How Should Basketball Shoes Fit?

Trying to find new basketball shoes is not as easy as some might think. While it is exciting to get a new pair, it can be a tough task finding ones that fit correctly. How can it be so so difficult to pick out a pair of new kicks? Just find some that look sharp. Right?

There is actually a lot more to it than that, especially if you are using them to play some serious hoops. You may be someone who only cares about how they look, but if those new shoes are getting serious playing time, there are some important things that you will want to consider.

Why Is Fit Important?

As a basketball player, your shoes are your only real piece of personal equipment, so it is important that they fit correctly. Finding a sneaker with the perfect fit will give you the confidence to play without any worries. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons you will want to make sure the ones you select fit properly.


Your basketball sneaks will be worn for at least a couple of hours during practice or a game, so you want to be sure they are comfortable. It is difficult, and not a lot of fun quite frankly, playing in shoes that hurt your feet. Concentrating on the game is difficult when all you are thinking about is your tired aching dogs.


Comfort may be king but support is a necessity. Without it, injury or long term damage to your feet and ankles could potentially keep you off of the court. A proper fitting shoe will provide you with the support you need and protect your feet, ankles and lower leg area.


Most of us want to be the best players that we can. We look for any edge we can find and use it to our advantage. Finding the right shoe for your body and your game is definitely a part of that equation. A good fitting shoe will allow you to run, cut, jump and stop to the best of your ability.

What to Look for?

There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for that perfect fit. First of all, don’t just go by the brand, look, popularity, or because your favorite player wears them. We are all different and may require specific features in a shoe. What works well for one player may not work well for another. Don’t get a shoe just because it’s the one your friends think would be the coolest.

Also, consider the type of player that you are. Are you a point guard that needs a light shoe that allows for easy movement and making quick cuts? Or are you a big power forward or center who needs a very sturdy pair with extra support? Pinning down your individual needs and finding something that can meet them will put you in a position for optimal comfort.

Lastly, when trying on shoes, make sure to put them fully on your feet. Wear socks that are similar to what you wear on the court. Lace the shoes up properly and stand up to ensure your foot is positioned properly. Try both left and right and if you have a chance, move around in them to see what they feel like.

Now let’s take a look at some of the things you might want to look for as you try them on.

Ankle Support

Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in sports so good ankle support is a must. You want the upper part of the shoe to fit firmly around your ankle, with the ability to tighten it with your laces. Make sure it is not so tight that it cuts off your circulation but snug enough to keep your foot in place. You also do not want any part of the sneaker cutting into your lower leg or Achilles as this can be quite uncomfortable.

Arch Support

This is important in most shoes but you don’t want the arch support to be too extreme or it can cause pain and discomfort. The arch of the shoe should match up with the arch of your foot when you stand flat-footed. You need to feel adequate support but avoid shoes that feel like they have a lump in the side of your foot. If it does they may be a bit narrow or have too high an arch.

Broad Toe Box

The toe box is the front half of the shoe where your toes rest. You don’t want your toes to feel crammed in or crunched together. You will be able to move them freely, but they will still have some support. When standing, you should have about a thumb’s width between your big toe and the tip of the shoe. If it has too much space it can get caught on the ground.

Heel Counter

The heel counter needs to provide support and keep your heel from sliding in any direction. It will also have some cushion for comfort but you don’t want it to be raised or elevated. You need to feel like it “gently cradles” your heel.


The vamp is the upper portion of the shoe that covers the top of your foot. The vamp will usually wrap snuggly around the top of your foot but it doesn’t rub or irritate. If it is too tight it can force the tongue to dig into your foot. It should also be able to flex with your foot while also supporting it.


With a proper fit, the bend will be in the same place that your foot bends near the ball of your foot. If it is too large, it will bend closer to your toes and if it is too small, it will bend closer to your arch. This will lead to blisters, foot pain and possibly other serious problems.


When tightened, they will feel like they are holding your feet in place. If the shoe is too big or wide, you may still feel your foot slide around even when the laces are tight.

All Feet Are Different

When looking for your new pair of kicks, remember that all feet are different. Most people have one foot slightly larger than the other. Because of this, you may need to compromise on size and fit. Most likely you will need the size that fits the larger foot. Hopefully, the size difference is negligible so you won’t really notice a difference.

Final Words

Finding new sneakers for your favorite pastime of playing basketball can be fun but could prove difficult due to the multitude of factors to consider. Since a good pair of basketball sneakers aren’t usually cheap you must make sure they fit as close to perfect as possible. A great fitting sneaker will have you hooping with the confidence necessary to up your game.

Many players often prefer specific brands because of the way they consistently fit. Do you have a specific brand that you find fits you the best? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

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