7 Best Basketball Shoes For Ankle Support in 2024

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic on
7 Best Basketball Shoes For Ankle Support in 2024
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No amount of ankle support in a basketball shoe can prevent ankle sprains!

If you experience pain, discomfort, or instability in your ankles, DO SEEK professional advice from a physician before purchasing your next pair of basketball shoes.

For decades, high-top shoes have been synonymous with reliable ankle support and injury prevention. However, we scoured through 30 scientific studies on the subject to discover that this couldn’t be further from the truth! A higher collar does not guarantee protection from ankle sprains.

Fortunately, there are ways to lower the risk of injury such as wearing ankle braces (or sleeves), applying tapes, and choosing basketball shoes with more stable platforms, lateral outriggers, and highly secure foot containment.

Having meticulously tested dozens of hoop shoes on both the court and in our lab, we picked the ones that meet all of the criteria above.

How we test basketball shoes

To ensure the validity of our claims and eventual assessments, no review was written without us playing in the shoes first. Our experience on the court served as the major determinant of the basketball shoe's fate in our rankings. In addition to this, we include the following:

  • We say no to freebies.

Don't get us wrong, free shoes are nice and we will always be grateful for them. However, the sponsorship arrangement may cloud our judgment. As reviewers, we feel it's best if we keep sponsors at bay.

  • The results and data we collect in our lab testing.

Before we finalize our reviews and our picks, we make it a point to cut the shoes into pieces and test them closely. We find that the values for different parameters that we gather in our lab help us conclude what're shoes best for various categories. 

Best overall basketball shoes with ankle support

Jordan Zion 2

What makes it the best?

We did not have qualms about declaring the Jordan Zion 2 the most valuable basketball shoe for ankle support in our database. It was as immensely supportive as it looked. The collar and the heel counter were able to hold our feet securely. Though its relatively high collar covered more skin, the breathable upper still did not allow our feet to overheat. This shoe’s torsionally rigid base and well-strapped forefoot further solidified the foot containment that it offered. 

During our games, we felt the back of our feet securely fenced by the sturdy heel counter. To better gauge its stiffness, we squeezed and twisted the rear part of the shoe in the lab. Hands down, giving this shoe a score lower than the perfect 5 for stiffness would have been a total injustice. Additionally, the generously padded collar comfortably held our feet in place.

We conducted a smoke test on the Jordan Zion 2. We pumped smoke into it and then observed through which parts of the upper the smoke would escape. Not only did the smoke escape through key areas such as the toebox, tongue, and side walls, it rose at a faster rate as well. On the court, these findings translated to impressive breathability and overall comfort.

After aggressively twisting the Zion 2 in the lab, we were floored by how resistant it was. We gave it a 5 out of 5 for torsional rigidity, and this pretty well translated to amazing stability and more stable runs toward the basket. This already amazing experience was further complemented by the forefoot straps, which kicked any question about the shoe’s support flying out the window.

The weight of the shoe, we must say, was a true letdown. At 15.2 ounces or 431 grams, it’s significantly heavier than the average basketball shoe, which only weighs 13.7 ounces or 387 grams. Players who want lighter kicks should look somewhere else.


  • Strong side-to-side grip
  • Tremendous support
  • Very pronounced court feel
  • Reliable energy return
  • True-to-size fit
  • Breathable
  • Good for bigger men
  • OK for outdoors
  • Casual style


  • Dust-prone outsole
  • Lacks impact protection
  • Seriously needs breaking in
Full review of Jordan Zion 2

Supportive basketball shoe with the best versatility

What makes it the best?

Aside from providing outstanding ankle support, the Adidas Harden Vol. 7 also dazzles in terms of functional versatility. Particularly, its midsole tooling is able to deliver a lot of impact protection without ever sacrificing court feel. Hence, it truly deserves praise for offering the best versatility among all basketball shoes for ankle support.

