Basketball shoes are designed to enhance your performance on the court. They provide extra support, traction and comfort for your foot so you can focus on your game.
The best basketball shoes for you depend on your skill level and style of play. Some shoes are designed for streetball or casual play while others are made for competitive play or use in gyms.
Before choosing a pair of basketball shoes, make sure they’re designed for the type of court you’ll be playing on. For outdoor courts, look for outdoor basketball shoes that have rubber soles with treads to provide traction and grip on wet surfaces. Indoor courts usually have hardwood floors, so indoor basketball shoes work well on these courts because they offer more padding than outdoor sneakers but less than indoor-only sneakers.
If you’re looking for a shoe that can do it all, consider buying a pair of multi-purpose sneakers that are suitable for both indoor and outdoor courts. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure what type of shoe will suit your needs, then go with one that has good all-around functionality
Best Shoes For Playing Basketball
We all started playing basketball outside. Whether it was with family or school friends, chances are everyone’s first shot was on an outdoor court. This setting is rooted in the game’s tradition, evidenced by the millions of outdoor courts worldwide.
Since only a few talented players ever get to play on hardwood full time, we should all have a pair of the best outdoor basketball shoes, just like the Nike KD Trey 5 VIII.
These shoes are in a special category since not many sports are played on such rugged terrain. Football and baseball are on grass, and hockey is on ice, so those athletes only ever need one style of footwear.
To play your best, you need the proper equipment; you need the best outdoor basketball shoes.
I want to know what makes these shoes function and what the makers thought when creating them. I want to know who they’ll benefit most and how they perform on different surfaces. To do this, our expert team and I evaluated over 45 pairs, taking note of the following on each:
Over our intensive 68+ hours of research, I narrowed it down to the top 5 best basketball shoes for outdoor play. I also did 5 in-house tests of the kicks, testing their feel on an outdoor basketball court.
Now comes the fun part, you get to choose the best pair to help your team and embarrass your opponents. Let’s see some good shoes for outdoor basketball.
Best Outdoor Basketball Shoes Reviews
#1 Nike KD Trey 5 VIII—Best Overall
- Size: Unisex 8.5-14
- Ankle: Mid-top
- Firm rubber outsole keeps your feet glued to the outdoor court
The KD Trey 5 VIII shoes are leading the way when it comes to outdoor performance and sharp styling. Just like the man himself—Kevin Durant—these basketball shoes combine classic cutting-edge technology and style. It’s an awesome signature shoe.
- Multi-directional traction rubber sole helps you stop and go fast
- Mid-top design means your ankle is mobile
- Foam pods provide excellent ankle support from the bottom up
- Padded tongue increases ventilation
- Two-layer textile mesh keeps your foot cool and stable
- No break-in time
- Available in many different color schemes
- Design might be too plain for some
I tested these kicks myself on 7 outdoor games already and they blew my mind.
Usually, the only complaint about mid-tops is their lack of ankle support, but this outdoor basketball shoe is different. Perforated foam pods are embedded around the ankle, supporting you from the bottom up. Having this solid foundation is what separates this mid-top from others.
With this design, your upper ankle is mobile and can move freely. The pods keep your lower ankle aligned with the rest of your foot to reduce ankle twisting and help players become faster in the transition game.
Now that you’re safe and secure, let’s talk about the traction you get outside. A firm rubber outsole is a hallmark of good outdoor basketball shoes, and thankfully these have just that. The firmness is needed to prolong the life of the treads.
Outdoor courts are notorious for wearing down soles, but our greatest weapon against that is a stiff rubber outsole like these have.
For traction during gameplay, they’ve installed a multi-directional traction pattern. This is great because outdoor courts are unpredictable, so you don’t want your foot to get stuck in a certain position.
There is no pivot point, so your foot is free to move in any direction.
Playing outside also means dealing with the elements. The upper mesh of this basketball shoe means you can play in hot weather and still be comfortable. Two-layer textile around the forefoot provides maximum breathability while maintaining complete lateral control.
Even though this pair of shoes look great, they’re designed with performance in mind from the ground up. The clear-yarn design adds style, but it’s durable and won’t stretch too much over time.
This is great since outdoor use can cause more wear and tear than playing on cushy indoor courts.
Lastly, the tongue is specially padded with breathable material to add to the ventilation of this shoe. When I wore them, my feet felt ventilated all the time.
Hot weather is no problem, but you might be a bit cold if you plan to use these in colder climates.
Despite the temperature, you’ll have maximum grip and total mobility with these just like KD; well, maybe not JUST like him, but similar. Last but not least, these outdoor basketball shoes are one of my top choices for players with bad knees and are also recommended for high arches.
