Best Youth Basketball Shoes Reviewed & Rated

Choosing a good pair of quality basketball shoes can be tricky because the right pair can help players advance their play on the court and decrease the likelihood of foot or ankle injury. This is why most basketball shoes are expensive, especially the higher end brands. Whatever the price tag, at a minimum make sure the shoe you purchase has good ankle support, durability, and traction.

Featured Recommendations

Nike Kobe XI
  • Nike Kobe XI
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Nike Flyknit
  • Mesh tongue
  • Price: See Here
Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro
  • Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durapontex
  • High quality build
  • Price: See Here
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
  • Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathable canvas
  • Century old classic
  • Price: See Here

Identifying your playing style is also important because it can determine which type of sneakers are the best suited for you. Post players play a physical game, so they require ankle stability to handle the high-frequency jumping and physical contact. High tops are best suited to post players as they provide the best ankle support, however, they tend to be heavy and can affect a players speed in dynamic turn over situations.

Low-top basketball shoes really work for someone in a ball-handling position such as point guard, as they’ll be expected to make fast breaks as part of their role, as well as pushing the ball up the court. All-around players might be better suited to mid-tops, as these offer better ankle support than the low tops, but aren’t bulky like the high-tops.

 

10 Best Youth Basketball Shoes

 

1. Nike Kobe XI

The first thing that jumps out of you, as with all of Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes, is the crazy amount of visual detail on display. These are shoes that want to grab your attention. But then, would you expect anything less from the first basketball professional in history to have two jerseys retired by the same team?
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Flyknit mesh
The flyknit mesh runs along both sides of the shoe, so you know without even needing to try them on that these shoes are lightweight and comfortable.

Breathability
This shoe has a snake-like tongue made of mesh. This allows heat from around the foot to escape up and out of the inside of the shoe

Cost and Value
As with most basketball shoes endorsed by the stars, these shoes aren’t cheap. However, a lot of thought has gone into style and construction, so you’re getting a premium product.
Pros
  • Lightweight, flyknit design
  • Rubber sole 
  • Tight construction 
  • Mesh tongue 
Cons
  • Rubber Grooves collect dust

2. Jordan Nike Air 3 Retro

To understand why kids and adults alike buy this brand you’ve got to understand the legacy. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player who ever lived, he’s the third richest African-American in the USA and he owns his own team in the NBA. But are his shoes any good? In short – yes!
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The Fit
The areas covered with eyelets are a snug fit. You experience a thoroughly locked down shoe from the midfoot to the heel which is important when performing at pace.

The Style
You can’t talk about Jordan’s without mentioning the style. Originally released in 1988 and designed by Tinker Hatfield but back here with a fresh new look.
If style is your game on the court, these are for you.

Cost and Value
Not the cheapest shoes on the market but arguably the coolest. Complete with a sock-liner to provide a comfortable lining whilst decreasing heat build up through friction, these shoes have plenty for fans and serious players.
Pros
  • The Jordan Jumpman logo
  • Durapontex sock liner
  • Rubber non-slip sole
  • Top quality style
Cons
  • Sizes run narrow

3. Reebok SubLite Pro Rise

Quite possibly the lightest of all the youth basketball shoes reviewed here, Reebok SubLite Pro Rise is somewhat of a hidden gem and a classic in the making. Minimalism is the word when it comes to design, but that doesn’t mean these shoes lack quality. There’s plenty of technology packed into these shoes and style to match.
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Shoe Frame
The Sublite Pro Rise has a 3D fuse frame with a brushed synthetic upper means an extremely feather-light ride that you’ll probably forget is even there.

Comfort
If you hold the shoe in your hand, it feels almost weightless. Try the shoe on and tighten up those laces, you’ll find this shoe to be tight, snug and light as air.

