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 court and decrease the likelihood of foot or ankle injury; this is why most basketball shoes are expensive and in limited supply. Due the technology and craftsmanship that goes into creating these shoes, the average pair will range from $100 to $150; if you like the high end styles, you could be handing over more than 200 bucks. Whatever the price tag, as a minimum level make sure the shoe you want has good ankle support, durability and traction.
- Nike KD 8
- Nike Flyweave
- Zoom Air unit
- Adidas Cloudfoam ILation
- Mesh tongue
- Synthetic Lining
- Adidas Performance Isolation 2
- Torsion System
- EVA midsole
Identifying the playing style is also of vital importance, because it can determine which type of sneaker 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-top’s, as these offer better ankle support then the low tops, but aren’t bulky like the high-tops.
10 Best Youth Basketball Shoes
1. Nike KD 8
The incredible Flyweave construction made it’s debut with the more expensive air Jordan, however unlike the air Jordan, the KD8 has a full length cushion making this a much better shoe on the court. Designed to be lightweight and flexible, so if you move quickly this shoe will support your every decision.
Nike KD8 has an articulated, full length zoom air unit that responds and adapts, feeling super springy and explosive without becoming unstable.
The modified herringbone traction system looks like it’s been designed by boffins from the future and will stop you from sliding across the court.
Cost and Value
These have many of the features you’ll find on shoes with bigger price tags. That’s why Nike KD8 tops the list. It an all-around shoe that performs superbly, looks great and wont let you down.
- Rubber Sole Traction
- Articulated Air Cushioning
- Flyweave Material
- Form Fitting Upper for Support
- Flywire cables
- Fit – try on first in case you have to go up half size.
- Durability – rubber sole means potential durability issues
2. Adidas Cloudfoam ILation
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.
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 on low price tag, for active sporty boys who play rough. They’re heavily basketball influenced so look great on court or in the playground.
- Synthetic leather and mesh upper
- Cloudfoam foot bed
- Rubber outsole for grip
- Supreme comfort textile lining
- Durability – Stitching may come loose after heavy use
- Can size up quite big – Check before buying
3. Adidas Performance Isolation 2
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.
The Torsion System is an arch support system allowing the forefoot and rear foot to move independently, helping your foot stay stable and secure without restricting movement.
Cost and Value
Cheaper then 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.
- Non marking technology
- TORSION® SYSTEM mid foot tech
- EVA midsole for added lightweight cushioning
- Sturdy construction
- Soles are made of rubber and therefore may come apart after heavy use
- Basic plastic style look
4. Jordan Nike Air 3 Retro
The areas covered with eyelets are a snug fit. You experience a thoroughly locked down shoe from the mid foot to the heel which is important when performing at pace.
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.
- The Jordan Jumpman logo
- Durapontex sock liner
- Rubber non-slip sole
- Top quality style
- Because of the popularity of the shoe, make sure you buy from a reputable retailer to avoid purchasing a fake
- Tight fit may cause pinching, ensure you try before you buy
5. Under Armour Jet Mid
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 minimising slippage and preventing injury.
Cost and Value
Mid priced but highly recommended, buy 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.
- Breathable, structured support
- Full length EVA sock liner
- Perforations and mesh tongue for increased ventilation
- Lightweight comfortable ride
- Herringbone traction for ultimate grip
- Narrow fit
- Inner sock may cause friction
6. Nike Lebron XIII
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.
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 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.
- Nike air cushioning
- Hex pod traction system
- Support and flexibility
- Snug fit
- Flexible support
- Zero stretch
- Padding angle on the ankle may cause some initial discomfort
7. Reebok SubLite Pro Rise
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.
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 wont be playing catch up.
- Lace up closure system for a better fit
- Rubber outsole for increased grip
- Narrow design tightly holds feet
- Lightweight for explosive play on court
- 3D fuse frame can be quite stiff
- Orange color is dangerously close to pink and may be enough to put some boys off!
8. Nike Kobe XI
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.
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.