The shoe’s amazing clasp around the rearfoot is a function of its stiff heel counter and side walls. Squeezing the heel counter in the lab yielded a solid 4 out of 5 for stiffness. The sidewalls also kept us laterally stable even if our movements started to become a bit more intense.

The midsole tooling is interesting. Compared to the average, it’s considerably thinner. The heel stack is only 27.5 mm high (average is 30.0 mm) while its forefoot stack is 18.2 mm high (average is 21.6). The thinner cushions allowed us to feel the courts more, effectively increasing our control over our fine movements.

While thinner than usual, the midsole is superb when it comes to softness. It only registered 11.0 on our HA durometer. The average midsole has a firmness score as high as 26.6! The soft midsole gave a lot of compression, and surely helped in keeping us pain-free during our games.

It’s just too bad that the ventilation was not that good. During our breathability test, the Adidas Harden Vol. 7 only got 2 out of 5. We surely cannot recommend this to players with sweaty feet.


  • Super amazing traction on dustless courts
  • Heel-to-toe transition is smooth
  • Well-pronounced court feel
  • Fairly dependable impact protection
  • Comfortable and supportive heel area
  • Very good overall containment
  • Laces offers exceptional lockdown
  • True-to-size fit
  • Easy to put on and take off


  • Ventilation has to be improved
  • Shoe is on the heavier side
Full review of Adidas Harden Vol. 7

Supportive basketball shoes with the best traction

What makes it the best?

After many hours on the court and in the lab, we found the Jordan XXXVIII is the model with the best traction among the supportive basketball shoes. Its outstanding grip capacity came along with an incredibly durable and supportive structure, making us feel very surefooted in our playtests.

Aggressively changing directions and/or going for in-n-out moves (such as backdoor cuts) felt effortless with this shoe. It bit the court with all its might, so we didn’t even slip once. Outdoors, we felt confident even if it was not the cleanest surface; indoors, we couldn’t believe our feet when we didn’t accidentally slide even on dusty hardwood. This Jordan’s grip was absolutely phenomenal.

We were full of confidence in our wear tests thanks to its supportive structure. Its high-quality materials delivered high-quality foot containment, as this model scored a 5/5 in both our heel counter stiffness and torsional rigidity tests. Its mid-top structure offered us a snug locked-in feel in our heel, and it proved its wonderful durability on our Dremel tests. Its heel counter and upper scored a 4/5 and a 5/5 respectively.

The only problem we've noticed is that with constant outdoor use, the Jordan XXXVIII’s outsole will lose its power, as the abrasion will destroy its traction pattern.


  • Unmatched stability and support
  • Extra secure foot containment
  • Outstanding dust-proof grip
  • Excellent impact protection
  • Very grounded platform
  • Light for a mid-top shoe
  • Surprising breathability
  • Top-notch durability


  • Not for outdoor courts
  • Heel is not as stable as the forefoot
Full review of Air Jordan XXXVIII

Basketball shoes with ankle support with the best cushioning

Nike LeBron 21

What makes it the best?

Many Nike shoes can stand at the top of the cushioning scale. Yet to us, there’s only one model with the best ankle support that can say it has the best cushioning: the LeBron 21.

Its high-quality materials made sure our feet felt supported during our wear tests. We verified our feelings with our lateral stability, rigidity, and heel counter stiffness tests. In the first one, we tried to move our ankle from side to side, but it didn’t wobble (which was ideal when we performed in-n-out moves). In the second and third ones, we took the shoe to our lab and tried to bend it with our thumbs, pressing its heel counter, yet its solid structure didn’t give in. Accordingly, it earned a solid 5/5 in torsional rigidity and heel counter stiffness.

What makes its cushioning so wonderful is the mix of this stability with Nike’s technologies. The Zoom Turbo unit the 21 has in the forefoot offers bounce and powerful toe-offs; and the Zoom Air it has in the rearfoot made sure we landed comfortably, absorbing a lot of the impact. These work hand in hand with the low-stacked sole (at 26.6/22.4 mm according to our caliper) to keep the cushioning stable and responsive.

