Today, we’ll talk about something that I’ve noticed some of you make an effort to research – basketball shoes that make you taller.
Across the hundreds of releases of hoop shoes each year, it might be a bit difficult to take the time and pick out the ones that fit your preference. And that preference might be making you slightly taller for one reason or another.
This is where I come in – I’ll do the heavy lifting for you by first quickly explaining what actually makes a basketball shoe elevate your height, I’ll weigh the benefits and drawbacks of it, and will also share my handpicked list of the 5 best shoes that will make you taller, while still being top performers on the court.
Let’s get into it!
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HOW EXACTLY DO SHOES MAKE YOU TALLER?
Before I get into the meat of everything, I’d need to explain what part of the shoe actually has the biggest effect on elevating you, thus making you appear slightly taller.
Some of you should of course already know this, but the main part of the shoe that affects the ride height is the midsole.
It’s the shoe’s cushioning setup, and how the cushioning units and/or the midsole itself is designed to sit under the foot that has a direct effect on your height.
Let’s put this into perspective.
You got one shoe with a very firm, low the ground midsole, that’s designed for guards. This shoe will ride very close to the ground, thus it won’t make a noticeable difference in your height. It will basically feel like a running shoe, or just a low-profile, casual sneaker.
And then you got another shoe with very bouncy cushioning that focuses on delivering maximum impact protection. This will make your foot sit higher off the ground because of the more present midsole, which means you’ll appear a bit higher than in your standard pair of shoes.
Is the difference between the two large?
Not really, but you can definitely spot a difference if you’d switch up between the two pairs occasionally. An average pair of basketball sneakers elevates you about 1 inch from the ground. The shoes with the tallest midsoles can elevate you 1.5-2+ inches.
That’s not that much on paper, though I always get comments from other players and mostly friends that I look taller today, which is when I come out with a pair of higher kicks, such as the LeBron 17 for example.
Speaking of which, here’s the LeBron 17 above – you can see how high the shoe’s midsole portion is. These boast a Zoom Air + Max Air cushion tech in the forefoot and heel areas, along with a thick midsole. Your foot does not sit directly under the midsole, as it sits on top of the large Zoom Air and Max Air units, making you elevate off the ground more than usual.
These add about 1.5 inches to your height.
And here’s the Nikey KB Mentality II – you can see its midsole portion is much thinner, thus the shoe sits much lower to the ground. The shoe has a low-profile Lunarlon midsole for responsive cushioning.
You sit directly underneath the Lunarlon midsole, so you won’t be as elevated as you would on a LeBron 17.
These will only add 0.6-0.8 inches to your height.
So yeah, it is noticeable, but what for?
Let’s break that down…
WEIGHING THE BENEFITS VS. THE DRAWBACKS
There are two sides of the coin to pretty much everything and wearing a basketball shoe that elevates you more than normal does have both its benefits and sacrifices.
Before you get into a shopping spree of “taller” shoes, I want to first let you know what you’ll be getting into, so you can roughly decide what’s best for each and every one of you personally.
+ MORE IMPACT PROTECTION, MORE BOUNCE
Having a meatier midsole usually means the shoe is catered towards players who need more energy return upon movements and require more impact protection.
This is a very good thing MOST OF THE TIME. I usually prefer a setup with cushioning that’s more on the bouncier side as I like to play explosively, and lots of all-around players love having springy cushion under their feet.
This accommodates your jumps well so you feel more bouncy and impact upon landings will be absorbed better than a usual pair of lower profile kicks. And it’s usually just more FUN to play in this type of shoe – you just feel like you’re jumping on clouds, and each movement is made very comfortable.
– MINIMAL COURT FEEL, LESS RESPONSIVENESS
With having a higher, more plushy midsole comes the cost of having much less court feel, and even less responsiveness, as it takes more time for the shoe to give in and sink into your movement, thus the energy return is slightly delayed due to the less dense form of cushion.
Compared to a lighter, firmer setup, you won’t deliver your movements as quickly as you would on a low-profile setup such as Nike’s React. Riding higher on the ground will also mean your foot won’t naturally have as much court feel, so usually, more precise movements for spot-up shooters or quick guards will be delivered better on firmer, thinner cushion setups.
Once again, I must point out that the difference in these areas isn’t as dramatic as it might seem, but you’d still need to keep this in mind if you’re in search of your optimal sneaker.
+ PLAY MORE SECURELY, AND POSSIBLY LONGER
What does more impact protection mean? It means that you will be able to play more securely and possibly enhance the longevity of your knees, joints & ankles if you’re someone who’s not in your prime years anymore.
This is especially important to take into account, as a shoe’s cushioning setup implementation can have a dramatic effect on how comfortably you perform on the court, how your joints and muscle feel after a session, and for how long you can still play keeping injuries away.
So from a security standpoint, you should definitely be looking into more present, soft, and higher cushion setups if you feel like your performance isn’t the best or you’re not feeling comfortable inside of a fast, thin midsole.
This is a must to consider and will play a role in withstanding any form of injury & recovering in between games.
