Looking for the very best women basketball shoes? Well, there has never been a better time to do so with women’s options on the rise and now almost up to par with men’s shoe selection across the many brands.
However, I know some of you might still be stuck, don’t know what to go with, or not sure what’s available to you in terms of actual solid performers on the court. That’s where I come in.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Best Time to Find Women’s Shoes is NOW
- The Ultimate Checklist for a Quality Shoe
- How I Chose the Shoes
- Best Women Basketball Shoes: 6 Picks
- Expand Your Shoe Knowledge From Home
THE BEST TIME TO FIND WOMEN’S SHOES IS NOW
From signatures to budget team models – plenty of kicks for women!
Why is it the best time to put down your head and hunt down a perfect pair of women’s shoes?
The recent blow-up in athletes signing more signature shoe deals than ever and unlike several years ago, most signature shoes released by your favorite brands are becoming available in women’s sizes. Even certain team models can be found in the most popular sports retailers or staples like Amazon.
So, if we had to compare men’s and women’s basketball shoe options right now, there are still more men’s shoes, don’t get me wrong there. However, it’s easier than ever to find a good women’s pair now.
That’s why I want to emphasize – DO NOT look down on the available choices you’ve got. More stuff is available to you than you probably thought!
IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT WOMEN’S SHOES?
Not at all.
Women’s shoe releases are identical to men’s (with a handful of exceptions over the years), they just come in different sizes. That’s pretty much all you need to know about that.
If you’re doing some research on a particular shoe or shoes, you can apply the same characteristics you find on men’s shoes in terms of tech, materials, colorways available, and so on. All you need to do is make sure that the shoe is available at your wanted size, and most brands’ stores indicate women’s equivalent size to men’s sizes.
It’ll look something like this in most stores:
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST WOMEN’S SHOES?
Let’s talk specifics. Just like men’s releases, you’ll want to start at the brand retailer sites. You can find the currently available shoes for women here for Nikey, here for adidas, and here for Under Armour.
However, you’ll only find the latest releases from the brands over at their original retailer stores, so if you’re eying for an older model, you will want to visit Amazon (click for a full women’s shoe catalog) and check if that shoe is available at women’s sizes.
If it’s a signature and it’s up to 2-3 years old – chances are there’s a woman variant available.
And of course, your usual sports retailers such as Finish Line, Footlocker, Eastbay (click for a full women’s shoe catalog) & company will have a bunch of women’s shoes available for kicks that are up to 1-2 years old and of course the latest releases as well.
That would be your plan of attack – though if you’re not having much luck finding your size for a particular model, eBay (click for a full women’s shoe catalog) would be the last resort.
I’m not a huge advocate for getting shoes on bidding/reselling sites but hey, been there, done that. If there’s no other option – you CAN snatch a good pair for a great price if you’re lucky.
THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST FOR A QUALITY SHOE
For women and everyone who likes hoops
Now that we have an idea of the arsenal available to us and where to look for it, let’s talk about the essential parts that make up a quality well-rounded basketball shoe. As mentioned, we now know that women’s shoes are identical to men’s counterparts, so everyone can use these simple tips when choosing a pair.
While there are always more details you can look for when choosing a shoe, I firmly believe and always stuck to the main keys below which should get you going. The rest will only make a marginal difference.
I. FIT IS WHERE IT STARTS
It all starts with the fit. You can pack all the tech, expensive materials, and put out colorful marketing campaigns but a shoe should first fit your foot properly and provide a comfortable experience no matter the movement.
This might sound as obvious for some but don’t get it twisted – dozens of people still don’t even know their true shoe size as they either hop around trying different sizes for each pair or end up trashing the shoe when the real problem was the fact that they don’t know how a basketball shoe should ideally fit their respective foot shape.
And don’t forget about breaking your shoes in – sturdier materials like leather, nubuck, or Fuse/TPU-based stuff can take a while to feel optimal on the court. Patience.
