Do your basketball shoes feel a little flat on the court? Not meeting your expectations? Dragging down your performance? Before you consider buying into a brand new pair of basketball shoes, you may want to think about looking into insoles first.
More often than not, people spend hundreds for brand new shoes hoping to get a better step feel. But what many don’t know is that majority of shoes are designed with the same footbeds, so there’s really not a world of difference between the various models you’ll find.
If you want better bounce, support, and comfort, then a specialized insole is the way to go. These days, it’s easy to get your hands on footbeds that are specifically designed for athletic use. The challenge is finding the right ones for basketball, simply because the options abound.
On the hunt for the best insoles for basketball shoes? Just follow this ultimate guide.
What to Look For in Basketball Shoe Insoles
Why is it so hard to find the right insoles for basketball shoes? It’s mostly because there are a variety of insoles available on the market. And although some are advertised as sockliners for special foot conditions, they also work well for athletic use. So how can you make the right choice? These considerations should help you sift through your options.
1. Extra Bounce
One of the first things you should look for if you’re interested in buying insoles for basketball is bounce. Most shoes, like Nike and Adidas, use their own technology in order to help with rebound. For Nike, the most popular is the Air franchise which incorporates an Air unit into the sole which compresses and releases energy as you stride. Then there’s the Boost tech from Adidas, which provides full-length responsiveness to add explosive bounce to each step.
While these tend to work just fine, those who want more power out of their shoes combine these technologies with an insole that features reinforced heels. Extra cushioned heel units absorb more shock and provide improved momentum to push you further during toe off.
2. Proper Support
A good basketball insole should improve the support and stability you get out of your shoes. It achieves this by cradling the arches of your feet which is a pivotal aspect if you want proper weight distribution and biomechanics.
When it comes to ‘proper’ support, there really is no single standard. That’s because people can have neutral, high, or low arches, depending on their specific anatomy. There are also extremes such as very high arches and very low arches. That said, buying the right insoles for support relies greatly on your specific arch height.
3. Better Comfort
Some basketball shoes can make your feet feel sore and tired even after just a game or two. So it’s no surprise that most people who buy insoles for basketball shoes are out to improve comfort as their top priority.
Comfort is a relative term, and ultimately relies on your specific preference. But there are a few factors you can look into to help determine whether a specific insole will suit your standards. For starters, the make and material will have a very strong impact on the level of comfort a specific design offers.
Insoles can come in a variety of material types – gel, foam, cork, or a combination of the three. For basketball, you’ll find that the most effective choices use gel because they typically provide greater rebound and comfort.
Another important factor to consider for comfort is the insole’s silhouette. Full length insoles are better at optimizing weight distribution, but might not perform as well when it comes to responsiveness. Half-length or heel insoles can give substantially more bounce, but may displace weight forward because of the height they add to your heel.
Generally speaking, there’s no such thing as a ‘better’ length because it depends on what you prefer. It pays to keep in mind though that with either choice, there’s something to gain and something to sacrifice. It all depends on what you’re keen on achieving.
4. Sweat and Odor Control
Anyone who has ever played basketball already knows that sweat isn’t uncommon on the court. High speed running, jumping, and all around moving can make anyone drench in perspiration from head to toe. So it’s not unlikely that you might feel a little extra moist even inside your shoes.
Fortunately, there are specially designed insoles that help manage odor and sweat to extend comfort and make you feel more at ease even after a high action game. It also pays to consider whether your chosen insoles are easy to clean, as it’s definitely something you would want to do after a sweaty set.
The 4 Best Insoles for Basketball Shoes
So which insoles do a great job of covering all or most of these aspects such as extra bounce, proper support, comfort, and odor control? Let's take a closer look....
What insoles do NBA players use? Ask a few pros and you’re likely to hear that most of them use Sof Sole Insoles Athlete Performance Full-Length Gel Shoe Insert. These insoles are some of the most popular choices on the market, having received thousands of positive reviews from users all over the globe.
These insoles are made from Implus foam which can sustain substantial weight over daily use without losing its density. Gel pads in the heel and forefoot help improve support and comfort, and transfer energy throughout the gait cycle for a more explosive toe off.
Some other features that make the Sof Sole Insoles even more ideal include its Hydrolix moisture management tech, its full-length comfort, and its long lasting and durable construction that holds up well against wear and tear. In terms of its price, these insoles aren’t exactly what you would call expensive, but they do cost slightly more than other choices on our list.
Light and supportive, the Spenco GRF Basketball Maximum Performance Insoles are another top performer on our list. Designed specifically for basketball players, these inserts are incredibly lightweight, letting you enjoy an effortless step that doesn’t weigh down on your feet.
Comfort-wise, they’re definitely not going to disappoint. The soft foam material lined with a moisture wicking fabric is exceptionally soft to the touch, offering great flexibility straight out of the box. Honeycomb shaped gel pieces incorporated into the underside of the insoles absorb shock, retain energy, and help you blast off on your next stride.
The only reason why we didn’t rank these inserts any higher is because they are the most expensive choice on the list. With performance that’s at par with the more affordable Sof Soles, it all boils down to whether or not you’d be willing to shell out extra for the Spenco GRF Basketball Replacement Insoles
The Sport Full-Length Orthotic Inserts from Physix Gear are made from Dual Base Layered High-Performance EVA foam, which allows exceptional flexibility that gives you the freedom to move. Despite its extra pliable construction though, these insoles still provide substantial support for high, low, and neutral arches, making them an ideal all-around choice.
The topmost layer is lined with an anti-microbial fabric that keeps the insoles dry and cool to prevent odor from sweat. Underneath, the inserts feature a non-slip surface that clings securely against your shoes’ interior to provide you reliable stability through even the most high intensity games.
With its semi-rigid construction, these orthotic inserts provide superb support compared to all the other choices on the list. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and affordable to boot, so if you’re looking for something a little more on the budget-friendly side, these can make an excellent choice.
While they haven’t received quite as many positive reviews as the other three choices on this list, there’s a lot to love about the Shock Doctor Court Insoles. Firstly, these inserts are made from premium shock absorbing foam, allowing them to conserve energy from heel strike which it translates to forward propulsion during toe off.
The Shock Doctor Court Insoles also feature Shock Domes incorporated into the heel and mid-foot to take away the intensity of your feet striking against the ground so as not to injure your joints. It’s also worth mentioning that your arch height doesn’t matter when it comes to Shock Doctor, because the insoles are designed to adapt to your specific foot anatomy to achieve optimal weight distribution and support. This is why a lot of buyers label these the best insoles for flat feet as well as for high arches.
If these insoles are so great, why did they place last on this list? Simple – they require a bit of a break-in period. While all the other insoles we discussed felt great and flexible straight out of the packaging, these from Shock Doctor needed a little more wear before they reached that same level of comfort.
To bring your best game to the court, you need to wear the best gear – and that includes your inserts. If you’re on the hunt for the best insoles for basketball shoes, we recommend that you kick off your search with the Sof Sole Insoles Athlete Performance Full-Length Gel Shoe Insert. These premium inserts offer everything you might be looking for in basketball inserts, and definitely deliver performance wise.
Be sure to check out our other recos though if you want to find alternatives to Sof Sole. If not for a few minor flaws, these other picks would have made it to the top of the list, so they’re really worth considering as well.