The major drawback of this shoe is that its premium design comes with a premium price. If you don’t want to spend that much, it might be better to have a look at more affordable models.


  • Wonderful performance overall
  • Amazing cushioning technologies
  • Nice bounce and shock absorption
  • High-quality materials
  • Great stability and supportive design
  • Good twist resistance
  • Effective grip
  • Eye-catching style


  • Not breathable
  • Rough and long break-in period
  • Pricey
Full review of Nike LeBron 21

Best lightweight basketball shoes with ankle support

What makes it the best?

Because of its unique design of not having any outsole, no other ankle support shoe came close to Under Armour Curry Flow 10 when it came to weight. We were also awed by its durability and, of course, the phenomenal ankle support that it delivered.

The UA Curry Flow 10’s soft midsole also served as its outsole. Having this design effectively reduced the shoe’s weight. Our scale pegged this shoe to weigh 12.63 ounces or 358 grams. This number is significantly lower than the 14.18 oz (402g) average.

Both the upper material and the heel padding displayed commendable abrasion resistance when we Dremel-drilled them in the lab. As a result, the features got a 4 out of 5 and a perfect 5 respectively for durability.

Having great ankle support was the reason the Under Armour Curry Flow 10 made it to this list in the first place. Its side walls and moderately secure (getting a solid 3 out of 5 rating) worked together to clasp the rearfoot and keep it in place even during aggressive movements.

Without a real outsole, this shoe could never withstand the pressures of the outdoors. Our HC durometer gave this shoe a 59.5 rating when the average could go as high as 81.8.


  • Fantastic traction on indoor courts
  • Pronounced court feel
  • A lot of spring back
  • Flawless heel-to-toe transition
  • Highly breathable upper
  • Very supportive and stable
  • Pretty lightweight
  • Stylish design


  • Not suitable for outdoor use
  • So-so impact protection
Full review of Under Armour Curry Flow 10

Supportive basketball shoes with the best comfort

Adidas Dame 8

What makes it the best?

Among all the basketball shoes that offer exceptional ankle support, it’s the Adidas Dame 8 that stands out when it comes to comfort. For one, its midsole felt soft and totally able to deliver impact protection for prolonged periods. We also appreciated how supportive the upper material was. Finally, we loved how protected we were from painful twists.

Upon wearing it, we immediately felt the softness of the cushioning system. Using our HA durometer in the lab, we learned that it’s actually softer than average (26.6) with a rating of 20.3. 

The upper material also felt responsive enough to keep our feet in place even during the most intense of movements. We have to point out that the lockdown that it provided did not in any way feel overly restrictive.

While running, we also loved how firm and stable the base of the shoe felt. After doing manual twists with it in the lab, we elected to give it a score of 4 out of 5 for torsional rigidity.

If there is one thing that we would change in the Adidas Dame 8, it would be its breathability. After conducting the smoke test on it, we were sad to give it a score of only 2 out of 5. Smoke just could not pass through the upper as easily as we hoped.


  • Good traction on clean courts
  • Impact protection in the heel
  • Forefoot responsiveness
  • Secure lockdown
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Side-to-side stability
  • Wide-foot friendly
  • Okay for outdoor courts


  • Dust magnet
  • Fiddly heel lining
Full review of Adidas Dame 8

Supportive basketball shoes with the best stability

Jordan Luka 2

What makes it the best?

Based on our games and lab tests, we found the Jordan Luka 2's design incredibly stable. It kept our feet right where they should be, and it gave us a confidence boost that made us go for riskier moves on the court. We believe this is the hooper with the best stability that has set foot on our lab.

Performing backdoor and V cuts didn’t make us wobble. We also went for aggressive dribbles, like crossovers, and the Luka 2 made sure we felt supported and full of confidence. This is thanks to its solid structure, which has a big medial sidewall and a TPU lateral panel. The shoe’s stiff nature made it score a 5/5 in our torsional rigidity and heel counter stiffness tests, too.