Of course, how a shoe fits is also your personal preference. Perhaps you prefer a complete one-to-one fit where you don’t leave any room for your feet or perhaps you rock with a looser setup with a bit more room to breathe.
However, the shoe should, one, make you feel comfortable, and two, make you feel secure no matter how you move. Too loose of a fit with room for error can end up compromising containment, while too tight of a fit can cause blisters, foot suffocation, and an overall unpleasant experience that distracts you from the game.
Here’s my guide for how a basketball shoe should fit – this should give you some insight to get started and how you should be thinking about the fit of a sneaker.
II. WELL-ROUNDED PERFORMANCE
Provided the shoe you’re eyeing fits you properly, let’s talk about performance. We MUST ensure a shoe provides the critical components that supplement the game of basketball in terms of comfort, efficiency, and security.
Consistent multi-directional traction, effective cushion setup that propels movements & absorbs impact well, a trusty support system providing all-around security but not overly restricting, and a build that provides comfort & is able to move well with your foot.
III. VALUE FOR THE MONEY
Pricier doesn’t always mean better. In fact, this is becoming less and less true with the big dogs such as Nikey and adidas putting out budget models that cost half of an average signature model but perform just as well if you know what to look for.
And don’t forget about overseas brands such as Li-Ning, PEAK, or ANTA that consistently puts out quality shoes for much less than your usual mid-tier Nikey model. It’s not about the price – it’s about how the shoe is built and what it offers for that price.
I’ve got plenty of shoe budget guides for you, breaking down what to expect in each one, and what to generally look for and also handpicked shoe lists when having $100, $150, $200, or even $50 in your wallet to spare.
IV. THE EXTRA DETAILS
And lastly, there are the additional details that might not drastically affect the way you feel about a particular shoe but can certainly increase the value & add some quality of life improvements which is always a nice touch.
Perhaps you’re constantly playing outside under the hot sun, and your feet get hot quickly? Look for knit-based or mesh-based shoes that offer ventilation. Perhaps you’re flat-footed and can’t afford to have flimsy tooling underfoot? Look for shoes that offer a midfoot shank for better torsional support.
Or perhaps you love the way a one-bootie upper feels? You know, when the tongue of the shoe isn’t separated from the build and extends all the way into the material, acting as a single piece. Those types of kicks can be tough to put on but they sure do offer a very secure-feeling fit most of the time.
Regardless of what you’re looking for or what would be cool to have, I’ll do my best to mention such details in each shoe on the list below.
HOW I CHOSE THE SHOES
Here are the main keys I stuck to when putting the list together
Since both men’s and women’s hoop shoes are built the same, it’s back to the 4 main steps (along with the quality shoe checklist above of course) of how I put my shoe lists together. I believe these factors are just as important for you to know as the shoes themselves.
I. MAXIMUM VERSATILITY
Remember, the shoe list is devoted to ALL women which means we’re looking for the most versatile shoes possible. I want to put together a list that’ll be convenient for just about any person who finds it, and this means the kicks should offer balanced performance no matter the build or playstyle.
I did my best to pick out the shoes that all offer comfort & a proper fit, a balanced ride to supplement most people, plentiful support that doesn’t overly restrict, and quality materials that get the job done.
II. TRIED-AND-TRUE PERFORMANCE
I can’t recommend something I haven’t personally tried or don’t have enough insight on. That’s why each shoe on the list was personally tested and played in by me for at least a couple of months (mostly longer though).
This is why you might see the absence of certain new shoes here – I simply haven’t yet got around to hooping in those. I believe it’s best not to include the stuff that MIGHT be good and stick to the stuff that’s tested and has been proven trustworthy.
And since we’re in 2021, quarantine is still killing us. In my country, all indoor gyms are closed, so all kicks launched in 2020 or 2021 were solely tested outdoors.
III. FRESH PICKS ONLY
Only the latest & greatest were included in the list. In other words, shoes that launched in the last few years only made it to the list. I’m not a retro hater as I do have a bunch of pairs from the 2000s lying around but for convenience’s sake, performance kicks should always be recent.
