Best Basketball Shoes For Dunking
Are you trying to find the best basketball shoes for dunking? Height is an important factor to consider if you’re a basketball player.
The tallest NBA players all have a distinct advantage over their shorter counterparts, because they don’t have to jump far to block an opposing team member from making a basket of their own.
Height has always been associated with skill in the game, but there have been a number of star NBA players who don’t even reach 6 feet.
Even though they’re average height, or in some cases even shorter, they still manage to slam dunk and score points like their taller opponents.
How is this possible? Shorter basketball players make up for their height through their ability to jump.
Much of that comes from specifically training the vertical jump, through increasing power and strength, but it isn’t purely physical skill—it also comes down to their shoes.
Just like runners choose their shoes carefully to help improve their speed, basketball players choose their shoes based on other personal needs, such as ankle support or how high it allows them to jump.
A great pair of shoes combined with an athlete who has trained their vertical jumping skills can mean a basketball player soaring as much as 4 feet to smash that ball into the hoop.
No matter how much taller an opponent is, they’re rarely a match for that kind of jump height.
If you’re hoping to be a great basketball player and want to soar through the air like the greats, choosing a good pair of shoes is essential.
This article breaks down the basics of shoe choice for you, and helps you choose the perfect pair of sneakers to play with.
With that being said, let’s go ahead and take a look at our top picks for dunking shoes.
Top 5 Recommended Shoes For Dunking
1. Nikes Men Hyperdunk
For clean courts, nothing beats the Nikes Men Hyperdunk.
It has a full range of features that make that slam dunk you’ve been dreaming about a breeze.
This is a medium top that offers some ankle support.
This support is enough to keep your ankle from folding over after your amazing jump, but not enough to prevent you from making that jump in the first place.
The midsole features Nikes famous zoom air cushioning, which feels bouncy and light under your feet.
When landing a jump, the midsole’s foam takes the impact before allowing the zoom technology to take over.
This helps absorb shock over a long period of jumping, so that your joints won’t suffer.
The Outsole isn’t to be ignored either, featuring a sound wave like pattern very similar to herringbone.
This pattern gives you traction in all directions, and the soft rubber is very grippy and allows sudden stops with ease.
Finally, this shoe offers superior lock down with flywire cables that insure your foot won’t be moving around no matter what.
This shoe fits true to size, and appears to be designed for a variety of athletes, as well as different positions in basketball.
It’s a great all around shoe, with relatively few flaws.
What some players did complain about was that the materials making the shoe weren’t the highest quality, and that this shoe doesn’t handle dusty courts or asphalt well at all.
If you’re looking for a shoe that can take outdoor play, this is not the shoe for you.
2. Nike Kyrie 3
We all know that aesthetics can make the difference between a good shoe and a great shoe.
The Nike Kyrie 3 has some of the best options in terms of color choice compared to similar basketball shoes, plus it has great performance too.
This shoe improves your dunking power through the shoe’s sole, which features a bouncy sole that allows you to jump high and land strong without hurting your joints.
A bouncy feel can really give you an edge on your jumping capabilities, and should not be underestimated.
The Kyrie 3 is also a very grippy shoe which does just fine on dusty courts, although you may need to give them a quick wipe between games.
While this shoe is perfect for indoor courts, you should choose another shoe if you’re looking for something that can hold up to asphault.
This shoe does not do well in outdoor performances, and can lose traction as well as wear out prematurely.
This shoe is also great if you are looking for a shoe you can dunk with on a budget.
This shoe is one of Nikes fairest priced sneakers.
They perform very well for their price tag, making them a great all around shoe for everyone.
Some people who have worn this shoe complained that the toe box is too stiff, as well as complaining about a general lack of cushion.
The shoes strengths are largely grip and feel, at the expense of some other important factors in shoes.
If you know you prefer good feel and a solid grip over comfort, this could well be the shoe for you.
3. Adidas Harden
If cushion is the most important factor to you in a shoe, look no farther than the Adidas Harden.
These shoes have some of the best cushion the industry has to offer. The secret is the Harden’s unique full length boost.
The super soft cushion makes you feel fast and low to the ground, giving you everything you need to drive for that basket.
The Adidas Harden is a very responsive shoe, and its state of the art lacing system will keep that shoe tight to your feet no matter what crazy moves you pull with it.
Combine this with solid impact resistance and you have a near perfect shoe for dunking in.