Cost and Value
If you’re looking for a pure, no-frills, lightweight experience, the Pro Rise succeeds. If you’re looking for an edge, with these on your feet you won't be playing catch up.
Pros
  • Lace up closure s
  • Rubber outsole 
  • Foot gripping design 
  • Lightweight 
Cons
  • Frame can be quite stiff

4. Converse CT All-Star

4. Converse CT All-Star
Converse began more than a hundred years ago making rubber shoes and galoshes. In 1920 though, they created the All-Star and almost a hundred years later, it’s still a popular shoe. Designed for the basketball court, these shoes are popular with young people everywhere. Simple in design with a canvas upper and rubber sole ready for jump shots, this is a classic.
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Breathable upper
Whether you choose the hi-top or the low-cut variety, chucks as they are commonly known, are made of a very breathable canvas. Your feet will stay dry and comfortable in this sneaker through multiple overtime plays.

Rubber sole
The rubber sole on the All-Star provides great traction on the court. The diamond pattern on the sole grips on the hardwood while thicker patterns of rubber provide shock absorption and support for the heel and ball of the foot.

Cost and Value
This is the least expensive of the basketball shoes on our list. You are getting a classic, functional shoe that is designed for basketball players but is also versatile and popular for other casual wear as well – to school or hanging out with friends.
Pros
  • Rubber sole
  • Canvas upper
  • Breathable shoe
  • Built for the court
  • Color variety
Cons
  • Sizes run large

5. Nike Air Force I

5. Nike Air Force I
The Nike Air Force 1 is a leather and synthetic basketball shoe for young people that will provide comfortable support, and suit most uniform requirements in schools. It’s a good dual-purpose shoe for school as a result. These were the very first Nike Air, changing basketball shoes forever.
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Comfort & durability
This leather shoe with a thicker but airy sole is built to leave your foot comfortable. The shoe itself is very durable and will last several basketball seasons until your player grows out of them. It’s also non-marking which will make the court’s happy.

Nike Air cushioning
This is the first shoe to feature the Nike Air technology which fills the synthetic midsole with air for cushioning and shock absorption. The Air Force I (yes, named after the President’s plane) is extremely comfortable so you can work on layup after layup.

Cost and Value
The Nike Air Force I falls in the mid-range of shoes on our list. It is a very durable shoe which increases its value as you can wear it much longer than many basketball shoes. It was designed for the court but like the Chucks has evolved into a popular shoe for other uses as well.
Pros
  • Air technology
  • Leather upper
  • Well cushioned
  • Very breathable
  • Classic design
Cons
  • Sizes run large

6. Adidas Isolation 2

6. Adidas Isolation 2
One of the most successful shoes from the Adidas range. This is due to the quality craftsmanship that goes into every shoe and a host of technology designed with balance and comfort in mind. This is a shoe for kids who want to hit the court hard but play in comfort.
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Traction and performance
The traction pattern on the sole of this shoe is designed to increase your grip on the court. This increases your agility and dynamic movement, due to reduced slippage.

Cushion material
The Torsion System is an arch support system allowing the forefoot and rearfoot to move independently, helping your foot stay stable and secure without restricting movement.

Cost and Value
Cheaper than most of the shoes on this list yet packed with features, this shoe is a serious choice for those looking for stability, arch support and comfort without the high price tag.
Pros
  • Non marking technology
  • TORSION® SYSTEM 
  • EVA midsole 
  • Sturdy construction
Cons
  • Basic plastic style look

7. Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation

7. Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation
What’s great about these shoes is that they can be worn effectively on the court for serious games and off-court for general playtime.
The subtle styling is basketball influenced with classic perforated upper detailing, whilst the Cloudfoam insole technology gives padded support for competitive time on the court and in the playground.
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Cloudfoam technology
The Cloudfoam technology supports your heel and arch, surrounding your foot in comfort. This means you play harder for longer without developing achy feet.

Subtle style – big game
Whilst many of the new and expensive basketball shoes veer towards big bombastic styling, these shoes are subtle and cool enough to be worn during any time of day.