This is to make sure each and every sneaker is still widely available to get at your favorite stores for a good price and in your desired sizes & colorways. Good luck finding a pair of 2010 Hyperdunks for a price worth paying today.
IV. CHECK BACK LATER!
And last but not least – be sure to come back to the list and any other lists of mine occasionally! I do my best to regularly update all of ’em if I find new shoes that are worthy of replacing/adding to the list. In a year’s time, you might even see an entirely different list! Or not, who knows.
BEST WOMEN BASKETBALL SHOES
6 picks, in no particular order. Each shoe’s strong points, possible drawbacks & things you should know before buying. My current favorite to start
List last updated on the 23rd of April, 2021
MY CURRENT FAVORITE
I. NIKE COSMIC UNITY
FULL REVIEW 💰 $150 🏆 8.4
AN ALL-AROUND BEAST WITH A TWIST
Hoop AND save the environment? Here’s the Cosmic Unity for you – a shoe made up of 25% recycled waste, part of Nikey’s Move To Zero movement. It’s about time the Swoosh started doing something about this, as we all know how much waste the company produces on a daily basis, with such a massive scale of production.
But environment talk aside, the shoe is a great performer for just about anyone – I loved my time with these, even outdoors.
Deadly traction that’s capable of outdoor play for a good amount of time, a freakishly well-balanced full-length Zoom strobel cushion setup that feels as bouncy as a KD 13 but as low to the ground as a Kyrie 7 would.
Then we also got security that’s not slowing you down or restricting you and a quality knit & textile upper that joins the club of the most durable knit-based builds. Right there with the three most recent LeBron shoes.
If you can afford this one – I highly encourage you to check it out, these are both fun and performance-friendly!
THINGS TO REMEMBER
You should go true to size with these, but for women with thicker/wider feet – this isn’t the best option due to the narrow frame. Being a wide footer myself, I felt acceptably in these but not all the time.
There were days where I just couldn’t reach that desired level of comfort and certain movements that cause the shoe to flex were uncomfortable.
And be sure to be patient with these – the upper, the beefy midsole and that massive heel piece all need some to break in before feeling the way they’re intended. A couple of weeks did it for me. You might also experience some heel slippage initially but it went away for the reviewers that reported on it. Haven’t experienced it myself though.
> Looking for a good wide footer’s shoe instead? Here are the best options for wide feet
II. NIKE ZOOM RIZE 2
FULL REVIEW 💰 $160 🏆 8.4
THE ULTIMATE FUN FACTOR
If we’re talking about having the most FUN on the court (while still having great performance), the second Zoom Rize model is the GOAT. Yes, I just said that. What might sound like a basic setup, the forefoot Zoom unit + a Phylon midsole feels absurdly great here. Each time I put these on, I know I’m strapped for one hell of a ride.
I’m talking crazy bounce, pillows underfoot type of stuff, with each take-off feeling explosive and literally making me feel more jump-y than I actually am at times. It’s seriously good and something people need to try to fully comprehend. Don’t worry though – it’s still a well-balanced setup, as I wasn’t feeling slow or clunky in these.
And then we’ve got fantastic traction that’s reliable for extensive outdoor play, excellent all-around support, and an upgraded textile upper that’s lighter than its earlier counterpart but keeps the same amount of structure & containment.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Wide footer or not, most girls/women will be a-okay with their true size in these. A wider last than the Cosmic Unity, plus a forgiving textile upper will leave some room for adjusting, so you’re good.
If you’ve got a compact, narrow type of foot shape and you prefer a very snug, one-to-one feeling fit, going down half a size is also an option.
Oh, and you might feel a little weird at first if you’re not used to a higher platform. These definitely ride quite high of the ground so if maximum court feel is your thing – the Zoom Rize 2 is not for you. I personally got used to it super quick though and the end result is awesome.