If you’ve been disappointed so far by the shoes not being good for outdoor use, then you’ll be thrilled with the Adidas Harden.
This shoe is perfect for outdoor use and can hold up even when playing on asphalt.
Adidas Harden also has one quality you have probably been hoping for in all of these shoes—it enhances your jump itself.
The impact protection and general bounciness of the sole will help you through every aspect of your jump.
This is a great shoe indoor or out, so if you like to play games on all kinds of different surfaces, this is the shoe for you.
4. Under Armour Men’s Curry 3
If ankle stability while your getting those slam dunks is what’s most important to you, the supportive under amour men’s curry 3 is the choice for you.
Under Armour isn’t one of the leading brands in basketball shoes, but it’s starting to get a reputation for putting out high quality shoes.
The Under Armour Men’s Curry 3 has a lot of potential in helping you reach for that hoop without fear of what’s going to happen to your ankles when you come crashing down.
The upper features a burrito like tongue that wraps around your ankle for ultimate support, and it has some great traction.
When it comes down to slam dunks though, Micro-G® and Charged Cushioning® in the midsole are the key features you need to pay attention to.
These features not only give you the ability to make quick cuts and sudden stops on the court, they also give you maximum energy return, so you can use that energy for the burst you need to reach the hoop.
With these shoes, in combination with vertical jump training, you may be able to close the distance between yourself and the ultimate prize, slam dunking the ball into the hoop.
Last but not least, this shoe has great breathability, with mesh material that will help your feet breathe.
That means you can practice as much as you want to without hot, sweaty feet forcing you to stop.
As with all shoes, there are some drawbacks to the Under Armour Men’s Curry 3.
Those with high arches will want to avoid the shoe, because it does not have enough support for the foot itself to make the shoe comfortable.
5. Nike Lebron 17
These are some of the highest performing shoes in the basketball world, with rave reviews from every team position.
These shoes are good for both indoor and outdoor play, and even on dusty courts.
It has air cushions that help protect your joints from damage, while also giving you some energy return as you run down the court.
As an added bonus, the Nike Lebron 17 has a unique aesthetic design that will help you stand out on the court, with both texturing and color options.
This shoe has a lot to offer, and has lock tight fit that will keep your shoe where it belongs no matter what crazy moves you come up with.
We showed you our top five picks, but there are plenty of other great shoes out there.
Nike, Adidas, and even Under Armour are constantly working to bring new and better shoes to the market.
Their research means lots of options. Although these shoes didn’t make our top pick list, they are worth mentioning.
6. Nike KD 12
Another good shoe by Nike, this features the full length zoom air cushioning the same as the Hyperdunk.
It also features a lock tight hold that will keep the shoe on your foot, and the fit and materials are of the highest quality.
This shoe didn’t make our top five because of the translucent rubber outsole, which generally isn’t a good option for traction.
The Nike KD 12 isn’t bad as far as traction goes with a classic herringbone patter that grips in all directions, but it does require a break-in period of about two weeks before it shines in this area.
7. Nike Zoom Rize
This shoe is one of the more eye catching basketball shoes out there.
The flashy outsole colors will really get you attention on the court, and it has some of the best traction available.
The shoe has a unique herringbone pattern that goes all the way to the edges, providing 360 degree traction no matter what angle you hit the shoes with.
Some people say it feels like there are suction cups sticking you to the floor, which may annoy some people, but make others feel more secure as they fly across the court.
The shoe is very responsive, and fits well right off the bat. This is a great all around shoe.
8. D.O.N. Issue #1
D.O.N. Stands for Determination Over Negativity, and is a fun shoe with a lot of great features to it.
Not only does it look amazing with crazy colors straight out of a comic book, it features herringbone grip that wraps around the sole so you even have traction when you hit the court at an angle.
This shoe also has great cushioning and feel, making it a good all around shoe.
Reviewers have praised this as being one of the most comfortable shoes available.
It has great bounce, and may have the potential to help you reach that basket.
As a well rounded shoe, this should have made our top five picks, but the narrowness of the herringbone ridges makes it so that you lose that amazing traction on dusty courts, or if any small thing catches in the ridges.
It’s a great shoe, but only for sparkling clean courts.
If you’re eager to grab a pair of shoes and get out there, we’ve condensed this article into our top five picks for different types of basketball player.
Mid-tops are a compromise between high-tops that give you full ankle support at the expense of ankle mobility, and low tops which offer no support at all.
Mid-tops are best for active players who need to make quick turns and sudden stops, as it offers both protection and mobility.