- Lightweight, flyknit design
- Rubber sole for increased grip
- Tight construction grips your feet
- Mesh tongue allows heat to escape the shoe
- Rubber Groves on the outsole can collect dust
- Snugness in the toe box may take some breaking in
9. Under Armour ClutchFit Drive 3
This shoes lockdown lacing is a simple innovation, by placing the mid foot in a stranglehold there’s no chance of the foot shifting outside the shoe, minimizing any chance of injury.
This third edition moved away from its plush, comfortable predecessor. Replaced with ‘Charged and Micro G’ layered together created a lower, stiffer feel. Perfect for guard play.
Cost and Value
A vast improvement on the previous design, if you are looking for traction that sticks to the court, cushioning that is controlled and responsive, these shoes have earn their price tag.
- Great design, good looks
- Comfortable and stable on the court
- Locked down laces means minimal foot movement in the shoe
- Flexible materials
- Shoes may come up small so try before you buy
- Made from synthetic material which is not to everyone’s taste
10. Fila F13
What set’s these shoes apart from most of the others on this list is its material. They’re made of real leather! So if you prefer your shoes made the old fashioned way, then these are for you.
Mid Top Design
This shoe has a mid top design that has ankle support in mind. With an adjustable Velcro strap at the collar, you can be sure of a snug fit.
Cost and Value
For a basketball shoe on a budget, you get a lot for your money here, and genuine leather too! The die-cut EVA midsole will also absorb shock and combat foot fatigue too.
- Old Skool leather design
- Shock absorbent midsole
- Supportive, flexible fit
- Ventilation eyelets which help heat escape
- Leather construction may scuff easily
- Heavier on the feet then other brands
Choosing the right basketball shoe is one of the important decisions 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 that 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.
One thing that can’t be overstated is the need to try before you buy. Get your kid to take a walk around in the shoes and remember that if the shoe is uncomfortable in store, that feeling will only increase on game day. Don’t pay the big bucks for shoes that aren’t the right fit. Rather, get to know your kids game and chose a pair that will enhance their style of play.
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
- 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 helps when landing back down on the court.
- 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 shoes case it lacks ankle support that most players need when landing from slam-dunking the ball, or jump shots.
- These types of shoes are generally for the all-rounder’s 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 then high tops, and players will be able to move around the court more dynamically.
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.
- Nike KD 8 – Endorsed by Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is a professional players on the Golden State Warriors.
He started his professional career with the Seattle Supersonics in 2008, for whom he scored 18 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals against the Denver Nuggets in his first game on the team. After his rookie season the team relocated to Oklahoma City and the team became known as The Thunder.
Since beginning his professional career, he has won many awards and obtained numerous achievements through both the NBA and the Olympics.
In 2018, Kevin Durant has been picked for the All-Star team in Los Angeles, where he was Team LeBron’s first team pick.
- Jordan Nike Air 3 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…
- 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 then any other player during All Star games, more points then 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.
- 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 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!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who makes the best basketball shoes?
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.
If we were talking legacy and looks, then I’d go with the Air Jordan’s. These are frankly incredible shoes that were introduced to us way back in 1985. During that time the design of these shoes went against team policy, so every time Michael Jordan stepped out on the court in them he was fined $5000, a fee that Nike were only too happy to pay to market their brand.
The best basketball shoes available today is a tricky question to answer, personally I’d have to go with Nike KD range. Their made out of a fly weave material and are flexible and light packed with all of the technology you’d expect in a Nike basketball shoe. If they’re good enough for Kevin Durant, one of the most exciting players in the NBA today, who am I to argue!
Q: Who makes the best basketball shoes 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.
On the above top ten list, the Nike Kobe XI is an excellent example of everything a low top shoe needs to be, and the styling looks pretty darn amazing too.
Q: Who makes the best basketball shoes 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 hard defence 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 offer 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 then 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 rule 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 their not often endorsed by the big name professional players. You’re best going for an all round type of shoe if you’re thinking about mixing up your game between court play and street ball.
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.
- How to Choose the Right Basketball Shoe, online article, Sep 11, 2017 ,
- How to Pick the Perfect Pair of Basketball Shoes for Your Style of Play, online article, Oct 11, 2013 ,