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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Support is an important part of every basketball shoe. When a lockdown isn't so secure, sprints become wobbly, shots are unstable, and the whole game just crumbles. Hence, sports shoemakers like Nike and Adidas equip their products with several support features. On this page, we present the basketball shoes that offer the most dependable support to the ankle.

Even though science has already shown us that collar height doesn’t really have that much impact on the amount of support that a shoe gives, mid- and high-tops are still preferred by the players for that additional wrap around the ankle. 

With that, we came up with the ultimate list of supportive basketball shoes through all-around testing. From research and actually acquiring the shoes to testing them inside and outside our lab, these shoes went through a lot before they ended up here!

 

How we test basketball shoes

To ensure the validity of our claims and eventual assessments, no review was written without us playing in the shoe 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
90
Superb!

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

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

Supportive basketball shoes with the best comfort

Adidas Dame 8
89
Great!

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

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

Supportive basketball shoes with the best traction

Nike KD 15
92
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Just because it’s a low-top doesn’t mean that the Nike KD 15 is already skimping on heel and ankle support. On the contrary, the lockdown in these areas was actually superb during our games. What’s even more noteworthy is the fact that this basketball shoe was such a huge star for grip on both indoor and outdoor courts. In fact, the KD 15 has the best grip among basketball shoes for ankle support.

In the lab, the KD 15 got a heel stiffness score of 4 on a five-point scale, where 5 is the stiffest. When playing in it, we felt the heel counter clasped the back of our feet well, not allowing it to slide and go places they’re not supposed to. The shoe’s ample padding around the collar not only kept up comfortable but also held the rear foot securely in place. We never had to worry about heel slippage and other similar stuff while playing.

Of course, how can we forget about the traction? This shoe was just a non-relenting monster in that aspect. Dust did not even pose that much of a problem on it. Wiped or not, the sole just kept on biting and providing us with the grip that we needed to keep going. We were just so happy that the sole is harder than average, so we had no issues using this shoe outdoors, too! Our HC durometer measured the KD 15’s sole hardness to be 83.0 (the average is 80.3). 

Using our digital force gauge, we learned that the forefoot of the KD 15 needed 48% more force than average to bend at a 90-degree angle. This stiffness made our steps a bit clunkier than what we would have wanted. Hence, we cannot recommend this shoe to athletes who want smooth heel-to-toe transitions.

Pros

  • Consistent grip on different surfaces
  • Dust-resistant outsole
  • Plush and protective foam
  • Bouncy midsole
  • Secure heel counter
  • Well-ventilated upper
  • Feels light
  • OK for outdoors

Cons

  • Not for wide-footers
  • Lacks flexiblity
Full review of Nike KD 15

Basketball shoes with ankle support with the best cushioning

PUMA MB.02
90
Superb!

What makes it the best?

The MB.02 from Puma offers the most satisfying cushioning among all shoes that offer ample ankle support. Its midsole tooling is both thicker and softer than average, delivering the impact protection that players need so much. Aside from amazing ankle support and impact protection, we also appreciated this shoe’s dependable twist resistance.

After measuring it using a caliper, we learned that the midsole of the MB.02 is thicker than average by 1.6 mm at the heel and by 3.3 mm at the forefoot. Our HA durometer also measured it to be softer than average, 22.4 against 26.6.

The Puma MB.02 wouldn’t be on this list if it didn’t amazingly deliver ankle support in the first place. The sidewalls and the heel counter worked together to give the back of the foot the support that it needed. 

Our steps were kept stable by the fairly stiff base that the shoe sits on. We gave this shoe a good twist and squeeze in the lab, and we were impressed by the rigidity of its twist resistance. We gave it a solid 4 out of 5 for torsional rigidity.

We just wish that the upper were a bit more breathable. At its current state, smoke that we pumped into the shoe found it hard to escape through the toebox material. The shoe only got a 2 out of 5 for ventilation.

