Best Basketball Shoes for Youth

Basketball is a very popular sport among youth. To maximize performance and minimize the chance of injuries on the basketball court, it is important to wear the right shoes when playing basketball.

There are a few important factors to consider when buying basketball shoes for youth – breathability, cushioning, support, stability, and traction. We will look into these factors in more detail.

A good quality pair of basketball shoes for youth can cost anywhere from less than $50 to more than $150.

In the budget range from less than $50 to $70, you will typically get models made from cheaper materials. You will not find any proprietary techs in this tier. Examples of good shoes in this price range are Under Armour Lockdown 5 and adidas Hoops Mid 2.0.

In the mid-range from $70 to $100, you will find shoes with more technical features and made from better materials. Examples of good shoes in this price range are Nike Kyrie Flytrap 3 and adidas Harden B/E 3.

In the high-end range, from $100 to $150 and more, you will find flagship models made from premium materials, full of the latest and greatest technical innovations, and endorsed by big-name NBA superstars such as Lebron James. Examples of good shoes from this price range are Nike Kyrie 6 and Nike Lebron 17.

We will review the 10 best basketball shoes for youth on the market. We will also look at the 3 main brands that make the best basketball shoes for youth – Nike, adidas, and Under Armour.

​Best Brands for Basketball Shoes for Youth

The 3 best brands for basketball shoes for youth are – Nike, adidas, and Under Armour.

Nike

Nike is the most popular brand of basketball shoes. It has the most prominent NBA superstar endorsers – Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and more.

Nike is also the most technologically-focused brand among the 3 on our list. Its proprietary techs such as Max Air, Zoom Air, Battleknit, Knitposite, and Flyknit are all very well regarded by users.

The downside of Nike is that it typically charges the highest prices.

adidas

adidas is another top brand for basketball shoes. Its roster of NBA endorsers includes superstars James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Derek Rose.

Compared to Nike, adidas is a bit less focused on shoe techs. Instead, adidas sets itself apart by its fashion-forward shoe designs. But that is not to say adidas is not technologically sophisticated – its proprietary techs such as Primeknit, Boost foam, and Bounce foam are all well received by wearers.

Under Armour

Under Armour is a newcomer to the basketball shoe market. Among its NBA endorsers are former MVP Steph Curry and up-and-coming superstar Joel Embiid.

Under Armour shoes feature proprietary techs such as Boost foam and Bounce foam. The styling of Under Armour shoes is usually more conservative than that of adidas.

Under Armour tends to sell for a lower price than that of Nike and adidas.

adidas Kids’ Harden Stepback Basketball Shoe

On Sale
adidas unisex child Harden Stepback Basketball Shoe,...
  • Regular fit
  • Ergonomic lacing system
  • Textile upper with synthetic toe cap
  • Light, breathable feel

adidas Kids’ Harden Stepback is a very good mid-range basketball shoe for youth. It is endorsed by the NBA superstar James Harden. It is unisex, so it works for both boys and girls.

This shoe is very lightweight. It works best for those who play in the guard positions. The textile upper is very breathable. For those whose feet sweat a lot, this shoe is a godsend.

The outsole is made of a synthetic material that provides great traction and grip on all types of surfaces. For those whose games rely on making a lot of hard cuts and stopping on a dime, the Harden Stepback is just what you need.

Support is very good. The textile upper does a good job in locking down your foot. The shoe’s wide base adds to its stability.

The sizes of this model tend to run small. So, you probably want to order at least a size up.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Nice cushioning
  • Very good support & stability
  • Great for guards who make hard cuts and stop on a dime
Cons
  • Sizes run small

adidas Kids’ Harden B/E 3 Basketball Shoe

adidas Boy's Harden B/E 3 Basketball Shoe, Power...
  • Juniors' B-ball shoes that honor James Harden's childhood friends
  • Regular fit; Hook-and-loop quarter and strap; Sock-like construction for a snug...
  • Lightweight textile upper provides durability
  • Bounce cushioning provides enhanced comfort and flexibility

adidas Kids’ Harden B/E 3 Basketball Shoe is another great mid-range model of basketball shoes for youth. Just like Harden Stepback, Harden B/E 3 is a mid-tier model endorsed by James Harden. It is unisex, so it works for both boys and girls.