#2 UA Embiid 1
- Size: Men’s 8-12
- Ankle: Mid-top
- Deep treads and added cushioning protect against ragged courts
This basketball shoe design reflects Joel Embiid’s style of play, his roots, and how he made his dreams come true. As a first edition signature shoe, it’s great. But for playing basketball outdoors, it stands out from the others, just like Joel does.
- Deep treads keep dirt and debris away from points of contact
- Unique traction pattern gives durability where you need it most
- Two pod design is excellent for stability
- HOVR technology provides comfort and responsive cushioning
- Upper mesh is built for performance and support
- Consistent traction on outdoor and indoor courts
- Achilles’ support may be too intrusive for some
Testing this pair of basketball shoes was fun. I was impressed by their overall performance on a concrete surface.
Joel Embiid has been a force in the association ever since he started.
He didn’t have much formal training growing up, so you know he has seen his fair share of outdoor surfaces. For many players, this is their first experience with basketball, but not all of them go on to have successful NBA careers like Embiid.
The thick rubber outsole comes with a two airpod design, one under the heel and one under the forefoot. They look softer than they feel and will keep you moving fast up and down the court. These are a big help if you find yourself playing on rough and uneven playing surfaces.
The traction is excellent with this shoe, both indoors and outdoors. The deep treads help channel dirt and debris away from the contact points.
You can see the pivot-point-inspired designs on the bottom, but these won’t hinder your directional movement with the wacky tread pattern.
In fact, the forefoot pattern is a bonus because it leaks up to the midsole a bit. This is a high-wear area, protecting your foot and your shoe from dragging.
For even more support, extra lateral support runs the full length of the shoe. This added strength is deliberate, seeing as Embiid is one of the most prominent players yet able to move quickly.
Under the heel is UA’s HOVR cushion technology. It protects against heel strikes and is excellent for response time. This is perfect for playing on pebbly courts, but it’s a bit stiff and requires a short break-in time. They didn’t cause any blisters at all, too, which was awesome.
The fit is excellent for encompassing your entire foot. The mesh works perfectly with the lateral counter to keep your foot and ankle aligned. The Achilles support comes up higher than most other shoes, which some may find restrictive.
These provide superior grip on indoor courts as well, which was a pleasant surprise for me.
And here’s a neat table comparing the most prominent features of the “Embiid 1” and the “KD Trey 5”. I consider both pairs to be more than good shoes for outdoor basketball.
|KD Trey 5 VIII||UA Embiid 1|
|Traction Pattern||Wavy Herringbone||Radar|
|Heel to toe transition||Fair||Good|
#3 Nike Fly By Mid 3
- Size: 3.5-18
- Ankle: Low-top
- More durable and long-lasting outsole than some of Nike’s premier basketball shoes
You never know when a game will start, so always be prepared by having a pair of the best outdoor basketball shoes. Don’t get caught using your indoor shoes on a beat-up court. Not only will you ruin them, but your game will also suffer. These are the perfect option as your second pair of basketball shoes that are strictly for outdoor use.
- Hard rubber outsole provides excellent durability
- Wavy herringbone traction pattern is perfect for outdoor surfaces
- Large trenches on the outsole help keep high-wear areas clean
- Short break-in time increases grip
- Heel to toe transition is smooth with extra curve at the heel-end of the outsole
- “Nike Foam” mystery cushioning provides great impact protection
- Nike’s most inexpensive shoe
- Material is cheap looking, and they look like Dad shoes
While the style says “Dad shoes,” the performance and construction are made for serious basketball players. Starting with the traction to keep you safe and speedy, this split outsole design keeps dirt and dust away from high-traffic areas.
The trenches carved out of the hard rubber outsole work to collect anything on the court that may trip you up. These canals are strategically placed adjacent to high-wear areas of your foot; the ball and the heel.
Alongside these moats is a wavy herringbone design that isn’t as detailed as indoor herringbone traction designs. This is great because outdoor courts are much more unpredictable, so having more mobility will protect your ankle from turning over.
This is a better design than advertised since it’s practically a low-top cut offering very little ankle support, so you’re free to move in any direction.
If you’re concerned about your ankles, this basketball shoe makes it easy to wear an ankle brace.
I found the best performance came after I wore them for a few games. It seems the break-in period created more bite on the court as the outsole became more coarse.
The heel-to-toe transition is incredible because of the steep curves in both the heel and toe areas. At the heel, you can see how far the outsole comes up to protect the midsole and ensure you minimize your heel strikes.
Should you come down too hard on your heel, these basketball shoes have “Nike Foam.” There is no information on the Nike website about this “foam,” but I don’t need it after using the shoe for a while.