Cost and Value
These are a sturdy pair of shoes with a low price tag, for active sporty boys who play rough. They’re heavily basketball influenced so look great on the court or in the playground.
Pros
  • Synthetic leather and mesh 
  • Cloudfoam foot bed
  • Rubber outsole for grip
  • Supreme comfort textile lining
Cons
  • Sizes run large

8. Nike Lebron XIII

8. Nike Lebron XIII
Lebron James is arguably the best player in the NBA today. Here’s a basketball shoe that carries his name so it needs to be as dynamic as he is on the court. Traction needs to be top rate when you think about the moves that he makes, as does flexibility and support for those quick bursts of speed. Is it good enough for Lebron? You bet. Here’s why.
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Materials
The upper is comprised of a one piece with different overlays offering support when you need it most. At the base is a sock compartment followed by flywire. All this adds up to a comfortable ride.

Support
Lebron has a wide base that feels stable. It’s slightly wider then the upper that means it hugs the foot tightly. There are plenty of areas with flex for greater mobility on the court.

Cost and Value
Great shoe with a big price tag. In terms of cutting-edge design, ultimate precision, responsiveness, air cushioning and elevated lockdown, you’ll be one step ahead in these shoes.
Pros
  • Nike air cushioning
  • Hex pod traction system
  • Support and flexibility
  • Snug fit
  • Flexible support
Cons
  • Zero stretch

9. Adidas Superstar

9. Adidas Superstar
This shoe is modeled after the adult version with a signature shell toe and 3-stripes branding but it is cushioned for smaller feet and available in a variety of kid-friendly colors in the stripes and the upper. The shoe will perform on the basketball court or most other activities that your young player is involved in and it will last long after they’ve grown out of them.
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Durable upper
The leather upper on this shoe is very durable and easy to clean. It will hold up to your child’s game on the court, after school 1 on 1 games, and all days at school. With a thicker rubber sole, its grip will also last.

Multiple color choices
Kids like to express themselves as much or more than older folks and a large number of color choices (in the stripe and in the upper) allows them to do just that. Bright red, black, white, pink and blues will provide a different shoe for every kid’s tastes.

Cost and Value
This shoe falls into the lower range of prices on our list. It’s a great deal given its durability, cushioning, function on the court and choice of color that your child will enjoy. It will last until they need another size up so you get great value for the money.
Pros
  • Leather upper
  • Easy to clean
  • Rubber grippy sole
  • Choice of colors
  • Classic style
Cons
  • Sizes run large

10. Under Armour Jet Mid

10. Under Armour Jet Mid
Under Armour is all about quality and performance, which is great if you’re looking to improve your speed on the court. The lightweight leather material means less weight on your feet that helps to reduce fatigue. This also means it’s perfect for bursts of speed when the action heats up.
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Full length EVA sock liner
The full-length sock liner provides an extra layer of padding, ensuring that your feet are comfortable regardless of what you put them through on the basketball court.

Full-length rubber outsole
Like the Nike KD 8 mentioned earlier, these shoes have a herringbone pattern rubber outsole. Superior grip on the court means minimizing slippage and preventing injury.

Cost and Value
Mid-priced but highly recommended, but if you’re looking for a brand that invests in quality and craftsmanship. Great if you need to work on your speed as well as your linear/lateral movement on the court.
Pros
  • Breathable, structured support
  • Full length EVA sock liner
  • Perforations for ventilation
  • Lightweight comfortable ride
  • Herringbone traction
Cons
  • Narrow fit

Choosing the right basketball shoe is an important decision you can make for your children’s playing career. This is because basketball is an active and up-tempo sport, requiring dynamic sprinting, jumping, and quick changes of direction on the court. These factors all contribute to ensuring you make the best choice in footwear to suits your child’s playing style.

Having the right basketball shoes can help your young player excel on the court. This gives him or her the confidence to make quick decisions knowing that their basketball shoes will support their every move. This, in turn, is enough to help turn a game. With the right shoe, the risk of foot and ankle injuries is greatly reduced, providing you with peace of mind.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Youth Basketball Shoes
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There were a number of factors at play when it came to choosing the ten best basketball shoes for youths. Here is a breakdown of some of the things we looked at when sorting through what is available.

