Choosing your new pair of basketball shoes has become increasingly difficult. So many factors flow through your mind when scouring the web and the wide selection in-store add to the overwhelming feeling. Hopefully this list will help you in your future quest to find the perfect hoop shoe for your game, break it down and make it simple. Here are 10 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Your Next Pair of Basketball Sneakers.
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No. 10 - Style
Style is the last thing you should consider when looking for a new hoop shoe, but let’s face the fact that this is one of the first things you tend to look at when making a decision and most times you regret the purchase. Just because something looks nice doesn’t mean it will play nice. Be careful when you are on the hunt for a new pair and don't get distracted by advertisements, athlete endorsements and the flashy colorways that are designed to draw you in.
No. 9 - Durability
Durability is important. You don’t want a shoe that will fall apart on you in a matter of weeks and you definitely don’t want a Matt Bonner incident where your shoe decides to fall apart on you in the middle of a game. As the dawn of the lightweight sneaker is in full effect, it’s not going to be easy finding a pair that is a durable, but it can be done. Read along and we'll tell you how.
No. 8 - Materials
Your material choice will typically dictate just how durable your sneakers are. If you choose a plastic-based synthetic then the upper will be more likely to withstand damage, while raw materials will give you the nicest and most luxurious feel but will get beat up. The one good thing about having so many options is that there is literally something for everyone so no matter what it is you want, it’s probably out there.
No. 7 - Fit
Materials tie into a shoe's potential durability the same way a shoe's fit ties into its materials. Sneakers today are constructed and shaped on a narrow last which is perfectly fine for the narrow and normal footed individuals, but not so kind to those with wide feet. If you choose a shoe that features durable plastic-based synthetics, prepare yourself for a painful experience. Going up ½ size usually works, but is not advised as you will being throwing off the placement for certain attributes such as support. If you have wide feet, you may want to run with a shoe that is constructed with raw materials, like leathers and suede, since these will break-in and stretch over time.
No. 6 - Outsole
Picking out a sneaker with great traction has become easy lately, but making sure the outsole is able to play on multiple surfaces is another story. The rubbers used for performance models are everywhere and cater to specific courts whereas back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, shoes were usually able to withstand a variety of surfaces. Make sure to look at the rubber's thickness, softness and pattern when looking for a new pair. The Kobe 8 is a good example of a shoe that was designed for indoor use (the rubber is really soft), but there are XDR (Extra Durable Rubber) options available on NIKEiD as well as the pairs released in China which are labeled as ‘GC’.
No. 5 - Cushion
Is the shoe comfortable? Honestly, it’s hard to pick out a shoe that isn’t with today’s technology. However, there are different attributes that come along with different cushion sources and it all really comes down to which one you prefer. Foam cushions and air-based cushioning are your two best choices; the main difference between the two is responsiveness.
Yes, there are other differences but we don’t want you to sit here for a whole day reading about them so here's what you need to know: air-based cushions are typically more responsive than foam which means they return a bit of the energy that you put into them. Foam cushions are becoming increasingly more responsive with the more recent renditions but they won’t stay responsive long term.
So depending on how often you wish to swap sneakers comes into play here. If you buy a new pair once a year, go with an air cushion as it will last you longer, but if you get a new pair every few month then a foam cushion will be sufficient enough.
No. 4 - Skill Level
Hype can be a real distraction when it comes to sneaker purchases but keep a level head about everything and you won’t run into problems. Certain shoes with high price points are geared towards the elite athlete. If you are a once-a-week player, then you probably don’t need the latest and greatest technology and you'll get by just fine with an average sneaker. Does that mean that you are supposed to hoop in a pair of Chucks? Of course not, you can still get the latest shoe by simply buying a sneaker from last year at an outlet that will still boast performance but at a fraction of the price.
No. 3 - Body Type and Size
This is fairly important to consider when you are looking at signature sneakers. The signature model you may be interested in is built specifically for that player, for instance, LeBron is a big guy that needs a lot of support which translates into less mobility for smaller players. A Kobe or Rose signature is low to the ground and light which is perfect for smaller players. Don’t worry, there are neutral signature shoes, such as the KD line, that are really made for an all-around player, and even though Durant is tall, he isn’t massive so he requires a certain level of support while still allowing flexibility for mobility. Then there are team models which are perfect for everyone as are one the most well rounded options available.
No. 2 - Price
Live within your means. This is the easiest way to explain it. $250 for a sneaker is pretty steep but that’s where certain models are headed. Keep in mind that it’s not where all models are headed. Set a budget and stick to it, simple as that.
No. 1 - It Isn't the Sneakers
Shoes won’t make you better, after all, they’re just shoes. Certain sneakers and brands can give you confidence and inflate an ego but they will not make you play better. Sneakers are just tools to help make you more comfortable on the court, nothing more, nothing less.