Best Youth Basketball Shoes Reviewed & Rated
When looking for a good pair of court shoes, you have to balance features that will advance your game and those that will keep your feet comfortable and protected. Whether you are a post player or point guard, we’ve picked out some of the best youth basketball shoes and evaluated them to help you pick out your kid’s perfect pair. Post players are constantly moving and shifting with their feet. For these types of players, high tops can be a good choice, as they provide strong ankle support; however, they also tend to be heavier and create a drag on speed of movement. For ball handlers, low tops provide flexibility and offer a high speed of movement to get the ball up the court. Finally, for all-around players, something in between a high and low top can give you the best of both worlds.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 19 hrs of research
- Nike Kobe XI
- Nike Air Force 1
- Converse CT All-Star
- Adidas Superstar
- Under Armour Jet Mid
- Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation
- Adidas Isolation 2
- Nike Lebron XIII
- Reebok SubLite Pro Rise
- Jordan Nike Air 3 Retro
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Youth Basketball Shoes
1. Nike Kobe XI
Rubber Grooves Collect Stones
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?Read more
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.
2. Nike Air Force 1
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.Read more
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.
3. 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.Read more
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.
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.
4. Adidas Superstar
Easy to Clean
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.Read more
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 one on one 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.
5. Under Armour Jet Mid
EVA Sock Liner
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.Read more
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.
6. 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.
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.
7. 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.Read more
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.
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.
8. Nike Lebron XIII
Air Cushioned Midsole
Hex-pod Traction System
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.Read more
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 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.
9. 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.Read more
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 won't be playing catch up.
10. Jordan Nike Air 3 Retro
Durapontex Sock Liner
Rubber Non-slip Sole
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!Read more
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.
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.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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, as 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-around player. 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.
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 durable and at least have a chance at lasting until your child is ready for his or her next size up. 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.
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.
Rubber Soles: Rubber soles do more than give great traction on the 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 much more wear-resistant.
Compressible Midsole: The midsole offers shock-absorption and cushioning. It is usually made of a foam material and depending on the quality of the foam, it can collapse. We looked for shoes that had a compressible but strong midsole that won’t give out easily under the beating that your child will give them.
Many professional NBA players also have their own line of shoes. Sometimes, this is just simple branding; but often, player-endorsed shoes contain quality materials with a solid construction and technology that will boost your kid’s game.
Jordan Nike Air Retro – Endorsed by Michael Jordan
Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a retired professional basketball player and 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.
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!
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.
Comfort can be found in all aspects of a good running shoe. Basketball shoes know how important it is to ease the pressure on your feet during the twisting and turning on the court and aims to use their designs to help players enhance their optimal performance.
Starting from basic features like a padded tongue and collar, the smallest enhancements can sometimes be the most essential. Since the tongue and collar of the shoe is what comes most in contact with the foot, it’s important to have this cushion there to prevent the possibility of friction. These contact areas can create irritation and blisters which is why many of these shoes lines are built with comfortable cushioning to protect your skin.
The flexibility of a basketball shoe is not an element, but rather a feature that must be present in each element of the shoe separately. When shopping for performance shoes, you must make sure that the frame, upper build, and the sole are flexible enough to practice sports with. Flexibility is the very base of most motions you can possibly make with your feet, and if your shoes lack it, you are opening yourself up to stress and tension, especially in the arch of the foot. Look for basketball shoes that offer flexibility in the soles, which will allow your feet to move naturally when running and jumping.
This is a feature that, like many others, should be present but not in excess. The flexibility of a material is inversely proportional to its support; meaning that as a shoe material gets more flexible it starts to lose its structure and fails to hold the foot in place.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
One of the more critical areas to look at in basketball shoes, is around the ankle for support and stability. High tops generally are made to help stabilize the ankle, so coming down from jumps or blocks at awkward angles won't result in injury. Many now are constructed with reinforced sides for better lateral ankle stability as well.
If your children are just starting out in basketball, one of the best ways to get them involved is through a league team. While highschool teams and athletic programs can help them put their skills to use, intramural leagues and summer camps are a great place to learn basics, master drills, and improve overall skills.
Other Factors to Consider
Choosing the right footwear is an important decision that you’ll make for your child’s career. This is because basketball is an active and up-tempo sport, requiring dynamic sprinting, jumping, and quick changes of direction. Although all the shoes on this list were selected because they reviewed positively and have the latest technology and features for comfort, knowing your child’s playing style will help you narrow down the perfect pair. Happy hunting!
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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!
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. Your best bet is going for an all-around type of shoe if you’re thinking about mixing up your game between court play and street ball.
Given the high-intensity and foot-shifting nature of the game, we don’t recommend it. From the rubber sole to the cushioned midsole, basketball shoes were designed for one purpose: to play basketball. Sneakers are a general shoe, often made for fashion or basic walking and running. They don’t contain the level of support and traction that a basketball shoe offers.
Always follow the care instructions on the label or the shoebox. If you don’t have the label or box, check out the manufacturer’s website, as most reputable manufacturers will have their care guides online. If you only have to treat a stain spot, you can usually use some Dawn dish soap on a Q-tip, and add some water to massage out the stain. Be aware some fabrics will not take kindly to this, so only use it on leather, canvas, cotton or plastic synthetics.
- 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 ,