This article covers the best basketball braces on the market by explaining the traits that make each one so useful during a practice or game.
I’ve dealt with plenty of ankle injuries during my twenty-five years playing basketball. That means I’ve used a lot of braces. That personal experience, backed by strong research and additional first-hand accounts, allowed me to review the items listed below.
The McDavid 195 is my favorite ankle brace due to how it puts premium adjustability and durability on top of a list of useful traits.
It’s a soft-but-durable model that sits on your ankle in a comfortable way. It provides a lot of extra compression, and manages to do so without ever being too stuffy thanks to the ventilated tongue. The strap provides a lot of support and everything is adjustable, even during a game.
If you want to take a more in-depth look at the model, or learn more about other excellent basketball braces, read on to the rest of this guide.
- Best Overall: McDavid 195
- Best Fit: Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer
- Most Support: Zamst A2-DX
- Best Heavy-Duty: Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace
- Best Sleeve: PowerLIX Ankle Brace Sleeve
- Best Budget: Bodyprox Ankle Brace
Who Should Get This?
Anyone who’s suffered an ankle injury in the past, playing basketball or otherwise, will want a strong ankle brace. Your tendons and ligaments get weaker each time you injure them. Having a reliable brace provides you support and severely limits your chance of reinjury.
Even if you’ve never had a serious ankle injury in the past, you still want one if you play a lot. Though they might not be necessary if you shoot around every once in a while, the extra support and injury prevention they provide is helpful for more serious players.
Top Ankle Braces for Basketball: Our Picks
In this section, I review all of the top ankle braces and explain where each one excels.
1. McDavid 195
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Built for compression and comfort. Breathable ventilated tongue. Strong straps. Tight lace system.
- Material: Polyester
- Style: Strap
- Weight: 1.1 pounds
If support is your first and only concern, the McDavid 195 is a fantastic ankle brace that gives you ample protection in all of the right areas. It’s breathable thanks to the soft material and ventilated tongue, and also comes with plenty of reinforced padding for comfort.
One of the biggest draws of the model is that you can fully adjust it without taking it off or removing it. Being able to fix it on the fly is a boon when you’re in a tough practice or game. The durable material is also impact-resistant and will hold up to a lot of use.
The only true downside this brace has is that, due to its extra protection, it can be a bit bulkier than some may like. You can’t ignore it at first, and it may take some getting used to. However, if you can fit it inside your shoe it’s hard to find a more complete or reliable model.
- Best for: Comfort
- Key Features: Stable design. Secure main strap. Excellent lockdown and fit. Soft material. Slim, unobtrusive profile.
- Material: Nylon
- Style: Wrap
- Weight: 5.6 ounces
There are many ankle braces that, while functional, are a bit too bulky or uncomfortable for many people’s liking. The Med Spec ASO Stabilizer is a great compromise on that front, delivering excellent support in addition to a sleek, comfortable, and ergonomic design.
Not only is this brace one of the most seamless out there, but it comes in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Everyone will be able to use it, no matter how big or small their feet. The straps form a figure 8 around your foot, securely locking it into place to prevent any slipping.
Just be careful when strapping this on. Though the straps are powerful and good at what they do, they can be tight around your midfoot if everything is tied too tight. Always leave it a little loose, as that will create a much more comfortable experience during play.
3. Zamst A2-DX
- Best for: Support
- Key Features: Anatomically correct support. Anti-roll and anti-sprain technology. Fully adjustable. Three way support.
- Material: V-Tech
- Style: Strap
- Weight: 9.6 ounces
Used by Steph Curry himself, the Zamst A2-DX is a complete ankle brace focused on support. It cushions your foot nicely, utilizing both anti-roll and anti-sprain technology. It’s also easy to adjust, which helps create a more protective and customized fit for your individual foot.
At the center of this item is the full three-way support. The X Strap design has a special stabilizer with anterior, lateral, and medial reinforcement. That offers a ton of comfort, as well as added protection when you make sharp lateral movements. It also has great anti-migration.
As great and as comfortable as this brace is, it’s not the most intuitive. You’re gonna spend some time getting it on and figuring out how all of the different pieces come together. As soon as you get used to it, however, you’ll see excellent results during practices and games.
- Best for: Strength
- Key Features: Easy to put on. High-tech, quality materials. Durable. Low-profile design allows for greater mobility. Ultra Zoom technology.
- Material: Thermoplastic Resin
- Style: Strap
- Weight: 4.8 ounces
If your focus is on power and strength, the Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace is worth a long look. The extremely tough unit firmly locks your foot in and provides a massive amount of extra strength to your ankle thanks to the high-tech materials, durable construction, and hinged-cuff design.
Despite the rather tough build, the brace is surprisingly open. You’ll be able to run and cut without any issues. Better yet, it can be put on and taken off in seconds. You won’t spend a ton of time messing with it, which is particularly important if you need to make quick adjustments.
