Should Basketball Shoes Be TIGHT? Tested & Answered! (2020)

Today, I’ll be answering the burning question some ballers, especially beginners tend to ask – should basketball shoes be tight?

I’m sure some of you have asked this question at least once after putting on a new pair of hoop sneakers and they were feeling extremely tight, rigid.

Perhaps that’s how it should be to preserve a secure fit while playing an intensely physical game?

Well, things aren’t as simple as that, which is why I dedicate this guide to all of you who’s wondering what’s up with this whole concept of tight vs. loose shoes.

I’ll be covering where this idea could’ve come up from, break down some of the myths that are still widely believed in today, and also help you find the correct fit.

Let’s begin!

WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM?

Casual players or complete beginners who haven’t done proper research in terms of how a basketball shoe is made, what goes into the thought process, generally.

That would be my guess, though it’s, of course, impossible to determine the source specifically. What I’d need to ask you, is to kind of try to break out from this one-sided mindset and think of it in a bit of a different way.

And that’s why we have to break down the myth first to get a proper understanding…

BREAKING THE MYTH

So, the myth is generally that a basketball shoe should feel tight because that’ll help with its support on-court and also keep your foot contained to prevent the risk of injury.

Well, it’s partly true but not totally.

Yes, a shoe should feel secure, your foot should be locked down and contained, but only to an extent where it’s still comfortable.

Playing long hours in a shoe that feels extremely tight and rigid at all times actually increases the risk of injury/your foot’s shape being altered in a way you don’t want.

It’s counter-intuitive. You NEVER want any shoe to affect how your foot is shaped, which is what can happen if you let yourself wear a sports shoe that’s very tight and feels like a burden more than anything else.

Wearing a shoe that’s supportive, secure but also making sure it’s comfortable and that you have enough mobility for your play style is the ideal scenario that you should always aim for.

Of course, there are two more main factors that should be taken into account while talking about this concept/idea/myth, whatever you want to call it.

Let’s get into that below…

THE BREAK-IN PROCESS OF A SHOE

This of course is true for all kinds of shoes, not only basketball ones. Certain sneakers with more rigid materials, such as leather, nubuck, rigid synthetics, etc. are extremely likely to have some sort of a break-in process before it feels the way it should.

Should Basketball Shoes be Tight: LeBron's

By break-in process, I mean that you shouldn’t feel concerned that a leather LeBron shoe feels uncomfortable, tight, and just weird during the first few days of play.

The tight leather material has to break in, properly adjusting and molding to your foot while you play.

Sometimes, a shoe can even feel extremely uncomfortable and even bring pin into the occasion, but believe it or not, that’s normal a lot of times, and goes away after a few days.

Basically, if you’re getting a pair of leather, nubuck, synthetic fuse, or similarly rigid material hoop shoes, expect them to not feel as good as they should at first.

Sometimes it can even last as long as 1-2 weeks – that all boils down to your foot shape and the upper material.

HOWEVER, if you got yourself a shoe, you’ve been constantly playing in it for over 2 weeks and it still feels extremely uncomfortable – this means you’ve either picked an incorrect size or you just plain do not like the shoe’s fit, which also tends to happen because of personal preference of course.

To recap, a shoe CAN and sometimes SHOULD feel tight, but only during the first days, sometimes first 1-2 weeks of play. Once it’s broken in – the fit should normalize and then you can decide if you prefer it.

Now, the last thing we need to cover in terms of the “tight shoe concept” is every single player out there has a different build, foot shape, and personal preferences…

STICK WITH WHAT FEELS RIGHT

No matter the shoe’s constructional intentions, the break-in factor, or anything else, the most important factor to take into account is always your personal preference and what works best for you on the court.

Should Basketball Shoes be Tight: Pair

You must break out of the idea of “very tight means very secure and supportive” and actually listen to your body

Perhaps you’re a medium-weight, versatile player that does just about everything on the court? Well, then you need to get yourself a shoe that accompanies just about any movement securely but also needs to give you enough mobility to move around efficiently.

