Starting young in a sport like basketball is not a must but is definitely an advantage. But how do you ensure you have the edge over opponents every time you step on the court? Having the best youth basketball shoes will surely help!
Like every basketball fan, kids do follow their favorite ballers and probably dream of getting the LeBrons, The Freaks, or the Kyries. Well, it’s not as easy as pie. Every factor should be considered, such as design, your body size, the court where you play in, and your playing position. Other less critical variables are colorways and stuff that contribute to aesthetics. It is not rocket science, but you still have to think it through. Only then will you find what works best for you.
And to help ease the “thinking through” process, we have reviewed the best youth basketball shoes for you.
If you want to get back to playing basketball, get our top pick for best youth basketball shoes here.
Our Favorites For The Best Youth Basketball Shoes
Nothing excites a kid more than playing on Nikes, so we put the Swoosh in here first as part of our most recommended youth basketball shoes:
What Makes It Unique:
- Possibly the best Nike high-tops you’ll find with its quality and price. These shoes are built to last!
- The upper is made of synthetic leather, so it has this sleek look. However, the upper was combined with a mesh to provide breathability. No smelly feet!
- It doesn’t have an old-school look, but it’s also not too modern. That means the Nike Kids' Team Hustle D 8 will never go out of style as long as Nike decides to continue making them.
Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a perfect shoe. Just like any other shoe, you will face issues. What seems to be a widespread problem among Nike shoes is the fit. Most of their sneakers, including the Nike Kids' Team Hustle D 8, while fitting true to size, runs a little narrow. It may feel a little snug at the top, so it may be best to cop a pair half a size up if you are a wide-footer.
Why Choose The Team Hustle D 8:
- The Nike Kids' Team Hustle D 8 is designed for kids accordingly– not quite ready for adult shoes but can handle the movements of an active kid.
- The Velcro strap keeps the laces in place while giving you the “lockdown feel.” It’s not exactly the best thing since sliced bread, but kids often play through loose laces, dragging them all over. Not only would that make the laces dirty, but it would also damage it, not to mention the fact that it could lead to injuries over stumbling on your loose lace.
- Its midsole is Phylon, making it very responsive and light but is slimmer than most midsoles.
- Leather upper provides durable support
- Midfoot hook-and-loop strap locks down a secure fit
- Lightweight foam midsole offers flexible cushioning
Another one of our favorites is the Nike Kids KD 8 basketball shoes. Sure, since it’s a signature shoe, it’s pricier than most sneakers included in our recommendations. However, you need to check out this shoe first and see how great it is.
What Makes It Unique:
- The traction (featuring a modern-looking herringbone pattern), the full-length Air Zoom unit that’s fully articulated and the Flyweave material combine to create a shoe like no other.
- The Zoom Bag unit sits very low to the ground, unlike its predecessors, giving you much more court feel.
- It comes in a wide array of colorways.
Of course, since it’s a Nike, the fit is a little tricky, with most buyers going up half a size. The heel area is also an issue as it looks exaggerated and bulky. Quite frankly, nobody needs a shoe heel that big.
Why Choose The Nike KD 8 Youth:
- It is one of the lightest shoes you can find in the market
- The outsole’s traction is easily one of the best in the Kevin Durant line.
- It also has a form-fitting upper that instantly solved the instability issue.
These issues are not deal-breakers, though, and overall, the Nike Kids KD 8 basketball shoe is a superior performance sneaker that will significantly help your game.
And speaking of the Swoosh, how about the Nike Kids' Lebron XVI? I think a sneaker list, regardless of age, is not complete without mentioning the ‘Brons.
What Makes It Unique:
- It comes with a sock-like sleeve that embraces your foot and adds protection.
- It has what they call rubber pods in the outsole that contributes to even better traction.
- The outsole is something to behold. It is thick, requires no wiping, no break-in time, and should work well even when played outdoors.
- It has what they call “variable-width lacing” and has extra lace holes for a more customized fit.
The drawbacks? It’s the most expensive among the bunch; that’s why you need to think if it’s worth wearing something that pricey for about a year tops. Its strengths (like the cushioning) could also be its weakness as some may prefer shoes with a thinner cushion for more court feel.
Why Choose The Nike Kids’ Lebron XVI:
- You’re going to love the Air Max Zoom, and the midsole is much more stable than its predecessor
- The material used is Battleknit, which is even better equipped to handle tensile stress than any material.
- I mean, how can you not like ‘Brons?