This shoe is very lightweight. It has a sock-like construction that gives it a very snug fit. The mesh textile supper is super breathable and also very durable. It locks up firmly around your foot to provide excellent support and stability.

While the Harden Stepback runs small, the Harden B/E 3 runs big. Make sure you buy at least 1 size bigger than your normal size.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Nice cushioning
  • Very good support & stability
  • Great for guards who make hard cuts and stop on a dime
Cons
  • Sizes run small

Under Armour Grade School Lockdown 5 Basketball Shoe

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Under Armour unisex child Grade School Lockdown 5 Basketball...
  • Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes better through passion, design...
  • Where we started? It all started with an idea to build a superior T-shirt
  • The technology behind Under Armour diverse product assortment for men, women and...

Under Armour Grade School Lockdown 5 Basketball Shoe is a budget model from Under Armour. It is light and comfortable, but also tough enough to wear all the time. The upper is made of a very breathable mesh fabric with a synthetic overlay that gives it extra durability and support.

Instead of the proprietary cushioning techs such as UA Flow, HOVR foam, or Micro G foam that are typically found in high-end Under Armour basketball shoes, the budget Lockdown 5 comes with a more generic cushioning tech – EVA foam. The EVA midsole is not the best cushioning you can find, but it does an adequate job of impact protection.

The support on this shoe is adequate, but we have experienced some occasional sliding of our feet inside the shoes when we make hard cuts.

This shoe runs true to size.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • True to size
Cons
  • Cushioning can be better
  • Support needs improvement – feet occasionally slide inside shoes on hard cuts

Nike Lebron 17 Boys Basketball Shoe

Nike Lebron XVII GS Boys Shoes Size 6, Color:...
  • Nike
  • Boys Shoes
  • Basketball Shoes
  • Black/White/University Red

Nike Lebron 17 Boys Basketball Shoe is the flagship model endorsed by the NBA superstar Lebron James. This shoe has one of the best cushioning in a basketball shoe you will find anywhere. Impact protection is superb. The price you pay for this exceptional cushioning is an increased weight – Nike Lebron 17 is not exactly a lightweight shoe.

The rubber outsole offers very good traction. Support and stability are great – the shoe upper locks down your foot and prevents it from sliding around.

All in all, this is a great basketball shoe, especially for bigger players who play a more physical game.

This shoe runs true to size.

Pros
  • Exceptional cushioning
  • Great stability
  • Great traction
  • True to size
Cons
  • On the heavy side

Nike Kid’s Kyrie Flytrap 3 Basketball Shoe

On Sale
Nike Kid's Kyrie Flytrap III 3 (GS) BQ5620 001...
  • Style#: BQ5620-001
  • These round-toe court kicks boast a traditional lace-up closure with a...
  • Midfoot Fit band creates a dynamic, contained fit.
  • Injected Phylon Foam midsole design creates light, flexible cushioning.

Nike Kid’s Kyrie Flytrap 3 Basketball Shoe is a mid-range model endorsed by the NBA star Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving is one of the quickest guards in the NBA. Ever. His Flytrap 3 shoe plays to his strength – speed. This shoe is very lightweight, perfect for a speedy guard to wear.

The curved outsole has a tread pattern that wraps the midsole from side to side, maintaining traction on your edges as you transition through your stride. The support is excellent, thanks to a hook-and-loop strap that crosses over the lace to secure your foot over the footbed.

In short, this shoe is perfect for a quick guard who makes sharp cuts constantly.

The Zoom Air unit provides cushioning that is responsive but not very soft. If you are looking for a shoe with maximal impact protection, this is not the shoe for you.

This shoe runs true to size.

Pros
  • Great support
  • Great traction
  • Very lightweight
Cons
  • Cushioning a bit lacking

adidas Child Hoops Mid 2.0

On Sale
adidas Hoops Mid 2.0 Basketball Shoe, Black/White/Vivid Red,...
  • adidas unisex-youth Basketball Shoe
  • The adidas brand has a long history and deep-rooted connection with sport....
  • Driven by a relentless pursuit of innovation as well as decades of accumulating...

adidas Child Hoops Mid 2.0 is a high-quality and durable budget mid-top basketball shoe from adidas. It comes with a sturdy upper made from synthetic leather and textile. Its collar is made of a breathable mesh material.