If you’re looking for the best vertical jump mid-top, Nike Men’s Hyperdunk is your shoe.
Sometimes making a statement with your shoes is just as important to you as the game itself.
An amazing design can help boost your confidence, and make you feel better about your game.
If appearance is as important (but not more important) than results, the Nike Kyrie 3 has both high performance and great looks.
Best for dusty courts
Not everyone has great courts to work with. If the courts you play on are notoriously dusty, you want a pair of shoes that help you jump good and not injure yourself getting to that point.
For dusty courts, Adidas Harden are a good option.
If comfort is critical for your shoes, look no farther than the Under Armour Men’s Curry 3.
These quality shoes will last you a long time, and give you armchair comfort too.
Who are these shoes good for?
Shoes that improve your vertical jump are designed for the people who tilt their head up at a 10 foot tall hoop, and dream of being able to make it there with ease.
A slam dunk is an amazing feeling, and without a great pair of shoes you’ll probably struggle to reach those heights.
Of course, jumping skills aren’t the only component to a good shoe.
They also need to protect you from injury, give you enough traction to help you make the most of your game, and provide enough comfort to enable you to play for long hours.
A lot goes into a good quality shoe, and it’s helpful to break down just what makes a good shoe before looking at brands and models.
Here are some of the most important parts of the shoe, and what they mean for your jump.
The first consideration for any basketball shoe starts with the upper.
There are three major types of uppers, and they do different things for different players. Shoes come in low top, medium top, and hi-top varieties.
Low tops are not recommended for basketball because they provide no support or injury protection without any real benefits. Always look for a medium or hi-top.
Medium tops are best for players who like an aggressive game, and are constantly changing directions and speeds.
Medium tops provide some ankle support and injury reduction, while allowing maximum flexibility.
On the other end of the spectrum, hi-tops are perfect for players who have weak ankles, or who need more support.
They restrict some ankle movement, but give maximum protection from injury.
It’s not enough to pick a shoe with a mid to hi-top.
If the materials in the shoe are not of good quality, you may discover yourself shopping for shoes once again because the shoe gave out right away.
Different materials also offer different benefits.
Mesh will make your shoe more breathable, which keeps your feet from getting too hot and sweaty as you run.
On the other hand, leather or synthetics may last longer than mesh, but at the cost of that breathability.
Deciding what material you want means figuring out what is most important to you.
The midsole is where the cushioning is. The more cushioning your midsole has, the more comfortable the shoes will be.
A midsole can be made out of foam, polyurethane, or very stiff materials designed to prevent your foot from rolling during play.
It’s important to have at least some cushion for the sake of your joints, but low to moderate cushioning is fine.
The midsole is also really important for your slam dunks, as they are in part responsible for how high you can jump.
The midsole can help you by returning some of the energy that you expend running or jumping back into your leg, giving you the maximum use of your body possible.
The midsole also determines how bouncy the shoes feel, and to some degree how stable it is.
If you’re interested in making the most out of your jumping skills, the midsole is a key part of your shoe to focus on.
The very bottom of the shoe is your outsole.
This part of the shoe is also critically important because it will determine how much grip you have, how long the shoe will last, and ultimately how well the shoe performs.
A shoe that lacks grip may be treacherous, especially on dusty courts, and the wrong type of materials may make it more difficult to play in or wear out prematurely.
Look for a hexagon or herringbone pattern when choosing a shoe, as these have reliable grip in any direction.
Last but not least, ultimately how a shoe looks will decide whether you will wear it or not.
Obviously you don’t want to wear something hideous that will get you laughed at, but aesthetics goes beyond that.
A great looking shoe can build your confidence, and make you feel good about your performance.
During a tough game, any edge you can get is important, and if you have a great pair of shoes that makes you look fabulous, it may well play a role in how you perform.
All of these things need to be taken into consideration when looking at a shoe, and when you know all the factors it makes it easier to pick a shoe that will let you make a great slam dunk and play a great game when you’re not jumping too.
All of these shoes are great recommendations for the court, but they won’t help you unless you also practice your vertical jumps.
Even the best shoe can only return to you the energy that you give it, which means you need to be able to put the force into the jump necessary to reach the target.
A great pair of shoes can help you keep your grip as you approach the jump, give you a little bounce so your jump is slightly higher, and protect your jumps from the impact of returning.
All these things together can promote a higher jump, but they still need you as the missing piece of the puzzle.