Once we took this hooper to our lab and cut it in half, we discovered some more stability sources. Its midsole features a firmer carrier EVA foam (at 26.5 HA according to our durometer) and a strong IsoPlate under it. Additionally, its mesh fabric is not stretchy at all, as it didn’t give in during our pull test.

Nevertheless, we don’t believe this is the best shoe to play in hot weather. Its materials and design focus on foothold, so it strongly lacks breathability.


  • Insanely stable and supportive
  • Unmatched foot containment
  • Balance of court feel and impact protection
  • Good durability for indoor courts
  • Grips well on clean courts
  • Generously padded interiors
  • Spacious toebox


  • Not for outdoor courts
  • Outsole picks up dust quickly
  • Not breathable
Full review of Jordan Luka 2

Why more ankle collar doesn’t mean more ankle support?

In the unfortunate event of stepping on another player’s foot (which is the primary reason for ankle sprains in 70% of cases), the delicate ligament in your ankle takes on your entire body weight! What’s more, it takes the hit from all the force that’s been generated in the prior running or jumping action.

Do you think that a few centimeters of shoe collar can prevent that ligament from spraining? Especially considering that collars are not as closely wrapped around the ankles and legs as braces are.

Now let’s imagine that you are wearing a high-top shoe with a super stiff, cast-like collar that wraps extra securely around the entire lower leg. You perform a very forceful lateral cut, your foot starts to roll over the edge of the shoe, and…Where does all that torque go? It must go somewhere, right?

Straight to the knee! The force travels up your tibia and fibula finding a “sweet” release in the knee joint causing a pretty bad knee injury. This, in turn, is a case against stiff ankle braces, but more on that later.

So, if neither low-top nor high-top basketball shoes can prevent ankle sprains or other types of injuries for that matter, why do some players still prefer one above the other? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each setup.

ankle collar heights in basketball shoes.jpg

High-top vs. low-top basketball shoes: it all comes down to preference

Our in-depth research on the topic revealed that there’s not a single fact-based evidence that collar height affects ankle/foot safety or athletic performance of basketball players.


However, a few studies and anecdotal evidence point to some benefits and drawbacks of both collar heights.

Why choose high tops?

  • This study suggests that a higher collar prepares the foot for inversion more quickly and requires a little less effort during muscle activation. This could be beneficial for bigger players in charge of rebounding the basketball under the rim.

  • Some basketball players simply prefer the feeling of “walls” around their ankles as it helps them feel more secure. Thicker and well-padded collars give them a sense of protection.

  • Some athletes hate the feeling of low collar edges digging underneath their ankles during cuts.

  • Some players suggest that having more material and more eyelets in the upper creates a more secure foothold and containment which, in turn, contributes to ankle support.

Over the past decade, high-top basketball shoes have seen a decrease in popularity as the game evolved and more players started leaning towards maximum ankle mobility. What’s interesting is that most high tops aren’t even classified as “High” on the brand websites. As their collar height lowered, these hoop shoes have transitioned into the mid-top category.

Are high tops more expensive than low tops because of the extra material?

Curiously enough, we found that they are not! For both categories, the average retail price (MSRP) hovers around $132-133. Premium and budget options are available among both low-top and high-top basketball shoes.

Why choose low tops?

The rise of low-top basketball shoes dates back to 2008 when Kobe Bryant became the first superstar NBA player to win both Championship and Finals MVP in a low-top shoe. It was his signature Nike Kobe IV shoe.

This precedent boosted the low-top craze in the NBA. These days, more than half of all new signature shoes are made with low-top collars. For example, the line of LeBron shoes made a shift to low-tops starting from the LeBron 20.


So why do players love a lower collar height so much?

