because of the constant pounding they are taking. They may feel more broken in and comfortable but lose some of that crisp clean quality that newer shoes have.
Wearing a different pair of shoes in practice can lead to an unsteady performance. If one pair has a significantly different build you will need to adjust to different feel and flexibility which can be difficult when transitioning quickly from practice to competition. If it is not a difficult transition and you prefer a more padded shoe while practicing then different pairs by different manufacturers may work out fine.
As previously stated, ideally you will have two pairs of cheer shoes. One for practice, where you get the real feel of your competition shoes and the same performance. It won’t matter as much how they look because they are simply for practice. The second pair, of course, would be your competition shoes. You will know just what they feel like during high flying stunts and difficult tricks and tumbling passes but they will be sharp and new looking. The look is important in cheerleading and dingy shoes can really bring everyone’s look down. Finding a high-quality pair of cheer shoes that you can afford two pairs of may lead to the best season you or your cheerleader sees yet.