The foam is thin, so you have excellent court feel and sit low in the shoe. But somehow, it’s also very responsive and protects against harsh heel strikes. Rebounders will rejoice in this shoe as well as basketball referees, are these are black.
This season, “Nike” continue to be the leading brand for basketball shoes chosen by NBA players.
#4 Nike Giannis Immortality
- Size: 4-18
- Ankle: Low-top
- Incredible traction and durability by using proven patterns and methods
This bestsellling signature basketball shoe is also very affordable, but I could barely tell while playing in it. There are a few telltale signs once I got used to them, but overall this shoe should cost a lot more.
- Full herringbone traction pattern
- Made from durable compound rubber
- Trench down the middle keeps dust away
- Tighter treads in high-wear areas
- Incredible heel-to-toe transition with exaggerated curvature
- Upper mesh is cheap and provides little to no protection
Outdoors is where these kicks shine. They’re prepared to handle all types of surfaces, from smooth acrylic (tennis court style) to pebbly asphalt.
The outsole is the MVP here, and we’re not sure why Nike doesn’t use this setup in their other best basketball shoes.
Using a text-book herringbone pattern across the bottom, the shoe has incredible court interaction in all the essential spots. The treads get tighter in the high-wear areas where more pressure will be applied.
This design and extra attention increases their durability as well.
To keep the treads clean and sharp, a trench runs north/south down the middle of your forefoot. This wicks any dust and debris away from your most-used areas to maintain traction on various court conditions.
The entire outsole is made from firm compound rubber. Again, I wish this material was used more in other basketball shoe lines.
It provides excellent traction, stop and start power, and it’s easy to clean. A simple wipe now and then is all it needs to keep it extra squeaky. That’s why these are very convenient shoes for power forwards.
The heel curve has been exaggerated and is quite wide to improve your speed on suspect court conditions. This helps keep your foot moving forward and aligned with your ankle, so you’re always in an athletic position.
Made with Nike Phylon, the foam is very responsive. I wouldn’t call it firm, but it’s far from soft. The heel has adequate impact protection, but this basketball shoe is ultimately made for speed.
Remember how I said this shoe is affordable? Here’s why; The upper mesh is minimal and cheap to the touch. It doesn’t provide top-tier containment and has the potential to stretch for wide-footed players.
However, the breathability is off the charts because it’s so thin. Players looking for a minimal feel and play in hot weather will see this as a huge positive.
Overall, these are some really good shoes for outdoor basketball.
#5 Adidas Own The Game 2.0 – Best Adidas Outdoor Basketball Shoes
- Size: 6.5-15
- Ankle: Low-top
- An inexpensive shoe that surprises with a grippy outsole firm flex midsole
I noticed a trend when doing the research for this article, and that is most of the best basketball shoes for outdoor courts have a low price tag. It’s hard to believe the price of these shoes because the performance, appearance, and construction all say otherwise. Don’t miss checking these out!
- Deep and sharp treads are great for outdoors and will last a long time
- Excellent traction will grip many different court conditions
- Rudimentary cushion system makes heel to toe transitions comfortable
- Spacious toe box is ideal for wide-footed players
- Upper mesh is thin and very breathable
- Very little cushioning in the forefoot
- Upper mesh is not a premium material
For the best results outside, your top priority should be traction. The sharp, clean lines on the tread of these shoes grab the court better than I thought.
Made from compound rubber, you can change direction lightning fast with this traction.
Having this kind of traction bolsters your confidence, so you can start to pull off moves you never thought possible. I was getting bold as these basketball shoes broke in and became more comfortable.
However, not all parts of the shoe can be premium if we want them to stay at this price. The cushion system is the first clue that this basketball shoe is budget-friendly. It’s called Lightmotion, which is inspired by Lightstrike in looks but not performance.
It does provide adequate response and comfort in the heel, which is very helpful on uneven surfaces. The forefoot cushioning is noticeably thin. While this does help speedy players improve their court feel, it provides very little impact protection.
A positive of this cushioning system is how flexible it is. Much like a runner, the whole lower part of the shoe is super flexible right out of the box. This helps you adapt to uneven surfaces better.
The upper is made from mesh, but this is different mesh. It’s light, airy, and conforms to your foot very well. But it also has an inexpensive feel and was quite roomy in the toe box.
This would be great for players with a wider foot or who prefer more space. The larger toe box and the minimal padding in the heel and ankle mean wide-foot players can be comfortable for a long time on any outdoor court. Plus, you can wear these off the court.