The whole shoe is lined with a comfortable textile. Cushioning is a bit on the light side. If you are looking for the most comfortable cushioning or the best shock absorption, the Nike Lebron 17 will probably be a better choice.

The rubber outsole provides good traction on all types of surfaces. It is also hard enough to stand up to any tough outdoor court without getting worn out prematurely.

The support is great. The mesh collar of this shoe locks down your ankle and holds it in place. It does a great job in preventing ankle sprains.

This shoe runs true to size.

Pros
  • Good traction
  • Sturdy and durable
  • True to size
Cons
  • Cushioning a bit lacking

Nike Kids’ Kyrie 6 Basketball Shoe

Nike Kids’ Kyrie 6 Basketball Shoe is the flagship signature shoe from the NBA star Kyrie Irving.

The shoe upper is made from a lightweight and breathable fabric. There is also a wide strap across the top to lock you in. Support and stability are great – your foot will not slide around inside the shoe doing even the hardest stops.

The outsole curved on the bottom with rubber traction wrapping up the sides to help keep you in control when making quick cuts to the basket. It lets you roll through every stride while giving you traction.

A large Nike Air Zoom Turbo unit in the forefoot provides highly responsive cushioning. Cushioning under the heel relies on a foam layer – it is adequate but can feel a bit thin at times.

This shoe runs small. Order at least half a size up

Pros
  • Great traction
  • Great support & stability
  • Bouncy & responsive cushioning in the forefoot
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Cushioning feels a bit thin under the heel

adidas Kids’ D Rose 773 Basketball Shoe

On Sale
adidas D Rose 773 Basketball Shoe, White/Solar Red/Black,...
  • adidas Unisex Basketball Shoe ; The adidas brand has a long history and...

adidas Kids’ D Rose 773 Basketball Shoe is a mid-range signature shoe from the NBA star Derek Rose. The “773” in its name refers to the area code of the innermost neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois. They are the neighborhoods where Rose grew up.

This shoe comes with a textile upper and a padded collar. Overall, the upper has a soft and cushioned feel. There is a lace closure that gives the shoe a snug fit.

Support and stability are great – making hard cuts in this shoe is a breeze.

It comes with a midsole made from adidas’ proprietary Bounce foam that gives a well-balanced cushioning – it is not the most comfortable but in return, you get a responsive bounce and a good court feel.

The rubber outsole offers decent traction – it is not as good as that of Kyrie 6 but it is more than adequate.

Pros
  • Great support and stability
  • Bouncy & responsive cushioning
  • Soft, cushioned upper
Cons
  • Traction not the best
  • Midsole cushioning could be softer

Under Armour Grade School Launch Basketball Shoe

Under Armour Unisex-Child Grade School Launch Basketball...
  • Extremely lightweight, breathable synthetic mesh upper moves effortlessly with...
  • Durable leather overlays for locked in midfoot stability
  • Enhanced cushioning around ankle collar for superior comfort
  • Easily adjustable cord lacing system provides the perfect fit

Under Armour Grade School Launch Basketball Shoe is a high-quality, no-nonsense mid-top basketball shoe from Under Armour. It does not have the name of any NBA players attached to it and it does not offer a whole lot of the latest and greatest gee-whiz technologies you would normally find in top-end signature basketball shoes.

What this shoe does offer is quality construction and good performance at a good price.

This shoe comes with a highly breathable mesh upper that is very lightweight. On top of it is a leather overlay that locks in your midfoot to provide extra stability and support. There is also an easily adjustable cord lacing system that gives you a snug fit.

Cushioning comes from a die-cut EVA sockliner and an EVA injected foam midsole. It is adequate, but not the best.

Floor control is good thanks to the herringbone traction pattern on the synthetic outsole. There are also grooves under the forefoot to provide added flexibility.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Good support and stability
  • Good traction
Cons
  • Cushioning could be better

Nike Kids’ Team Hustle D 9 Basketball Shoe

Nike Unisex-Kid's Team Hustle D 9 Grade School Basketball...
  • Leather upper provides durable support
  • Midfoot hook-and-loop strap locks down a secure fit
  • Lightweight foam midsole offers flexible cushioning
  • Thin rubber outsole provides traction

Nike Kids’ Team Hustle D 9 Basketball Shoe is another good quality, budget non-signature basketball shoe for kids. It comes with a relatively low list price, at least for a Nike shoe.