Our Runner-Ups for the Best Youth Basketball Shoes
There are good reasons why the shoes featured here are relegated to the runner-up list, but they aren’t bad choices by any stretch of the imagination. For example, take a look at this shoe:
What Makes It Unique:
- It does look bulky, but it’s incredibly lightweight
- The midsole is EVA, which is significantly lighter and than rubber without compromising quality
- It comes in at least nine colorways.
But here’s the deal: Like any shoe, especially budget models, it does have its limitations. Younger kids may have a hard time putting them on and off because the pair is a high-top. It will be better if you have another back-up shoe since it’s not advisable for daily and casual use. There are reports of the toe part completely breaking after months of daily usage.
Why Choose The And 1 Showout:
- Reports of breaking due to usage are minimal, and the majority who wore the shoes them because of its quality.
- The outsole has shown minimal wear and tear despite daily usage.
- Reasonably priced
After Nike and And 1, any objective shoe list won’t be complete without Adidas. The Three Stripes gets our nod here with:
What Makes It Unique:
- It comes in a variety of vibrant colorways such as the active red-black-white colorway and the blue-orange-white color combinations.
- Uses Cloudfoam cushioning and a zonal herringbone pattern for added grip and traction
- The leather material in the upper is soft but surprisingly durable.
- Because it’s a mid-top, it’s not going to make you feel limited on the ankles like the high-tops do nor make you feel bare like the low-tops.
The only flaw that we saw on the Pro Next is the material. We don’t expect it to be top of the line, but it may cause blisters if you’re not comfortable with it, especially in the heel and ankle areas. If you are especially sensitive to the material of the shoe you’re wearing, then crash the Pro Next in your wish list.
Why Choose The Adidas Pro Next 2019:
- It performs like a top-of-the-line shoe. It’s comparable to the Dame 5 and some 2019 Jordan models at a fraction of the price.
- Aside from the quality and top-of-the-line performance, it has this urban look that appears very stylish.
- adidas quality
- Imported by adidas
Our Value Picks For The Best Youth Basketball Shoes
Adidas does have a habit of making basketball shoes that are reasonably priced while not lacking in any particular area. Outside of the Pro Next, a model that costs much less:
What Makes It Unique:
- The shoe weighs less than seven ounces, which makes it very lightweight.
- Impressive flexibility for a pair of performance basketball sneakers
- It has an Eco Ortholite sockliner foams, which uses less petroleum than other compounds, therefore making it eco-friendly.
- Comes in 11 colorways
The caveats regarding the Pro Spark is that the midsole is not attached to the shoe. That leads to an uncomfortable feeling where it can get shifted out of place and becomes bunched up under your feet. It’s a little frustrating, to be honest, so you may need to be a bit more resourceful to solve that problem.
Why Choose The Adidas Pro Spark:
- The shoe’s traction to the Jordan CP3 XIs at a much lower price! That is just crazy!
- The Adidas Kids' Pro Spark uses synthetic material, making it very easy to clean.
Another value option you can choose is:
What Makes It Unique:
- The synthetic mesh and textile upper offers much-needed breathability.
- It has TPU toe caps that offers protection against 200 joules of impact.
- Comes in 11 colorways
However, you may have to take a particular note on where the pair is made. Some Indonesian-made pairs do not have the same grip as the Vietnam-made ones, probably because of the material used to make the sole. The latter’s traction is tested to be better than most shoes with a higher price tag.
Why Choose Under Armour’s Kids Jet 2019:
- The purchasers of the UA Kids Jet love that the shoe fits true to size.
- It is a no-nonsense basketball shoe that is breathable, high quality, and reasonably priced.
- Mesh & textile upper combination for breathability & support
- Molded heel construction with engineered perforations for added ventilation
- TPU film toe cap for added protection & durability
Why You Should Invest In Quality Youth Basketball Shoes
In playing sports, what you wear matters. That is especially true in basketball, where you need your feet in almost every play. A biomechanist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Joseph Hammill noted that basketball shoes are created to try to mitigate certain injury risks. Yes, they are designed for a reason. Needless to say, deciding which shoes to wear is one of the most critical decisions a basketball player like you can make.
Of course, like what we have mentioned, that decision hangs upon a variety of factors. If you don’t put your heart and mind into it and picks one because it looks “cool,” it may lead to injuries such as knee or foot pain.
I’m sure you will agree that no amount of money can buy health. Choosing an ill-fitting shoe can lead to acute or chronic conditions, and you may never be able to play the sport ever again. Yikes! The thought of that must give you the chills!
FAQ On Youth Basketball Shoes
How long should you replace youth basketball shoes?
It will depend on the level of competition you currently find yourself. Is basketball merely a game you enjoy playing a couple of times a week, or do you see yourself in the AAU circuit (and possibly beyond) one of these days?
