In today’s age of ever-advancing shoe technology, there is a focus on reducing the weight of basketball shoes in order to give athletes as much of an advantage on the court as possible.
However, this design can come with a price, as many of the shoes designed for indoor courts cannot stand up to the stress that is placed on them when playing outdoors.
As a result, those who are looking to take their game both inside and outside, need to look for certain attributes of a shoe that differ from indoor shoes to ensure that the shoe is suitable for outdoor use.
Here are 10 things to look for in an outdoor basketball shoe:
- 1 1. Is the sole made of the right material?
- 2 2. Stitching is key
- 3 3. Tread depth
- 4 4. Varying traction on court makes ankle support essential
- 5 5. Don’t look for the lightest shoe
- 6 6. Can you use the shoe off the court?
- 7 7. Do the shoes shed water?
- 8 8. Can the feet breath?
- 9 9. Outdoor shoes need more cushion
- 10 10. Prepare for shorter life from your outdoor shoes
- 11 What are your favorite outdoor basketball shoes? What do you look for?
1. Is the sole made of the right material?
Although a large number of shoes are designed solely for indoor use, there are shoes out there that are designed specially for outdoor courts. The most important difference in these shoes is the makeup of the sole.
When looking for an outdoor shoe, make sure to ask about the durability of the rubber that makes up the sole. Some sole technology uses the same type of rubber that tires are made of, which can serve as the best sole composition for outdoor shoes.
2. Stitching is key
Outdoor basketball shoes take a much greater beating than indoor shoes. This is due in large part to the harder surface that athletes play on and the varying traction on these courts. From asphalt to concrete, these hard surfaces can cause many shoes to tear at the seams.
To find the most durable stitching, you must identify what part of the shoes you wear on the most. Given the different styles of play, different athletes can wear out different parts of the shoe faster then others. Finding this weak spot and what type of stitching is used to keep the shoe together in these areas will go a long way in ensuring your shoe is reasonably durable.
3. Tread depth
Indoor basketball shoes do not need as deep of a tread as outdoor shoes because of the stable surface they make contact with.
However, with the risk of debris littering many outdoor courts, a deeper tread can ensure that a misplaced step onto the debris does not result in injury.
Although you will need to examine your tread after each outdoor game in order to remove debris, a deeper tread will keep you in the game longer.
4. Varying traction on court makes ankle support essential
There is no part of the body that takes more of a beating on outdoor courts than a hooper’s ankles.
With the grip of the surface varying with every step, it is easy to grab too much or too little traction, resulting in the body moving a direction that the feet are not.
In these cases, having a high top basketball shoe that provides stable support in in the ankles can reduce the chance of a major ankle injury.
5. Don’t look for the lightest shoe
Although indoor shoes can get away with focusing their design on eliminating as much excess weight as possible, outdoor shoes require more weight and material to offset the wearing effects of the court.
The extra support in more durable, heavier shoes is essential in getting the most out of your outdoor game.
6. Can you use the shoe off the court?
Although many players wouldn’t dare taking their shoes off the basketball court, there is value in having a pair of shoes that you can walk home on after a day on the court.
Take the shoes for a trip around the store to get a good idea about how they feel. For an even more accurate reflection, take the shoes for a walk right after you have played or worked out on the court. Given that your muscles will have the stiffness that comes with a vigorous workout, seeing if you can walk home pain-free will help you determine if your outdoor basketball shoe is worthy of wearing off the court.
7. Do the shoes shed water?
Basketball shoes are not known for their ability to shed water.
However, when playing outside, a player will experience differing weather conditions that may require his/her shoes to shed a little water during the run.
A common rule to follow is the lighter the shoes, the less protection they have from keeping water from soaking the socks, a discomfort that players do not want to put up with while playing.
Don’t shy away from researching or asking about the shoes ability to shed water, it could save you from a lot of issues later on when that unexpected rain shower comes down in the middle of your game.
Not a basketball shoe…but well-ventilated
There is a difficult middle ground to be found on shoes’ durability and their ability to allow your feet to breath.
Outdoor hoops can be played in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, causing the feet to sweat more than when playing inside.
Although your typical outdoor hooper does not want the lightest, least-durable shoe composition, he also does not want his shoes to be so thick that the fabric that the shoe is made from prevents air from circulating through and giving the feet a breath of fresh air.
9. Outdoor shoes need more cushion
There is nothing worse than coming home after a day on the court and having your legs ache because of the beating they took from jumping and landing on a hard outdoor surface.
Although athletes may be able to get away with purchasing a shoe with less cushion for indoor use, increased cushion is essential if you wish to take the shoes outside.
The target shoe cushion is one that absorbs the majority of shock when jumping and landing, a test that can be done in the shoe store, which is outlined in our Basketball Shoe Testing Guide.
10. Prepare for shorter life from your outdoor shoes
Although many players can get two years out of a pair of indoor shoes, outdoor basketbal shoes do not have as long a life as indoor basketball shoes.
Make sure to take this into consideration when making your next basketball shoe purchase, as you do not want to spend top dollar on a nice pair of shoes that will be worn out within a year.
However, by looking for the attributes listed above (which may in fact cause many outdoor shoes prices to be cheaper), you can find the right outdoor shoe to fit your budget, all while ensuring that your feet and legs are properly protected when playing on outdoor surfaces.
What are your favorite outdoor basketball shoes? What do you look for?
I’ve shared my outdoor basketball shoe guidelines, so please share yours! What do you look for in your outdoor basketball shoes?
Got a favorite pair of outdoor basketball shoes? Please share in the comments below.