Are High Top Basketball Shoes Better for Ankle Support?

If you’re thinking about playing basketball and looking for the best basketball shoes for ankle support, then you may be wondering why basketball shoes have high ankles in the first place? We’ll answer that here and look at why and the benefits a pair of high-tops might offer you.

We’ll then look at the new trend towards low-top basketball shoes, too.


Why Do Basketball Shoes Have High Ankles?


A Brief History of The High-Top Sneaker.

Most players have worn high-top shoes since the 1960s, but there was no uniform design before this. The high-top sneaker was adopted as the basketball shoe of choice by most professional players. 

It was thought that the high-top sneaker offered extra support for the ankle during play which is the main reason for the design. Ankle and foot injuries are the most common in basketball, so the high top is designed to help prevent or reduce the risk of injuries occurring.

Over the last few decades, high ankle basketball shoes have gone through many variations and transformations. Still, they have almost always kept the same high-top theme. Although recently, there has been a shift towards low-top basketball shoes, with some professional teams only wearing low-top shoes. 


The Pros and Cons of High Ankle Basketball Shoes.

With the shift towards low-top basketball shoes, there are now questions about the long-worn high ankle shoes. What are the benefits and possible negatives of high-top sneakers?


  •    Extra ankle support and cushioning helps to minimize injury risk and aid balance 
  •    Tight fitting around the ankle to help reduce movement and stabilize the ankle joint 
  •    Well cushioned with arch support to absorb impact and reduce strain on the ankle and heel
  •    Absorb impact pressure, reducing pressure on the ankle joint

Possible Drawback:

  •    High tops may increase injury risk due to the restrictive nature of the design
  •    Many high ankle shoes are heavier than low-top sneakers, which could be a possible detriment.
  •    Ankle tops may reduce flexibility and inhibit a player’s movements  


Do Low-Top Basketball Shoes Offer Any Protection From Injury?

While playing basketball, there is a high likelihood of injury due to the ankle’s range of motion. It has been a long-held belief that high-top shoes offer the best protection from these injuries. But in recent times, numerous studies have been undertaken to look further into this. Although the results are mixed, many have chosen to adopt low-top basketball shoes as a result. 

It is thought that low-top sneakers offer greater flexibility due to less restriction to the movement of the ankle. It is also believed that this flexibility helps reduce injuries, with fans of low-tops sneakers claiming high-top basketball shoes are too constricting. Their padding prevents muscles from responding quickly to an ankle turn, increasing the odds of an injury.


A Question of Personal Preference Over Hard Facts.

It seems some of the reasons why basketball shoes have had high ankles for such a long time are now the same reasons being cited for the move to low basketball shoes. The high ankle shoes mainly reduce movement and are designed to minimize injury, but in fact, maybe exaggerate the risk.

Although all do not agree on this, and in the end, your decision to wear high or low ankle basketball shoes may come down to personal preference and taste. It should also be said that not all those who wear basketball shoes play basketball and wear them due to their ankle support, comfort, durability, and iconic style. 


What Does The Future Hold For High Ankle Basketball Shoes?

With many top basketball players now switching to low-top shoes, it’s an uncertain future for high tops. Although there are hardcore fans of high-tops, they will not go away quietly, and many will continue to wear them for the many reasons stated above. 

As with many products, design and tastes change over time. Basketball shoes are no different, and their evolution is still in progress. The reasons behind high ankle basketball shoes are still valid, but on the flipside, so are the reasons why some are choosing to use low top shoes instead.

Written by Mark

Having researched and advised on hundreds of footwear products, I'm confident you'll find my articles insightful to the most common questions that's currently being asked online.

June 23, 2021

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