Type of Shoe

High top

  • Players for whom physical contact is a big part of their game prefer these shoes. Power players tend to wear these a lot because they’ll often be grabbing the ball on rebounds and carry out jump shots, so the extra cushioning and support around their ankles help when landing back down on the court.

Low top

  • These types of basketball shoes are designed for players with quick bursts of speed. They’re smaller, offering less drag and weight, and are designed for players with dynamic movement, using their agility to get to the basket or achieve their goals.
  • They’re also designed with traction in mind, to minimize the chance of slippage or injury on quick turns. However, this does come at a cost and in this shoe’s case, it lacks ankle support that most players need when landing from slam-dunking the ball, or jump shots.

Mid-top

  • These types of shoes are generally for the all-rounders aka the players that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty wherever they are on the court. They don’t restrict the ankles as much as high tops but will have a limited amount of ankle support, which is good for landing after big jumps. The pay off is that these shoes are lighter than high tops, and players will be able to move around the court more dynamically.

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Durability

Young people are hard on shoes. Parents are aware like no one else how quickly an active kid can burn through a shoe. This is especially true of kids involved in sports that are heavy on the footwork – soccer, basketball, tennis, track.

To get the best value for your money, we looked for shoes that would be very durable and would at least have a chance at lasting until your child is ready for his or her next size up. There are a lot of elements that go into a durable shoe. We look at the quality of sole, the material quality, how the upper is build, what the cushioning is made from and we read a lot of reviews to determine whether or not a shoe is built to last. Some of the things that you can look out for are:

  • Strong uppers – Leather makes a very durable upper material. It’s natural and tough, able to stretch a little to adapt to a foot while also being able to resist breakdown from pressure, friction, and rubbing. Most of the shoes in our list are made with leather uppers.
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  • Strong laces – your child’s foot puts a lot of pressure on his or her shoes during a basketball game.  Good strong laces help to ensure that the foot is not slipping around inside the shoe while allowing the shoe to move with the child, providing support for those sudden bursts of movement and movement from side to side.
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  • Rubber soles – Rubber soles do more than give great traction on hardwood.  Rubber is a natural and durable material that resists wear better than some sole choices.  Synthetic and hardened rubbers (like vulcanized or carbonized rubber) are that much more wear resistant.
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  • Compressible midsoleThe midsole offers shock absorption and cushion.  It is usually made of a foam material and depending on the quality of the foam, it can collapse.  We looked for shoes (and read the reviews) that had a compressible but strong midsole that won’t give out easily under the beating that your child will give them.

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Player Endorsed Shoes

It’s important for kids to have heroes, and some of the top professional players in the NBA have their own line of shoes. Whilst they’re more expensive then shoes that aren’t endorsed, the feel-good factor you can get from wearing those shoes can lift your game. Therefore I’ve not been afraid to pick endorsed shoes for the list, in most cases this also means that the technology built into the shoe is of a high quality. I also wanted to make sure that this was a balanced list so a number of unendorsed shoes are also featured.

This is a list of the endorsed shoes on the list and brief history of the player who has endorsed it.

  • Jordan Nike Air Retro – Endorsed by Michael Jordan
    Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a retired professional basketball player, who is considered by most to be the greatest player who ever lived.
    Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.
    He started his NBA career in 1984, where Jordan was voted in as an All-Star in his rookie year.
    By the 1987 to 1988 season, Jordan was the lead scorer in the NBA, averaging 35 points per game.
    His main achievements include being named the NBA’s most valuable player five times, winning the NBA championship six times, NBA defensive player of the year, NBA all-star on 14 occasions, three of which he was voted All-Star MVP. He’s won the NBA slam-dunk competition twice, defensive player of the year once, and won two Olympic medals. Since retiring, he’s also been named as the third richest African American in the USA. Not bad at all…
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  • Nike Lebron XIII – Endorsed by Lebron James
    Lebron Raymore James is a professional basketball player for the NBA, considered by many to be the best basketball player on the court today.
    He started his professional career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft. In his first regular season game, he scored 25 points against the Sacramento Kings.
    James has won many awards and championships, including Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and three NBA championships. He even has earned himself two Olympic Gold medals, a very impressive achievement. He is the Cavaliers all-time scoring leader, has scored more than any other player during All-Star games, more points than any other player in Play-Off history, and he has been selected for the NBA All-Star Team 2018 with his own side, – Team Lebron. In 2018 he also became the youngest player in history to reach 30,000 points at just 33 years old.
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  • Nike Kobe XI – Endorsed by Kobe Bryant
    Kobe Bryant is the only player whom Michael Jordan said could beat him in a one on one, and that was because he stole all his moves!
    Kobe is a retired professional basketball player, and the only player in NBA history to have two of his jersey numbers retired.
    The son of NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe was always going to excel at the sport and having played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he became a legend in the process.
    In 2010, Kobe became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points at the age of 34, a record that was only beaten in 2018 by Lebron James at the age of 33.
    Amongst his other achievements, Kobe scored a career high of 81 points during a game which is the second highest for a player in NBA history, a gold medal in the Olympics, led the NBA in scoring from 2005 to 2007, selected for 18 All-Star teams, won the NBA dunk competition in 1997, and that’s just for starters!