– HIGHER USUALLY MEANS LESS STABLE
Yeah, basketball shoe technology is still far from perfect, and having an especially bouncy, plushy, and thick layer of cushioning will usually mean there’s a chance for your foot to feel less stable during movements.
This is because there’s usually no carrier or space for it to encase the whole midsole and make it more stable, as the midsole and/or the units are larger than your usual firm setup with a light midsole.
Having less stability due to this means lateral support can be a bit weaker, and your movements can feel like you’re on a boat floating on water as opposed to a formula stuck to the ground.
Again, this boils down to personal preference but overall, you never want your shoe to feel less stable then you’re comfortable and confident with during the peak moments of a session.
Don’t get me wrong, there are several examples of a very bouncy shoe with a thick midsole implemented in a very stable way but this is still not the usual.
That’s why it’s always a great idea to read up on shoe reviews first before getting one!
5 BEST BASKETBALL SHOES WITH THE HIGHEST ELEVATION
Now that you’re informed on the subject and can pick out what’s best for you, here are my picks for the best kicks that make you taller!
I’ve tried my best to pick out the models that excel off the court in all-around performance, as well as provide as much stability & security as possible despite being higher off the ground.
#5 Under Armour Clutchfit Drive 3
Retail Price: $125
Coming at number five in the list, UA’s sleeper, the third Clutchfit Drive model improved upon the 2nd and gave us a much more versatile all-around performer at a low price. The shoe’s cushioning consists of dual-layered Charged and Micro G, and you will sit pretty high off ground. However, not too high which would compromise your stability and take away some responsiveness.
I think this is one of those well-made setups that accommodates heavier players but also keeps the speed and responsiveness to an extent, thanks to the Charged portion in the heel. Your foot sits directly underneath the midsole but you feel stable and supportive thanks to other implementations of the shoe.
A very well-done sneaker from Under Armour, check it out!
#4 Nike LeBron 17
Retail Price: $200
The Latest LeBron sneaker coming in at number four – and boy are these fun to play in. The midsole is very thick as you can see, so your foot will sit underneath Zoom Air units in the forefoot and Max Air bags in the heel areas. Under those is a thick Phylon midsole, so the shoe is loaded in terms of cushioning.
This will be catered more towards players who need more impact protection and energy return in favor of less responsiveness and almost non-existent court feel, due to the shoe riding so high off the ground.
I can’t avoid mentioning that these are also stable and very supportive. LeBron’s kicks are always tanks (so is he) as the man himself needs all the security he can get.
If you can afford to spend 200 bucks at retail, you’ll be in for an extremely fun ride, paired with beastly all-around performance. Just don’t consider these among the best options if you’re a below-the-rim guard.
#3 Nike LeBron 15
Retail Price: $185
An older model of LeBron’s signature line – even though the newer 17th iteration could be considered as more advanced and improved, the priority of this list elevation off the ground.
And the LeBron 15 elevates you up to the skies compared to the rest of the shoes in the list.
Max Zoom Air units that are ridiculously large are utilized on the shoe’s midsole, and it feels unbelievable. Even bouncier and more fun than in the LeBron 17, plus the all-around performance of the shoe is fantastic.
I’d say these are also made for heavier, more linear players that need more spring-back than court feel. Lateral stability is something to consider as sitting so high off the ground makes it almost impossible to achieve 100% security.
Still though, I didn’t personally experience issues with it when I was playing in them a few years ago, so if you can still find them at stores, these are a TON of fun to play in!
#2 Nike KD 13
Retail Price: $150
The Durantula’s latest sneaker coming in at number two, the KD 13 is a true beast on the court and this is the most balanced, versatile package in the whole list. You’re getting a ton of performance, you’re not unstable, you’re getting maximum security at all times and you’re still pretty high off the ground. Not as high as with the LeBron 15 but still more than usual.
The shoe’s midsole consists of full-length Zoom Air, which is amazing. Your foot is directly underneath it ALONG with an additional forefoot Zoom unit. Amazing.
I wouldn’t rank these among the top three models in the support category but I still felt confident and contained while playing at my comfortable style.
Very large and heavy players, specifically pure centers should probably look for something a bit more sturdy but for the rest of us – it’s more than capable.
#1 PICK – Air Jordan 34
Retail Price: $175
One of the most amazing releases in 2020, the 34th Air Jordan is back with all of its glory. This is not the highest shoe among the five but it’s still elevated clearly more than a standard or a lower profile shoe.
The reason I’ve put these at number one is because of their crazy versatility and pure all-around performance. There was not a second where I felt unstable or insecure with these. Traction is fantastic on pretty much all floors, and the Zoom Air cushion setup is ridiculously effective, yet balanced so it doesn’t lose all its responsiveness.
Forward or guard, lighter or heavier, the AJ 34 will handle any load you throw at them if you got $175 in your pocket that is.
All while sitting high off the ground and giving you those inches of elevation.
I HIGHLY encourage you to check out my comprehensive review on the Air Jordan 34, which should inform you on the shoe’s comfort and performance, so you’ll know what you’ll be getting.
Alright, that’s it for today’s guide!
Just in case the price for the AJ 34 or for the rest in the list is a bit too much – here’s a list of the best kicks under 100 bucks.
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or would just like to chat,