A few studies revealed that low-cut shoes offer a notably bigger range of ankle motion which means more freedom of ankle movement for playing styles with a lot of sudden shifts and quick cuts:

  • higher inversion: 42.6 degrees (in low tops) over 38.1 degrees (in high tops). This motion relates to player-cutting maneuvers such as crossover or an off-ball cutting.

ankle inversion in basketball.png

  • higher flexion (downward foot rotation): 77.0 degrees (in low tops) over 85.1 (in high tops) in the minimal angle between ground and feet. Ankle flexion is one of the most common body movements in basketball. The most obvious example would be a jump shot or a layup/slam dunk.

ankle flexion in basketball.png

  • higher dorsiflexion (upward foot rotation): 32.2 degrees (in low tops) over 27.0 (in high tops) during weight-bearing maneuvers (squats).

ankle dorsiflexion vs flexion in basketball.png

  • Our lab tests also proved that low-top shoes are more flexible as they require 15% less force to flex to a 90-degree angle: 37.0N (in low tops) over 42.0N (in high tops).
  • Low-cut basketball shoes tend to weigh less and feel not so chunky on foot. Based on our lab measurements, the average weight of a low-top shoe is 13.3 oz (377g) in a men’s US size 9. Meanwhile, the average weight of a high-top shoe comes in at 14.3 oz (405g).

Still can’t decide between high tops and low tops?

Try a high-top design that has a lower-cut heel portion. This collar shape provides a bit more freedom longitudinally (front-to-back) without losing the support of side panels.

We found this collar design on the Air Jordan XXXVIII

Your sense of stability and comfort are more important than the height of a shoe collar.

If not an ankle collar, then what? 6 characteristics of a supportive basketball shoe

This may not be evident at first but ankle support starts way below the ankle.

To feel stable and well-supported on the court, a basketball shoe must meet the following criteria:

  1. High torsional rigidity
  2. Wide base with an outrigger
  3. Stiff heel counter
  4. Secure lockdown
  5. Grounded platform
  6. Solid traction

1. High torsional rigidity

The shoe should be so stiff that it’s hard or impossible to twist.

Example of high torsional rigidity in a basketball shoe (5/5)

Example of low torsional rigidity in a basketball shoe (3/5)

We assess the torsional stiffness of every single basketball shoe in our lab rating it on a 1-5 scale. Luckily, most good shoes these days hover around 4 and 5. A sturdy and rigid platform minimizes foot twisting during aggressive lateral movements.

2. Wide base with an outrigger

The sole should protrude visibly on the lateral side of the forefoot.


Having a wide base to rely on is crucial, especially when you perform dynamic and forceful cuts. Using a caliper, we measure the widest part of the sole in both the heel and the forefoot. A highly stable shoe will not be narrower than the average and will have a notable flange on the outer side of the forefoot to create a wider landing and push-off area for cuts.

3. Stiff heel counter

The back of the shoe should be stiff enough to hold the heel and ankle securely in place.

We perform a push-and-squeeze on each shoe’s heel counter and rate its stiffness on a 1-5 scale. The most supportive ones get a score of 4 or 5. A stiff, structured, and well-padded heel counter is an essential component of a shoe lockdown. It ensures a secure fit around the ankle, minimizing slippage and promoting stability during dynamic movements.

Example of a very stiff heel counter (5/5)

Example of a flexible heel counter (2/5)

4. Secure lockdown

The shoe must fit true to size with no in-shoe shifting, heel slipping, tongue sliding, etc.

The ideal basketball shoe must be comfortably tight. Enough so that the foot is restricted from moving around in the shoe, but not so much as to restrict circulation. A well-fitting basketball shoe can help maintain proper foot alignment when running and landing to minimize the risk of injury.


In our lab, we measure the toebox dimensions of every basketball shoe to let you know which ones have a snugger or more spacious fit. We also keep a catalog of basketball shoes available in 2E (wide) and 4E (extra-wide) width options.


An effective lockdown system helps minimize unnecessary foot and ankle movements, reducing the risk of ankle injuries during gameplay.


