Finding the Best Basketball Shoes For Kids & Youth in 2017

Basketball shoes are specially designed for use on the basketball court and, thus, have specific features unique to the players’ demands for footwear. They are designed to provide excellent traction, ankle support, and comfort from the toes to the heel, all of which is crucial when running, jumping, and moving around the court.

These shoes are also used as streetwear due to their practical, durable, and trendy qualities, as well as their versatility, as they can be worn with jeans, skirts, and shorts.

When basketball shoes are used as intended, they should be replaced at least once every three or four months, depending on the frequency of use. Experts recommend replacing them once every month when a child plays youth basketball five to six times a week, even if there are no visible signs of excessive wear on the bottom soles. If it’s less frequent, such as only two or three times per week, then replacing basketball shoes every three to four months is ideal.

The importance of basketball shoe replacement cannot be overemphasized. When a child wears his shoes longer than recommended, it can increase the stress placed on the feet and legs, as well as on the related bone structures and soft tissues. Over time, the stress creates fatigue-related injuries that will eventually worsen until the player is unable to play. 

My Top 10 Picks for Youth Basketball Shoes

1. Nike KD 8 Youth

Nike KD 8 Youth

Suitable for: 4-12 years (Little Kid to Big Kid)

These shoes have Nike’s trademark Phylon material and Flyweave construction that provide lightweight, yet supportive, cushioning to the feet. The support to the feet is crucial during play, since running and jumping are both high-impact activities that can cause extreme wear and tear. The snug fit also ensures that the shoes will stay on, even during heated plays, but the shoes still respond well to sudden starts and stops in movement.

What's Great About It: The shoes have a snug, yet comfortable fit from toes to heel so your child will feel more able to move well on court. This is an important part of confidence that can translate to better performance.

2. Under Armour Boys' Jet Mid

Under Armour Boys' Jet Mid

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

The use of EVA material in the midsole and molded quarter panels in the upper ensure optimum support for every step and jump, both on and off the court. This is important, since older kids are more likely to suffer from overuse injuries due to their longer playing time. The antimicrobial cloth lining the interior reduces the risk of bacterial growth in the feet, while the perforations in several places promote better air circulation.

What's Great About It: These shoes are loved by kids because they allow them better control over their movements on the court, thanks to the excellent traction and grip provided by the herringbone pattern on its rubber outsole. Kids also like the shoes’ stylish design that stands out no matter their outfit.

3. Nike Kids Team Hustle D 6

ike Kids Team Hustle D 6

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

These are sport-specific shoes, from the durable upper to the sturdy solid rubber outsole. The upper is made of leather and synthetic material, a combo chosen for its added sturdiness, strength, and comfort, not to mention that it makes for great style.

The midsole is made of plush Phylon that offers comfortable and supportive cushioning, a must for active players whose fast changes in movement place stress on their lower limbs. The rubber outsole also provides a responsive quality to sudden changes in movement, such as in pivoting.

What's Great About It: These shoes are great for playing both on and off the conventional court, such as in a backyard game. Kids love them because they can hustle in them, just as the name suggests.

4. Nike Boy's Air Jordan 1 Mid

Nike Boy's Air Jordan 1 Mid

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

This pair was inspired by the iconic Air Jordan 1 in terms of design, but its features incorporate the latest in shoe technology. The stylish shoes attract attention on and off the court, thanks to the combination of luxurious nubuck and full-grain leather for their upper. The toe area has perforation for better circulation inside the shoes, while Nike’s Air-Sole unit provides lightweight, yet heavy-duty, cushioning against impact-borne stresses.

What's Great About It: The contemporary take on a classic icon is a must-have for its durability, performance, and beauty. Your child can always make it part of his streetwear collection when he isn't on the court, too.

5. Champion Boys' Varsity

Champion Boys' Varsity

Suitable for: 4-12 years (Little Kid to Big Kid)

These shoes have a more basic design than the colorful combos in other shoes. However, don’t be fooled by it because the pair is just as comfortable, supportive, and lightweight as any of the other shoes in our list.

This pair has a soft, yet sturdy, fabric lining, a combination of materials for its upper, a lace-up structure for ensuring a snug fit, as well as a padded insole for a cushioned feel on the feet. Even the padded tongue adds to its beauty, while also keeping the laces in place.

What's Great About It: The white shoes make it easy to spot your kid from amidst the colorful shoes, not to mention that there’s a simple, yet elegant, aspect to its overall design.

6. Nike Youth LeBron XIII (GS)

Nike Youth Lebron XIII (GS)

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

The shoes feature flywire cables that, according to the manufacturer, wrap from the mid-foot to the heel so that the entire foot enjoys optimum support from front to back. These also have several features for which Nike is known, such as the Zoom Air units that provide responsive cushioning for fast changes in movements and the Zoom LEAP system for increased propulsion during runs. The bottom line: the shoes are designed to support the agile movements of LeBron James, one the NBA’s best players of all time.