One last thing, there’s an EP version of the shoe available. It’s tougher to get than the regular one but that version comes with even more durable rubber, made for outdoor play. If that’s your thing – you can try hunting it down. Or, customize the shoe via Nike By You and slap on XDR rubber outsoles which will also slightly increase durability.
> Looking for something quick & low to the ground instead? Here are the best guard’s shoes
III. ADIDAS DAME 7
FULL REVIEW 💰 $110 🏆 8.8
A BALANCED SIGNATURE FOR CHEAP
It’s Dame time! Seriously, the guy constantly puts out some killer shoes at a fraction of the usual prices we’re getting from Nikey or Jordan. Priced at $110 – there’s simply nothing the Dame 7 can’t do that a KD or a LeBron shoe could. If we’re talking balanced on-court performance that is.
The adidas Dame 7 features Lightstrike cushion and here it offers some crazy softness at the heel, while things are much faster & firmer at the front.
This huge contrast seemed a little iffy at first but once I got used to it – I appreciate this setup a lot. Smooth heel-to-toe transitions, plentiful impact protection, and no sacrifices in speed or stability.
As per usual for the Dame line, reliable rubber is used for the outsoles, so we’re getting both killer traction and outdoor durability as a result. The upper utilizes mesh with Fuse as a backing for additional structure and even though it’s tough to call this setup a “premium” one, I see nothing wrong with it performance-wise.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Go true to size with these. For ultra-narrow footers, going down 1/2 a size is a route you can go with but I see most women being just fine with their usual size. Expect a little bit of wiggle room at the front though. A usual for adidas’s stuff.
Since the traction pattern here is relatively dense, dust/debris tends to pile up rather quickly inside. Occasional wiping was needed to keep the grip in check for me but mostly if playing on a crappy, banged-up court.
Lastly, be aware of the weird lace shenanigans adidas just loves to not address. My laces kept loosening literally SECONDS after pulling ’em down, and no matter how hard I do them. I got used to it but it’s something that could’ve been avoided.
> Think adidas’s releases are dope? Here are the best adidas basketball shoes
IV. UNDER ARMOUR EMBIID ONE
FULL REVIEW 💰 $120 🏆 8.3
A BIG MEN’S SHOE? THINK AGAIN
What’s this? Joel Embiid’s signature shoe making a women’s shoe list? That’s right. It’s not just a big men’s shoe – the UA Embiid One is actually a great all-around performer that checks all the boxes needed for just about any player. Women included!
The shoe offers full-length MicroG cushion with a HOVR heel unit and the setup is great. Probably not GOAT status and nothing as crazy fun as the Zoom Rize 2, but everything’s here in terms of performance.
Impact protection, bounce, underfoot comfort, and stability. And there’s a little bit of court feel here too – everyone should find this setup sufficient. Just don’t expect to be running on clouds. If that’s not a problem – you’ll love how these feel.
The rest of the shoe is just as stellar: traction that bit every outdoor court I took ’em on, support that locked me down but still kept me agile, and a lightweight open mesh upper that’s breathable, comfy, and takes virtually no time to break in. And I’m a wide footer.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Most women should go true to size with the Embiid One – expect a snug fit. I don’t advise on going up from your usual size as this upper’s pretty forgiving, so you might run into containment issues.
One thing that bothered me initially was the TPU wings laterally – those rammed my foot on certain lateral motions but that’s mostly due to my wide feet and it went away shortly.
Lastly, use these as your primary outdoor option at your own risk – the rubber used here isn’t the weakest I’ve seen but definitely not among the hardcore outdoor club. Occasional games will be fine for a while though.
> Looking for a classic center’s shoe instead? Here are the best basketball shoes for the frontcourt
V. NIKE LEBRON WITNESS 5
FULL REVIEW 💰 $100 🏆 7.6
A BUDGET OPTION THAT WORKS
Here’s a nifty budget option for ya. Priced at $100, LeBron’s secondary signature line actually produced some bangers. And don’t forget these go on sale and on outlets quickly, so you’ll find them for even cheaper if you really look.