Guess what? That will not be achieved if the fit is too tight.

Or perhaps you’re a very quick, light, low-profile guard that needs every bit of speed, mobility, and speed he can get?

Well then forget about tank-like shoes and consider getting a soft upper low-top, which will and should not feel rigid or very tight.

Or maybe you’re a tall, heavy center/forward with good leaping ability?

Then it’s time to look for a very supportive shoe with solid lockdown features in place and a very secure fit. This is one of the scenarios where you could aim for a tighter fit, but even then you always need to stick with what’s comfortable as well.

There’s always going to be sacrifices made in order to prioritize the features that will help you the most, accommodating the way you play. The support vs. mobility concept isn’t always this simple, and you must keep that in mind.

Some prefer a more snug fit that feels tighter and more contained, some prefer a looser fit that feels more mobile.

This is all you and your choice to what you think will feel the best – just make sure to not give too much thought into the idea of “a tighter shoe will be more supportive” which isn’t true at all.

Instead, look at what the shoe offers in terms of the technology implemented and what people are reporting. For a supportive shoe, you need to make sure it has a heel counter, a correct, contained fit, ideally an outrigger, a wide, flat base, etc.

These things will make more sense to you as you read basketball shoe reviews.

And also, I highly encourage you to check out my comprehensive basketball shoe buyer’s guide which will surely answer lots of questions and help you properly choose what’s best for you.

BEST SHOES FOR SUPPORT & SECURITY

Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s actually talk about some killer recommendations to play in.

First, we’ll start with the shoes that I personally think work best for players who need as much support, lockdown, and containment as possible.

I. NIKE KYRIE 5 (CLICK FOR A REVIEW)

Great all-around guard’s shoe with killer support features: a TPU heel counter, the Flytrap midfoot strap, a flat heel base, and a very contained fit. The upper is infused with Fuse for extra support& durability.

The total package comes off really nicely, without sacrificing comfort at all.

II. ADIDAS DAME 5 (CLICK FOR A REVIEW)

Should Basketball Shoes be Tight: Dame 5

Another fantastic model that does not break the bank and provides some of the best support a shoe can offer.

We’ve got a heel counter, a wide shoe base, TPU panels throughout the shoe’s upper, and a very secure fit overall. I threw everything I’ve got into these and was never failed in terms of feeling secure & confident at all times.

BEST SHOES FOR MOBILITY

Now, let’s have a look at what I picked to be the best in the business in terms of offering the most freedom, mobility, speed, and comfort, but still providing enough security for a balanced experience.

I. NIKE PG 3 (CLICK FOR A REVIEW)

A solid all-around package, though catered towards guards, players that need a lot of mobility, freedom for their movements.

This one achieves exactly what it says in paper – maximum freedom, minimal sacrifices.

II. ADIDAS CRAZY EXPLOSIVE 2017

Should Basketball Shoes be Tight: Adidas CE 2017

One of my favorite shoes of all time, the CE 2017 still provides top-three EVER level comfort and fit, while also kicking it with superb on-court performance overall.

The delicate Primeknit upper and near-perfectly implemented BOOT cushion provides some of the best experiences your foot can ever have on the court.


I hope you found this guide useful, thanks for staying with me all the way to the end!

Make sure to get educated and check out my in-depth basketball shoe buyer’s guide and cleaning guide!

If you have any questions, feel like sharing your story or just want to have chat,

Leave a comment below and I will get back to you as quick as I can!

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2 thoughts on “Should Basketball Shoes Be TIGHT? Tested & Answered! (2020)

  1. Hi Julius,

    It is a very great article. Thank you for sharing. I was a basketball player at my college. I’m certainly interested in basketball shoes and always want to find out the best shoes form me. I always think that basketball should be tight but I think you break my myth. I think I should try your recommendation especially the NIKE KYRIE 5. Where can I buy it? Can I buy it from Amazon?

    All the best,

    Alex

    1. Glad to you found it useful! Yeah, since it’s mostly out of stock on original retailers, I’d recommend getting ’em from Amazon here.

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