What's Great About It: The LeBron mark on the shoes is the main reason kids love owning these shoes, but parents know that the best reason for buying them are their durability, even with frequent use. The shoes are lightweight, too, yet still give kids the feeling of wearing the right footwear.

7. Under Armour Kids GS Curry 3

Under Armour Kids GS Curry 3

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

Stephen Curry is known as one of the most difficult NBA players to guard, so it makes sense that Under Armour named a pair of shoes in his honor. The Curry 3 has molded synthetic material for its upper, so you have the assurance that the shoes will have a snug, yet secure, fit (i.e., no slipping and sliding feeling inside the shoes). The air circulation inside the shoes is also better, thanks to the anti-friction cloth, sock liner, and micro-perforations, while the support aspect comes from the multiple cushioning.

What's Great About It: These shoes are designed to give kids the confidence and ability to move and change directions quickly. The outstanding traction comes from the herringbone pattern on the outsole.

8. Under Armour UA ClutchFit Drive 3

Under Armour UA ClutchFit Drive 3

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

These shoes are well-loved by parents and kids alike because of their superior breathability and durability, as well as their comfortable feel, snug support, and lightweight ride. These benefits come from their unique combination of features, including UA’s ClutchFit technology, a crash pad for absorbing impact in the heel, and an EVA midsole. The traction from the outsole’s herringbone pattern makes linear and lateral movements better, too.

What's Great About It: Even kids without any idea about the technical features in the best basketball shoes will clamor for this pair because it’s just so cool, both literally and figuratively. You, the parent, will like that it provides among the best value for money in sneakers.

9. Jordan Kids Jordan True Flight

Jordan Kids Jordan True Flight

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

Basketball shoes bearing the Michael Jordan logo sell like pancakes, and the Jordan True Flight shoes for kids are no exception! The nubuck leather, contemporary styling, and attractive colors make the pair suitable for wearing with basketball jerseys or street clothes. The herringbone pattern, a standard in many of the shoes on our list, was chosen for its excellent traction on the court.

What's Great About It: These shoes are inspired by the original Air Jordan 7, especially in the tooling aspect, but it has been redesigned to appeal to contemporary tastes among kids.

10. Nike Big Kids LeBron Soldier IX

Nike Big Kids LeBron Soldier IX

Suitable for: 8-12 years old (Big Kid Only)

These shoes are designed to support aggressive play from intermediate players. The innovative strap system contains the feet for a 360-degree lockdown from front to back and side to side.

The traction can only be described as solid, even beastly, on clean courts. The cushion is extra-comfortable, similar to the Soldier XI, while the Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel add even more protection against impact.

What's Great About It: The LeBron shoes are always popular, and kids will always want to own a pair. Parents appreciate the 360-degree lockdown, excellent traction, and reasonable price for each pair.

Teaching Basketball Skills to Children

Most basketball experts believe that for children 8 years old and below, the kids’ basketball playing time should focus on outcomes — shooting the ball, in particular — and on fun. When younger kids are pressured into learning basketball skills, they are more likely to become disenchanted, frustrated, and disillusioned with the game. Just focus on letting the kids enjoy playing with their peers, as well as discovering their dribbling, passing, and shooting skills, while parents provide gentle guidance in these matters.

When the kids are older, such as between 9 and 10 years old, parents and coaches can introduce technical instruction in a more formal setting. Organized programs are great for this purpose, since children learn the basic skills of dribbling, passing, and shooting, which are crucial in establishing the foundation for more advanced concepts in defense and offense. Of course, the fun aspect should still be present for children to remain engaged in the game.

However, the best youth basketball coaches will also adopt measures to ensure that improper techniques among their players can be prevented. The balance between enjoying the game and learning the skills necessary to succeed in it contributes to a youth player’s future success on the court.

Many coaches also develop youth players by using a performance pyramid model with emphasis on the following:

  • Movement, the foundation of excellent basketball, refers to the ability to move, including running forwards and backwards, skipping and jumping, and shuffling laterally, among others.
  • Performance refers to the efficiency and effectiveness of the movements, particularly with the appropriate power, precision, and explosiveness.
  • Skill pertains to the more advanced applications of movement and performance combined, such as jumping with power followed by a layup or jump shot.

The goal here is to produce well-rounded basketball players who can play well, play smart, and play hard on the court. Skill, athleticism, and attitude must be combined so that the youth athlete can become among the superstars of his generation, just like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry in their generations.

Conclusion

The right choice in basketball shoes is one of the first steps in producing outstanding youth basketball players. These shoes should provide the right balance between comfort and support, as well as flexibility, stability, and shock absorption, with durability coming in a close second. Parents and coaches must consider several factors in making the choice, said factors of which include the shoe materials and construction, the type of player who will be using the shoes, and the type of court where the games will be played.

But in the end, the youth player’s dedication and determination to learning the crucial skills in basketball will make or break his future in the sport, if he decides to take it to the next level in high school and college. He may even want to be in the NBA and make his own star!

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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