Pros

  • Awesome impact protection
  • Top-notch ankle support
  • Superior stability
  • Excellent foot containment
  • Reliable traction
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Lacks energy return
  • Not breathable
  • Not perfect for outdoors
Full review of PUMA MB.02

Best budget basketball shoes with ankle support

What makes it the best?

When it comes to ankle support, the Nike LeBron Witness 7 is surely not a letdown. This Nike also offers a lot of breathability and effective twist protection. What’s even more amazing is that we got all such goodness for only $105 a pair, making it much cheaper than the $134 average for basketball shoes. Hence, we consider this Nike LeBron shoe as the best budget pick among all ankle support shoes on record.

Scoring a solid 4 out of 5 for stiffness in our manual squeeze test, the heel counter was surely able to keep the rearfoot in place. Its power was reinforced by the responsive side walls which prevented slips and other forms of instability.

We pumped smoke into the Witness 7 and we watched in awe as it escaped quite easily through the upper material. It got a solid 4 out of 5 for ventilation. On the court, we were just happy that our feet never felt warm and our socks were never soaking in sweat when we removed them.

No players like foot twists; these nasty things are just painful and dangerous. Hence, we were relieved when the LeBron Witness 7 felt really stable. After giving it a good manual twist in the lab, we were left with no other choice but to give this shoe a perfect 5 for torsional rigidity.

Just like many cheap shoes, the Nike LeBron Witness 7 also had durability issues. Our Dremel drilling succeeded in poking a hole in its upper. As a result, it only got a 1 out of 5 for durability from us.

Pros

  • Highly effective traction
  • Impressive impact protection
  • Optimum comfort
  • Breathable upper
  • Reliable heel lockdown
  • Good lateral stability
  • Great outdoor option
  • Fashionable design

Cons

  • Lacks court feel
  • Poor upper durability
  • No outriggers on the sole
Full review of Nike Lebron Witness 7

Best lightweight basketball shoes with ankle support

Nike Ja 1
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

We were so impressed with how light the Nike Ja 1 was. It made us jump higher and run faster. Besides its weight, we are also impressed with how stable and supportive it was. For all these reasons, we consider this shoe the best lightweight pick among all shoes that offer great ankle lockdown.

Weighing only 12.73 ounces or 361 grams, the Ja 1 is significantly lighter than the typical shoe that weighs 14.22 ounces or 403 grams. 

Much of this shoe’s stability came from its pretty rigid base. After manually twisting it in the lab, we were so impressed with it that we gave it a perfect 5 for twist resistance. We were confident that this shoe could keep us safe from painful twists all throughout our games.

The sidewalls and the heel counter played significant roles in ensuring support. The sidewalls felt secure without being too restrictive, and they gave just-enough lockdown for our side-to-side movements. The heel counter is nicely stiff, like 4 out of 5 stiff. We never felt that it would give in any time.

If there is one thing that we would like to complain about, it would be that the materials really felt cheap. That feeling stopped us from wearing this shoe in our non-basketball gigs.

Pros

  • A true bang for the buck
  • Amazing grip on the court
  • Quite a supportive ride
  • Pretty comfortable wraparound
  • Great plushness around the heel
  • Good forefoot bounce
  • Durable structure
  • True-to-size fit
  • Stylish look

Cons

  • Cheap-feeling materials
  • Still has to be broken in
Full review of Nike Ja 1

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

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

Why you need ankle support in a good basketball shoe

Basketball is a dynamic sport that demands quick movements, sharp cuts, and explosive jumps.

With such high-intensity actions, the risk of ankle injuries is ever-present. However, by choosing basketball shoes that provide adequate ankle support, players can minimize the likelihood of sprains, strains, and other ankle-related issues.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential factors to consider when selecting basketball shoes that prioritize ankle support, helping you make an informed decision for optimal performance and injury prevention.

Understanding ankle anatomy and Injuries

A brief overview of ankle anatomy

To appreciate the significance of ankle support in basketball shoes, it is essential to understand the anatomy of the ankle and the common injuries associated with the sport.