Most modern basketball shoes feature sidewalls or overlays made of TPU or other composite material to ensure your foot stays in the shoe. These often work in tandem with a stiff heel counter and supportive straps.


When trying on basketball shoes, pay attention to how well the external overlays, TPU heel counter, and ankle collar padding wrap around your ankle and heel.

They should provide a secure and comfortable fit, keeping your ankle stable without causing discomfort.

5. Grounded platform

A heel stack below 30 mm is less likely to cause wobbliness.

Both our personal experience and studies point to the fact that having less cushioning can lower ankle instability during lateral maneuvers. A firmer and lower platform will help to keep you more grounded, in touch with the court, and as a result, more in control of the ankle movement.

Can you see the difference in lateral stability between the shoe above (23.6 mm heel stack) and the shoe below (35.6 mm heel stack)?

6. Solid traction

Makes you feel surefooted by minimizing unpredictable foot shifts

This one is pretty self-explanatory - a grippier sole will make your movements and foot adjustments feel more controlled.

Why ankle support is subjective

Ankle support in basketball shoes is subjective because each shoe is designed for specific needs.


These factors include:

Your playing style

It's important to recognize that your style of play may not always align perfectly with the typical expectations for your position on the court. 

For instance, many players in guard positions like to drive and take contact. So they’d look for more cushioning and a more sturdy, extended ankle collar.

Whereas shoes like the Kyrie range are designed for responsiveness and not impact reduction.

Your history of injury

This one is pretty obvious. Players who have had ankle injuries or joint pain in the past should opt for better ankle support. Again, this is totally dependent on the severity of your injury.


Comfort and preferences

Some players prefer soft and plush cushioning while others like a more responsive feel. Some find high ankle collars too restrictive.

Shoes may not be enough. How to get more ankle support?

In the realm of professional basketball, ankle injuries spare no one.

Each NBA season, ankle sprains affect about 26% of players on average accounting for numerous missed games. Interestingly enough, professional athletes younger than 26 years old show a notably higher incidence of lateral ankle sprains than their older counterparts.

So how do you protect your ankles from the dreaded risk of injury? There are two ways (one doesn’t exclude the other):

  1. Wear ankle braces or sleeves, or use taping
  2. Strengthen your feet and ankles

Ankle braces, sleeves, and taping in basketball

Ankle braces are a must to consider if:

As a motion-blocking device, an ankle brace can feel uncomfortable to play with at first. This is the stiffest type of ankle support which requires a break-in period. Also, make sure that your current basketball shoes can fit the brace.

*Please note that rigid ankle braces limit movement and gradually get your muscles used to this setup. In other words, your body gets used to having an external device that stops its tendons and muscles from overextending. This can backfire in even more frequent injuries when you play without the braces.

Some athletes are wary of using the stiffest ankle braces because they could hurt the knees while protecting the ankles.

Ankle sleeves (or wraps) are a nice option if:

  • you don’t want the stiffness of ankle braces
  • you prefer a more customized fitment

Ankle taping is a very popular approach among professional players because it is highly customizable. Some of its drawbacks are that it’s single-use and loses support after about 45 minutes. And it MUST be done by a professional for you.

Tapes and sleeves are most popular because when properly fitted, they mimic the ATFL/PTFL and CFL ligaments of your ankle.

Strengthening your feet and ankles

Even though you can’t completely prevent accidental ankle twists, training muscles around your ankle joint can help minimize the damage when those accidents do occur.

Strengthening your feet and ankles is crucial during your rehab after an injury. Resting is not enough, you need to re-strengthen your ankle muscles and ligaments. Even when your physiotherapy sessions are over, it’s great to keep rehab exercises up when you’re warming up in your first training days/games after your injury.

This will help you heal and get back to the game faster. However, these exercises must be selected by a physical trainer or a physiotherapist. You don’t want to rely on people who don’t really know what they’re doing and get injured again!

Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.