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basketball shoe

What to Look For in a
Women's Basketball Shoe

Thirty years ago my first basketball shoe had such a hard and stiff sole that before I could break it in, my toe had come through the canvas upper. Granted, I would probably not have had this experience with today's leather uppers. However, the better news is that the soles have softened-up for us women.

Today's basketball shoes come in many fancy colors and especially funky looking heels -- really, really high heels (okay, high heel and basketball are two things that were never meant to be put together, so let's refer to the heel as the midsole). The latest research for men (!) players is that they need a ton of cushioning for when they land from an above-the-rim type jump, such as a rebound or dunk. Now, I have been following the NCAA March Madness (men's and women's) and the average male player probably has a vertical jump of 42" -- that guy needs a ton of cushioning for his landing. Chances are that you, or most women, don't jump as high. So if you are wearing a shoe with a really high, cushioned heel, you may not need all that cushioning that cost ya an arm and a leg, and your ankle is now sitting higher off the ground.  This means that your ankle has a higher distance from which to roll if you, say, step on someone's foot (my teammate did that last year and it took her about 6 months to heal). I say, stay closer to mother earth and look for shoes that have a midsole that you sit in, rather than on.

Now that you have avoided the high midsole, let's look at the stitching (no, really!) You want a lot of stitching around the forefoot to support all that lateral movement you will be doing playin' defense. The more stitching the better. However, we looked at some top models and they now are hiding the stitching inside. If you don't see a lot of stitching, look for something providing lateral support, such as an all in one piece of molded plastic.

blue bar
blue bar

ankles, and their ankles were so safe and stiff, their knees took more of the shock and twisting and they blew out their knees.

Okay, now that you have thought a little bit about how high you want your heel or mid-sole, whether to choose a high, low or mid-top, and have checked for good lateral support, it's time to think about brands. Whew, there are a lot of them out there. Over the years, I have tended to wear the major brands, so let's focus on those. I like Adidas, they feel more flexible to me, and they had the best women's shoe first, all those years ago, and you know I gotta support that. Nike has spent more on their research, but you are also paying for their promotional advertising that has made Michael Jordan (remember him) a multi-gazillionare. So, although their product is high quality, the expense is greater than the benefit. Look for sales!

I tried Reebok shoes a couple of years ago because they give money to women's sports (just ask Jennifer Azzi), but they didn't feel like they had much cushioning or support. Similarly, Converse, the original men's basketball shoe, is still the same as they were all those years ago, too stiff, at least in my experience. These brands may have gotten better over the years, so please try them out for yourself.

Now that you have a better idea about what to look for in a basketball shoe, let me emphasize how important a piece of equipment shoes are.  A few months ago, another teammate (our center) was wearing running shoes while playing basketball, she came down from a rebound and landed wrong.  She fractured a bone in her foot, missed the entire season, and I had to get all the rebounds (and I'm a guard!)

So be smart and play hard!

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