For runners, the general rule of thumb is a maximum of 500 miles or so. To put that into perspective and apply it in basketball, a guard playing 32 minutes in a high school game may cover over five miles while a forward playing 27 minutes could go for four miles or so. If you’re player A, your basketball shoes’ lifespan should be around 100 games. If you’re player B, your pair of sneakers could net you 25 more games than Player A.
Most recreational players playing indoors can go for two to three pairs every two years, playing for four hours, two to three times a week. With that said, the easiest way to tell that you need a new pair is when you notice that the grip (or traction) of your shoes is not the same anymore.
What Shoes Should You Wear During Tryouts?
During basketball tryouts, it is more than just shooting drills and layup lines. You will be asked to do a lot of running, so make sure you have the shoes with the best traction. That way, you’re not going to be slipping all over the place.
Here’s a thing to remember: It does not matter if you’re wearing the latest $220 Jordans. If you don’t commit and show the right attitude, you won’t stand out in the eyes of the coaches. Remember, those shoes can only take you so far.
High vs Mid vs Low: What’s Best for Youth Basketball Players?
There is no right answer to this question, and it may all boil down to your personal preference.
As an unwritten rule, Highs are supposedly designed for big men who want more support around the ankle area. Lows, because of its lightweight design and more wiggling room around the ankles, are often preferred by quick guards roaming in the perimeter. And lastly, the mids are for the more versatile players who go for the best of both worlds.
If preventing injuries is foremost in your mind, there is no scientific evidence that says low tops contribute to ankle sprains and that high tops prevent it. Most ankle sprains happen when a player lands on somebody else’s foot. The resulting forces acting on the ankle can be so great that a high top sneaker could not do anything to nullify or stop a sprain from happening.
How To Choose The Best Basketball Shoes For You
There are literally hundreds of basketball shoes to choose from, but you can make it easy for yourself by breaking it down into three things. First, consider what you need. Second, consider the position you play. And three, consider your height and weight. Taking these three things into account will immensely help you in your decision.
The categories you need to consider are cushion, traction, support, materials, and fit. A one size fits all approach won’t work here since different positions require different levels of these attributes.
But here’s the thing. Since you’re probably playing high school level basketball or lower, there’s not much difference in body sizes unless you’re noticeably bigger than everyone else (think Zion Williamson). In that case, any shoe COULD theoretically work depending on which attribute you prioritize. (Speaking of Zion, didn’t he completely ruin a Kyrie 4, a guard shoe, while playing for Duke? That’s a great example right there why you need to wear shoes that match your size.)
If you’re primarily playing in the post and around the basket, bear in mind that the first order of business is comfort. You don’t want any small issues on your feet induced by ill-fitting shoes since it can lead to more serious orthopedic concerns down the road.
If the perimeter is where you feel at home, whether driving to the basket or curling down a screen for an open jumper, be sure to prioritize traction and support when choosing the best youth basketball shoes. Shoes with excellent traction are beneficial in coming off screens, and you need a pair with exceptional support to keep up with your activity.
And lastly, ball handlers should choose a shoe that corresponds to their body size and type. Smaller guards must have shoes with excellent support, while less athletic ball handlers need to have shoes with a first-rate traction system to compensate for the lack of speed and quickness.
The bottom line? The perfect youth basketball shoe does not exist because what works for you may not work for other people. Thus, you need to select a shoe that conforms to your body type and style of play.
Wrapping Things Up: The Best Youth Basketball Shoes
Putting everything together, in this guide we reviewed the following:
The perfect pair of basketball shoes do not exist and never will. Different types of basketball players require varying attributes of a shoe. The ones on the list are very diverse– from signature kicks like KDs and Brons– to the And 1 Showout, which are made for hoops beginners.
If you are willing to shed more dough, you can probably afford the Nike Kids KD 8 and the Nike Lebron XVI. Its material, looks, and quality are top-of-the line. Another superb choice is the . It is a practical sneaker with features that does not particularly excel in one area but combines to make up a solid shoe that just works. Now if you’re looking for something inexpensive but can compare with the high-end shoes in terms of performance, you have to go with the Adidas Kids' Pro Spark. Not only does it offer nearly a dozen colorways, it’s also easy-to-clean with outstanding traction to boot.
Whichever shoe you choose, make sure you play the game with the right goal and the right way. Sure, having awesome shoes contribute to the fun, but the things you will learn by playing a sport like basketball– such as teamwork, discipline, mental toughness, and confidence– will come in handy in your journey to life.
Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? Then check out our other basketball gear reviews.
You may also like our post on the best boys basketball shoes here.