How Should Basketball Shoes Fit?

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You've probably asked yourself 'how should basketball shoes fit?' if you've ever been on the hunt for a new pair of sneakers to take to the court.

If this is something you've been trying to figure out, don't worry.

We've put together this guide to talk you through each area to determine how your sneakers are supposed to fit to help you perform to the best of your ability with your top basketball out on the court.

So, with that being said, let's start with the toe box...

Basketball Shoes Fit - The Toe Box

The toe box refers to the front half of the shoe where, predictably, your toes sit, and in basketball shoes, like the new Dame 7 EXTPLY's, this is typically a fairly wide area.

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How should basketball shoes fit adidas product image of a single read sneaker with 'opponent advisory' written in white on the side.
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Image Credit: adidas

Similar to most trainers, you don't want to feel as though your toes are restricted and crammed together inside your shoes, but you also don't want to leave so much space that you feel off-balance and out of control.

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An improper toe fit can lead to a number of problems including an increased likelihood of rolling your ankle, blistering, and calluses, so it's important to get it right.

Clarks recommend you leave about one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe, and this should also be applied to basketball shoes as you want to ensure your toes have enough room to move freely to avoid lateral compression.

Basketball Shoes Fit - Ankle Support

The most common injuries in basketball involve the ankle which is why finding a pair of shoes with good support is vital.

Ideally, you want the upper part of your trainers to fit firmly around your ankle with the ability to tighten it to your discretion with laces in order to provide maximum support.

Some sneakers like the upcoming Air Jordan 11 Adapts feature self-lacing technology, designed to ensure the perfect lock-in so you're both comfortable and supported during a match.

High top shoes, like the Nike LeBron 18's found in our best basketball shoes list, may seem like the best option for keeping your ankles secure, but in actuality, a study on 10,000 Australian basketball players found no link to high or low tops being a major risk factor for ankle injuries.

If you want to find out more about high-top sneakers then check out our guide on whether high or low tops are best for basketball.

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Nike basketball shoe product image of a pair of black shoes with white soles
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Image Credit: Nike

What is key to the protection of your ankles is the insoles and cushioning as these will both help to absorb the shock felt from high-impact landings after attempting a layup in a top basketball hoop.

Like the Nike's seen above, or the new Under Armour Lockdown 5's, trainers with added cushioning and technology like Air Max in the heel are vital for ankle protection.

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Basketball Shoes Fit - Width and Bend

This area essentially covers the middle part of your foot or, more simply, the widest areas area.

With the correct fit, a basketball shoe will bend near the balls of your feet and not around the midsoles as this would indicate your trainers are too loose.

Feeling the bend around the midsole can lead to blisters, foot pain, and potentially more serious problems like breaking your ankles as you won't be secure inside your shoes.

Basketball Shoes Fit - Heel Counter

The heel counter refers to the support your trainers provide to prevent your heel from sliding in any direction.

It is recommended that your heel should feel firm and snug within your shoes in order to keep your feet stable and secure.

Having some slight motion side to side is fine as this should help with comfort, but the key is not to feel your shoes sliding up and down as this would indicate they're too big.

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So, How Should Basketball Shoes Fit?

We think one of the most important things to remember is all feet are different so finding the right fit isn't necessarily a simple task.

In fact, a 2011 Footwear Science study found that there are differences between the fit of basketball shoes and their perceived comfort which might make finding the right fit even trickier.

The bottom line is basketball shoes should fit snug to your feet around the midsoles, heels, and around your ankles for added protection, but having some space for your toes is key to avoiding compression and discomfort.

Most basketball shoe manufacturers have a handy size guide to help you pick the perfect fit, so make sure to measure your foot and compare it to the charts before buying.

If you're into basketball shoes through watching the NBA, then check out our top TVs for sports games to watch your favourite teams in the best quality possible.