If this brace has a downside it’s that it doesn’t come with the best fit around the upper ankle. It won’t slip too much, but you’re going to see a little bit of sliding from time to time. That can then affect the comfort, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like noticing their gear.
- Best for: Sleeve
- Key Features: Comfortable. Easy to put on and take off. Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric. Flexible and mobile.
- Material: Compression Fabric
- Style: Sleeve
- Weight: 4.66 ounces
The PowerLix is a strong brace sleeve that’s perfect for players who want a simpler form of support. Rather than wrapping around your ankle, it offers plenty of compression. The 4-way stretch fabric not only adds an extra layer to your ankle, but it prevents other injuries as well.
On top of that, the sleeve has great ventilation. That’s comfortable and provides a layer of sweat-wicking to make sure you never get too damp. As it has a slim design, it’s easy to slip on and fits into any shoe.
The biggest issue this brace faces is its support. You won’t have any major issues in that area but, as it’s a sleeve, it doesn’t quite match up to more heavy-duty braces. That’s simply a tradeoff you have to make for the less intrusive design.
- Best for: Affordability
- Key Features: Open heel design. Breathable neoprene material. Affordable price point. Snug fit. Flexible.
- Material: Neoprene, nylon, polyester
- Style: Hook and Loop
- Weight: 2.08 ounces
If you want a reliable brace that won’t break the bank, this model from Bodyprox is the way to go. The strap system is secure, comfortable, and fits all foot sizes. In addition, the soft material is extremely flexible and has some of the best ventilation of any model on the market.
The most impressive part of this brace is the open-heel design. That’s particularly important for basketball because it enables you to move, cut, and dribble without any resistance.
You just have to make sure it doesn’t sit too tight. The straps are powerful, and if you make them too snug it can cause some lasting discomfort after you play.
Best Ankle Braces for Basketball: What to Look For
When looking for a good basketball ankle brace you want to keep the following characteristics in mind.
There are quite a few ankle bracelets on the market, and they are split up into several main varieties. Some are simple sleeves that just fit over your foot, some with straps and laces, and some utilize both to create a good compression and fit. Find the one that works for you.
You make that choice based on your needs. If you have strong, healthy ankles and simply want to prevent injury, you likely only need a sleeve. However, if you have a history and need as much protection as possible you’re going to want to get something with more straps or bands.
Size and Fit
When it comes to ankle braces, size also matters. There is a wide range of different options available. Some match up to different foot sizes, but there are also quite a few that differ based on how much support or compression they provide.
Certain models come up just past the ankle, but there are ones that go much higher and some even wrap all the way around your Achilles. The size and fit largely come down to how big or small of a brace you want, as well as what feels the most comfortable.
Check out this ankle brace guide for more info on how to choose the one that meets your needs.
Ankle braces must also provide proper support. While part of that is fit, durability plays a large role as well. You don’t want to get one that will break down or buckle during hard contact. Look for ones with strong constructions that hold up to long play times as well as external elements.
Useful Tips and Resources
Though this article narrows it down, choosing one brace from the wide market can be overwhelming. However, don’t let that dissuade you. Remember, having some support is always better than having none at all.
Not only that, but braces can be used in your normal life off the court. They do a great job for arthritis, cramps, foot pain, and other common issues. If you want to know how to properly tape an ankle, this video guides you through the process.
After looking at the top basketball ankle braces you may still have some questions. This section answers quite a few of the most common ones.
What Ankle Braces Do NBA Players Wear?
NBA players wear a wide range of different ankle braces, including many of the options listed above. Some have custom models made especially for them, and some use generic models like the McDavid 195.
Should I Wear an Ankle Brace While Playing Basketball?
This is completely dependent on you. If you have a history of injury or if you simply have weak ankles, then you likely need one. However, if you don’t and want less gear, you can risk it.
What Ankle Brace Does Steph Curry Use?
Steph Curry utilizes the Zamst A2-DX, a form=fitting ankle bracelet with extra strength to make sure he doesn’t have any lasting issues.
How Do You Put on an Ankle Brace for Basketball?
It depends on the style. Strap-based braces need to be wrapped around your ankle, while sleeves should simply be slipped on over your foot.
Is it Ok to Wear an Ankle Brace All Day?
No. While they’re great during a game for extra protection, wearing a brace all day can actually weaken your ankle and cause long-lasting instability.
Do NBA Players Still Tape Their Ankles?
While it’s not common across all players, there are some NBA professionals who prefer to tape their ankles over wearing heavier braces.
For my money, the McDavid 195 is the best basketball ankle brace out right now. The compression is fantastic, while the strong straps create solid lockdown and reliability that few other models can match.
On top of that, it breathes well and the ventilated tongue ensures you never get hot no matter how tight you keep it on. If you’re looking for durability, strength, and comfort, it’s the perfect brace.