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is the best basketball shoe?
A: It depends on the criteria for your question. There are three main types of basketball shoes including High Top, Mid Top, and Low Top. Which one you prefer will depend greatly on the position you play.  You can read more about these in our Criteria section above.

Q: What is the best basketball shoe for Point Guards?
A: Point guards are expected to be light on their feet, shift quickly on turns, explosive at the right moments, and quite often lead the team on the court. This requires a basketball shoe that is going to allow a player to be dynamic and which must feature plenty of traction.
To fit this bill, I’d go with a low top. You’re going to lose the ankle support, but you’ll gain speed and agility, as this is a much lighter shoe with plenty of traction.

Q: What is the best basketball shoe for ankle support?
A:
Many basketball players sprain their ankles from time to time; it’s inevitable with all of the twists and turns, jumps and landings, fast breaks and the hard defense that comes with the game.
That’s why a basketball shoe with good ankle support is essential for those looking for the best projection. To offset the risk against injury, go for the high top.

The Nike Lebron XIII is a high top packed with technology and excellent ankle support. Not many shoes look beyond the ankle to offer full feet support; however, this beast from the boffins at Nike offers just that. Be warned though, this is a very technical shoe which will look great and do the business on the court, but might not look so hot out on the street!

Q: What is the best basketball shoe brand?
A: Interesting question, there have been some classics come and go over the years.
Anybody remember the Reebok Pumps? At one time these were the major competition for Nike. These days they tend to focus on light and comfortable technology in their basketball shoes, rather than requiring players to pump away at the round orange squeezy thing which used to be on the tongue, all for a little bit of extra support.
Under Armour have been coming out with some excellent shoes recently, using their know-how to deliver some seriously good shoes packed with protective features, great looks, and solid comfort.
There’s an old saying whereby if something isn’t broke, why fix it? And the Nike Air shoe range has been working well for decades.
From legacy shoes like the Nike Air Jordan’s to modern classics such as Nike KD, and rock solid performers like the Lebron range, players have been queuing up to get their names attached to the Nike brand. There can be only one, and Nike rules the roost.

Q: What are the best basketball shoes for outdoor courts?
A:
These days, most basketball shoes are so light and thin; they wouldn’t last long on an outdoor court. That’s certainly something to bear in mind next time you buy an expensive pair of basketball shoes.
There are some shoes released throughout the year which are outdoor specific, but these can be hard to find because they’re not often endorsed by the big name professional players. You’re best going for an all-around type of shoe if you’re thinking about mixing up your game between court play and streetball.
On the above list, take a look at Adidas Cloud foam IIation Mid K. The styling is basketball inspired and the cloud foam technology gives added comfort and support, but they’re also hard wearing which makes them perfect for play out on the street.

Sources

  1. Sharon O'Neil, How to Choose the Right Basketball Shoe, online article, Sep 11, 2017
  2. Nightwing2303, How to Pick the Perfect Pair of Basketball Shoes for Your Style of Play, online article, Oct 11, 2013


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