The ankle is a complex joint that consists of 3 bones, 3 main ligaments, and 3 tendons working together to facilitate movement.

Common ankle injuries in basketball

Injury

Mechanism 

Lateral Low ankle sprain

Inversion of the ankle joint which creates stress on the ligaments

Medial ankle sprain

Excessive eversion and dorsiflexion of the ankle creating stress on Deltoid joint

High ankle sprain

Forceful external rotation of the foot and ankle while the leg is in a planted position, creating a strain on the syndesmosis when the talus generates a separating pressure in the lower tibia and fibula.

Stress fracture

Overuse of the foot and ankle by engaging in frequent, repetitive motions that cause inflammation and microscopic trauma that progresses to a small fracture over time.

Jones fracture

Significant adduction of the foot with a simultaneously lifted heel

Achilles joint rupture

Forced dorsiflexion of the ankle with simultaneous contraction of the gastrocnemius-soleus complex

Moore, M. L., Haglin, J. M., Hassebrock, J. D., Anastasi, M. B., & Chhabra, A. (2021). Management of ankle injuries in professional basketball players: Prevalence and rehabilitation. Orthopedic Reviews, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/or.2021.9108

In basketball, ankle injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures are prevalent due to the sudden changes in direction, quick stops, and jumps involved. These movements can put immense stress on the ankle joints potentially leading to ligament tears or other damage.

How the ankle collar affects performance

Basketball shoes come in various upper designs, and each type offers a different level of ankle support. In this section, we explore the three primary types of basketball shoes: high-top, mid-top, and low-top.

High top

High-top basketball shoes tower with extended collars, delivering unparalleled ankle support and stability. High-tops have decreased in popularity in recent years, due to the game evolving and players leaning toward maximum mobility.

Nike Air Zoom G.T. Jump - 500 dark raisin/photon dust/atomic (CZ9907500)

Pros Cons
  • Restrict excessive eversion and dorsiflexion of the ankle 
  • Better energy absorption in the knees
  • Great for players with a history of injury
  • Better impact protection on the ankles
  • More material means more weight
  • Restrict mobility in movement
  • Bulky compared to mid and low tops

See all high-top basketball shoes

Mid top

Mid-top basketball shoes offer a balance between ankle support and mobility, making them suitable for players who desire both aspects. 

adidas-dame-8-review.JPG

Pros Cons
  • Enhanced mobility of the ankle
  • Moderate ankle support
  • Super versatile and can offer the perfect combination of support and mobility based on playing style and position.
  • Potential for limited impact protection 
  • Reduced ankle support compared to a high-top

See all mid-top basketball shoes

Low top

Low-top basketball shoes have a lower cut, prioritizing freedom of movement over ankle support.

nike-lebron-20-review.JPG

Pros Cons
  • Allows maximum ankle rotation
  • Lighter and more flexible 
  • Suited to players who rely on sharp cuts, speed, and agility
  • No aid to foot alignment upon landing
  • Minimal ankle support 
  • Minimal ankle protection

See all low-top basketball shoes

5 components of ankle support in basketball shoes

Heel counter stiffness and collar padding

A sufficiently stiff and well-padded collar not only enhances comfort but also ensures a secure fit around the ankle, minimizing slippage and promoting stability during dynamic movements.

We rate heel counter stiffness on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest. The average rating for basketball shoes hovers around 4.

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

Example of a flexible heel counter (2/5)

Lateral support and containment mechanisms 

The lockdown system in basketball shoes plays a crucial role in providing ankle support. It encompasses various features and mechanisms that secure the foot within the shoe, ensuring a snug and stable fit. 

nike-lebron-20-energy-return.JPG

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.

nike-air-max-impact-4-support.JPG

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.

Additional supportive features (Velcro straps)

Many shoes aid lateral support with the addition of midfoot, forefoot, and ankle straps. Strap systems can be a great option if you don’t want to compromise flexibility in the midsole and want a balance between support and mobility.

jordan-zion-2-strap.JPG

See our selection of basketball shoes with straps.