Top Features To Look For In Outdoor Basketball Shoes
Outdoor basketball courts require different equipment to play effectively. From different clothes to more durable basketballs, we can’t forget about the basketball shoes.
Keep an eye out for these qualities if you want the best basketball shoes for outside courts.
At the top of the list, traction should be your number one concern. ‘Outdoor court’ could mean a lot of things, and you want to be prepared for whatever condition it may be in.
Having lots of treads is a good thing; they help add points of contact to the ground while digging into all the different nooks and crannies you find on an outdoor court.
The pattern of the traction is also crucial since you want to be able to move freely in any direction.
Companies seem to stick with the herringbone design pattern, and my research shows this is a great idea. It’s an optimal combination of grippy traction with multi-directional capabilities.
It’s trendy amongst the best outdoor basketball shoes, although each manufacturer puts its own spin on it.
This may seem counterproductive since outdoor basketball courts can present tough and uneven playing conditions, but a firm footbed is what you need.
Being able to feel the court is so important that your feet can react instinctively. You can’t do that if a soft, pillowy foam midsole surrounds your feet. Unpredictable courts can cause ankle sprains if you don’t have the feel of what’s going on under your feet.
Firm cushioning also provides a quick response time so you can spring into action from any position. The most beneficial aspect of this would be going from a standstill position.
Being able to pick up speed quickly means you’re the first to the basketball and can make a play before anyone else.
To counter a firm cushioning, you need a flexible midsole. If your shoe is too stiff, it will slow you down, and your feet won’t be able to do what is most comfortable. This also helps with cuts so you can make adjustments on rugged court surfaces.
Be mindful of how flexible your feet are. A flexible midsole means less support during lateral movements. If you require ankle support, choose a basketball shoe with a firmer midsole.
Try to maintain a firm footbed as well but not at the cost of comfort. You want to be able to wear these for hours at a time.
A thick upper is a hallmark of the best outdoor basketball shoes. Players face many different challenges outdoors as opposed to the safety of indoor basketball courts.
Between players stepping on your feet and debris being knocked around, your feet could face some pretty harsh conditions outside.
There’s also the weather to consider.
Colder climates will love a thick upper material to maintain heat and keep the muscles in their feet from stiffening up.
If you play in hot climates, I understand why you would want a thin upper material, but the other dangers may outweigh the importance of a comfortable foot temperature.
Not all basketball shoes feature durability. Only the great outdoor basketball shoes feature an incredibly durable rubber outsole to stand up against rough terrain.
Look for basketball shoes that are made with a compound rubber sole. This is the most durable rubber sole you can get. There are varying degrees of compound rubber, but the basketball shoes on this list all feature a long-lasting rubber sole.
This is the category where you get your money’s worth. Many outdoor basketball shoes promote a rubber sole, but can they stand the test of time? Will it still perform the same way in your 100th game as it did in your first?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to those, you found yourself one of the best outdoor basketball shoes.
This is very important for those who have experienced ankle problems in the past. You want to play hard, but the fear of turning an ankle holds you back and reflects on your performance.
Dense Upper Material
Choosing the right upper is more subjective since this is the part that will make the most contact with your feet.
Mesh upper is the most popular as it’s lightweight and breathable, which sounds great. But players who find themselves on the outside more should opt for something a little thicker.
While you don’t have to go all out and get leather high-tops, there is a range of mesh upper materials that you can choose from.
Typically, cheaper shoes are designed to save money on the cushioning and the upper, so you can start looking at the inexpensive shoes first if you prefer a minimal feel on foot.
If they’re a little too cheap or you’re worried about durability, choose an upper with woven knit. This material is sturdier than mesh and will resist stretching a lot more.
Different Kinds Of Outdoor Courts
This is the least damaging to outdoor basketball shoes and my personal favorite to play on. It’s very similar to what you would find on tennis courts and is usually found in warmer climates where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing.
You will have very little to worry about on this surface other than dust. It provides a very level playing area, so having outdoor basketball shoes that are low to the ground will excel here.
Also found in warmer climates, a concrete court provides a level playing surface at a much cheaper cost than acrylic. Many public and park-setting courts use this as it’s great for the ball’s response and easy to install.
However, concrete can chip and create pebbles and stones. If these get caught in your treads, you are at risk of sliding out. The best outdoor basketball shoes will have tight treads to prevent this from happening.
Probably the most common surface to play outdoor basketball on is black asphalt. Many parks in colder climates use this because it’s resistant to cracking in sub-zero temperatures. It’s also very affordable, which is why you see many residential driveways with it.
Unfortunately, this is the least durable of all outdoor courts. Despite surviving the winters, it can splinter quickly and create rocks and pebbles.