As this is a budget shoe, do not expect to see high-end proprietary Nike techs such as Zoom Air or KnitPosite here. What you do get in the Hustle D 9 is a no-frill shoe that does its job well.

The upper is made of a lightweight breathable fabric with an overlay on top to provide enhanced durability. There is plush padding around the heel and ankle area to make this a very comfy shoe.

Cushioning is on the light side, as it relies on just a standard foam midsole. So, if you have a heavier build or want a lot of protection against impact, this shoe is probably not the best choice for you.

Traction is good. The rubber outsole does a good job gripping onto the floor. The outsole is built to be flexible for quick cuts and fast moves.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfy padding around heel and ankle
  • Sturdy upper
Cons
  • Cushioning could be thicker

​Price Ranges for Basketball Shoes for Youth

A good quality pair of basketball shoes for youth can cost anywhere from less than $50 to more than $150.

In the budget range, from less than $50 to $70, you will typically get models made from cheaper materials. You will not find any proprietary techs in this tier. Examples of good shoes in this price range are Under Armour Lockdown 5 and adidas Hoops Mid 2.0.

In the mid-range, from $70 to $100, you will find shoes with more technical features and made from better materials. Examples of good shoes in this price range are Nike Kyrie Flytrap 3 and adidas Harden B/E 3.

In the high-end range, from $100 to $150 and more, you will find flagship models made from premium materials, full of the latest and greatest technical innovations, and endorsed by big-name NBA superstars such as Lebron James. Examples of good shoes from this price range are Nike Kyrie 6 and Nike Lebron 17.

What To Look for in Basketball Shoes for Youth

There are many basketball shoes on the market made specifically for kids and youth. Different brands have different proprietary technologies that they all claim to be the best. For a shoe shopper, this can all be very confusing.

To make it easier for you to navigate the landscape and buzzwords of basketball shoes, we will highlight the most important areas you should focus on when shopping for basketball shoes.

Breathability

It is important to keep your feet dry during basketball. If nothing else, too much sweat pooling inside your shoes can increase the chance of your feet slipping inside your shoes leading to injuries. For shoes that are breathable, look for ventilation holes or air vents on the uppers. Better yet, look for uppers that are made from mesh materials.

Cushioning

Not only does cushioning play a big part in determining how comfortable your shoes are, but it also plays a significant role in reducing your chance of injuries.

According to a study by researchers from several universities, when landing from a height of 45 cm, basketball shoes with the best level of cushioning reduce shock to the wearer’s shinbone by more than 15 percent compared to basketball shoes with just a regular level of cushioning.

For a good level of cushioning, at the very least look for an EVA midsole. Higher-end shoes typically come with better cushioning that is based on their manufacturers’ proprietary technologies. For example, Nike has Zoom Air and Max Air, adidas has Boost foam and Bounce foam, and Under Armour has HOVR foam and Micro G foam.

Support

A basketball shoe with good support will hold your foot in place during even the most abrupt movements. This will prevent your foot from slipping and sliding, reducing your risk of getting injured.

For good support, look for shoes with a sturdy and snug upper and a closure system that can tightly lock your foot in.

Stability

When you make hard cuts and stop on a dime in a basketball game, you put a lot of stress on your ankles and you risk ankle sprains and other types of injuries. A basketball shoe with good stability can substantially cut down your injury risk.

For stability, look for shoes with these features:

  • Wide Base: A wide base will prevent a shoe from wobbling or rolling when you make a hard cut or land on the floor
  • Outrigger: Outrigger is the part of the outsole that protrudes outward from the lateral side of the forefoot. Shoes with outriggers will be more stable
  • Shank Plate: A shank is a plate between the insole and outsole. It gives structure and shape to the shoe. It also reduces the load on your foot
  • Heel Counter: The heel counter is a small insert in the back of the shoe to reinforce the heel cup and increase support

Traction

For the best traction, you want outsoles made from rubber. Also, look for multidirectional tread patterns as they offer enhanced traction in all directions of movement.

Last update on 2021-04-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API