Lacing system

A key component in the lockdown system for any court shoe. Look for a basketball shoe with a secure and adjustable lacing system. This allows you to customize the fit according to your foot shape and preferences.

A good lacing system should also have multiple eyelets, especially those extending higher on the upper, this provides greater adjustability to your foot shape.

nike-zoom-freak-4.JPG

By properly tightening the laces, you can achieve a snug fit that minimizes ankle slippage and lateral movement, promoting stability and support.

Reinforcement for ankle and heel

Assuming you've found the perfect basketball shoe based on these considerations.

But you’re still seeking more ankle support to boost your confidence on the court, there are options available.

Ankle braces

  • Useful for players with a history of ankle injuries, chronic instability, or those who seek additional reinforcement. Can be uncomfortable to play in at first.

Ankle wraps and tape

  • Offer a more customized fitment and are more comfortable to play in. Depending on where you want the support, they may not provide as much rigidity as an ankle brace would.

If you’re a player with a history of injury, it can be difficult to step on the court and give it your all if you feel like your ankles are exposed. These external accessories are a great option to explore.

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, take contact and post up. 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.

nike-cosmic-unity-2-comfort.JPG

Comfort and preferences

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

Other important things to consider

Yes, ankle support is important for basketball. But you could have the most supportive collar design and the risk of injury could still be present if these factors aren’t carefully considered.

Size and fit

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.

jordan-luka-1-fit.JPG

On the flip side, if a shoe is too narrow for your feet, you’ll find that you start to compromise stability in your movements. 

nike-air-zoom-gt-cut-2-toebox-width.jpg

In our lab, we measure the toebox width of every basketball shoe to let you know what type of foot it is most suitable for. We also keep a catalog of basketball shoes available in 2E Wide and 4E Extra-Wide.

Types of cushioning and impact protection

Adequate cushioning in the heel area contributes to both comfort and ankle support. Quality cushioning materials, such as foam or gel, absorb impact forces, reducing strain on the ankles.

There are many different iterations of similar cushioning technologies used in today's basketball shoes. But here is an outline of the main ones. 

Nike Zoom Air

Nike incorporates its renowned Zoom Air technology to deliver responsive and low-profile cushioning. By strategically placing pressurized air units in the forefoot, heel, or both areas.

nike-zoom-freak-4-materials.JPG

Nike has put out many different iterations of Zoom Air technology like the zoom air turbo in the Kyrie series. And while there are plenty of shoes boasting super comfortable Zoom cushioning, you should always try your shoes on to assess the cushioning.

Traction

If you’ve played a game of basketball, you’ll know the pain of playing in a shoe that doesn’t have compatible traction with your style of play and court surface.

If you predominantly play on indoor courts, you’ll want to look for a softer outsole with a more aggressive traction pattern with a hard bite to combat the dusty and smooth indoor surfaces.

nike-zoom-freak-4-outsole-grip.JPG

On the other hand, when choosing shoes for the blacktop (outdoor courts), you’ll want to avoid soft and translucent outsoles as they will wear much faster on the more abrasive surface.

nike-air-max-impact-4-outsole.JPG

We measure both thickness and hardness of each shoe's outsole rubber to better understand its capacity for outdoor use.

nike-precision-6-outsole-hardness-durometer.JPG

Herringbone traction patterns are traditionally known to provide the best grip on the court and most main manufacturers use their iteration of this traction pattern in most of their shoes.

nike-air-zoom-gt-cut-2-outsole.JPG

FAQs about ankle support in basketball shoes

Can wearing basketball shoes with ankle support improve my performance on the court?

Basketball shoes with ankle support do not necessarily improve performance. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests the risk of overuse injuries is lower in shoes with ankle support. And many players find it easier to play at max intensity when wearing a shoe with good ankle support.

Can I wear ankle braces or other external ankle support with basketball shoes?

Yes, Ankle braces are designed to fit inside Basketball shoes. Still, we recommend testing shoes with your brace to ensure comfort.

Note: Some braces may take some time to break in.

Author
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.