Are Basketball Shoes Comfortable?

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You've probably considered 'are basketball shoes comfortable?' if you play the sport or simply wear the shoes on a daily basis.

The majority of the best basketball shoes are designed for protection by providing loads of ankle support and cushioning, but we're here to talk you through whether these additions actually make them enjoyable to wear.

Let's start with the cushioning...

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Are Basketball Shoes Comfortable? - Cushioning

Basketball shoes are filled with padding, particularly in the midsole, to absorb the shock from high-impact landings and, therefore, protect your ankles.

We mention in our guide of the best basketball shoes for jumping that sneakers, like the Jordan XXXVI's, integrate Zoom Air technology which is designed to distribute the force felt after landing a jump.

Nike Air Jordan basketball shoe product image of a singular white and gold sneaker
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Image Credit: Air Jordan

So, by conserving your legs through a softer impact, you can assume that they'd be comfortable on your feet, particularly after an explosive leap or during general play.

For everyday use, you ideally want a highly supportive shoe which is something a basketball sneaker can provide, for example, APL integrate 10 coil springs between the top and bottom sole plates to mainly enhance your jump, but the springs also double as extra support.

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Are Basketball Shoes Comfortable? - The Fit

We've talked about how a basketball shoe should fit before, but it is worth mentioning again because, if your sneakers don't fit properly, they'll probably be uncomfortable.

In terms of the length, Clarks recommend leaving about one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe which is something that can be applied to basketball trainers as well.

Moreover, you should aim to feel a bend near the balls of your feet and not around the midsoles as this would indicate your shoes are too loose and may result in blisters, foot pain, and potentially more serious problems like breaking your ankles whilst playing.

Upcoming releases like the Air Jordan 11 Adapt incorporate Nike's FitAdapt technology, designed to provide the perfect lock-in through 'self-lacing' mechanics.

Are Basketball Shoes Comfortable? - Stiffness

Basketball shoes tend to be made from stiff materials like synthetic leather and, in LeBron 18's case, tightly woven Knitposite.

Nike basketball shoe product image of a pair of black shoes with green details
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Image Credit: Nike

This is, again, down to preserving your body, especially your ankles, to prevent them from rolling - does this, however, make them less comfortable?

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Jeffrey Taylor, a physical therapist and biomechanist at High Point University, believes if you change one area of a shoe, like the stiffness, it may improve certain areas such as ankle support but may worsen others, like comfort.

We feel, in terms of playing a game, the pros of using stiffer materials outway the potential cons of decreased comfort, however, you may find, for everyday use, a pair of top running shoes to be more comfortable for example.

Are Basketball Shoes Comfortable?

On the whole, we feel basketball shoes should be comfortable to use for both training and matches, especially considering their primary purpose is to be used for the sport.

In fact, a 2017 report from Morgan Stanley estimated Nike invested about $2.5 billion into overall research and development across a 5 year period so, one can assume, some of that research is dedicated to improving the levels of comfort.

However, as touched on in our comparison of basketball shoes and running trainers, for everyday use, you may find lighter and flexible shoes more comfortable and, with running shoes, in particular, they are typically built for forward motion which is more natural for everyday life.