The LeBron Witness 5 packs two large Zoom Air units in the forefoot and a plush Phylon midsole for cushion. The best way to describe this ride is that it doesn’t get in my way. I felt quick, nimble but never overly stiff or overly plush.
This is a great choice for a shifty guard but even a high leaper will enjoy these since there’s a baseline level of underfoot comfort & impact protection here.
Probably the least amount of cushion out of the entire list but let’s not get it twisted – this is still a solid setup. Just a bit more low-key than the rest. You’ll really love it if you prefer faster setups.
And it doesn’t end there – we’re getting solid traction, proper all-around security, and a super-thin mesh upper that’s as minimal as it gets. Takes no time to break in, it’s very light, breathable, and wraps around the foot nicely. Pretty good for a budget model.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Most of you will want to go true to size, though going up half a size is an option if you prefer a roomier fit. And if you’ll be opting for outdoor play – I’d advise choosing a colorway that utilizes solid rubber outsoles. The translucent options tend to break down quicker.
Although whichever option you go with, the rubber here isn’t the most durable. I found myself with nearly naked outsoles about 4 months in but the traction is still there. Just not on out-of-the-box level anymore.
> Looking for a true outdoor tank instead? Here are the best outdoor basketball shoes
VI. CURRY 8 FLOW
FULL REVIEW 💰 $160 🏆 8.3
THE FORMULA OF THE BUNCH
My new favorite Curry shoe happens to be the latest Curry 8 Flow – the Splash Brother’s independent Curry Brand debut sneaker. We’ve got a price increase from the last model but for the stuff that’s offered, I’ll take it.
The Curry 8 Flow features Under Armour’s Flow cushion and it sure as hell flows. Pun intended. Think of the Curry 8 as a runner but converted for a basketball court. Yeah, these are MAD comfortable.
This midsole offers some of the smoothest step transitions I’ve ever felt, all while keeping solid impact protection, speed, and court feel. Everything’s here and it doesn’t feel like it. It’s weird. Hard to explain. But in the most positive way possible.
The Curry 8 Flow is ridiculously light. Rubber is completely omitted to shed weight, as the entire lower portion is made up of one-piece foam. In result, we’re getting deadly traction that’s also great for outdoor play and a feeling you get with a lightweight runner.
Lastly, the upper uses an ultra-minimal knit that’s really comfy and contorts to my foot shape almost the second I’ve put them on. Yes, even for a wide footer. If there’s such a thing as a “next-gen” basketball shoe, this is it.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
For this one, I’d highly recommend trying them on first before buying. A lot of people went up half a size with these, including me, but women with more compact foot shapes could end up feeling just fine with their usual size. If quarantine is still imprisoning you and you can’t try them on – go up half a size and hope for the best.
Due to the runner-like offset from heel to toe, I found myself bumping my toes to the forefoot pretty frequently which wasn’t very awesome. Put on some grippy socks for these.
Lastly, due to the nature of this minimal upper and virtually nothing to back it up, heavier/explosive players might find this build a little too wonky. While I appreciated how comfortable and lightweight these feel, questionable foot containment kept me from calling these perfect.
But if you’re someone who’s light & has a low-profile playstyle, these should be just fine.
> Looking for a very supportive experience instead? Here are the most secure basketball shoes
EXPAND YOUR SHOE KNOWLEDGE FROM HOME
The same principles can be applied both to women and men!
That’s a wrap for the best women basketball shoes! Expect more shoes to be added soon, as I’m always on the hunt! Thanks a lot for staying with me and I hope you found the list useful! However, your hoop shoe journey doesn’t have to end here.
Now you know that both men’s and women’s shoes are pretty much identical – I’ve got plenty of practical guides & shoe lists cooked up for you! What you see for men will apply just as well for women, so don’t hesitate to check ’em out!
And of course, no guide is complete without your insight! I’m always excited to hear your thoughts on everything sneakers & basketball. Have you played in any of these shoes and feel different about ’em? Perhaps you’d like to add something that would prove valuable to the reader? Or you’ve got a question?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you shortly!