Welcome to the official breakdown of each and every basketball shoe review that I post on Shoes For Hire!
Now, I know a lot of you are already familiar with the relatively standard format that many hoop shoe reviewers somewhat share the idea of.
But for those who are perhaps new to the performance basketball sneaker game or you would simply appreciate a detailed explanation of what a review consists of and why – this is the guide for you!
Let me get a few things out of the way before we get into it…
A QUICK NOTE BEFORE THE BREAKDOWN
If you’ve seen a shoe review or two before online, chances are you’ll feel right at home here. However, since I still do it my way, so there are some personal touches I applied to make each review as informative, relevant, and helpful as possible
Another important thing I should mention is that I never post a review of a shoe I haven’t played in and even more importantly, haven’t profoundly tested on various courts/conditions for an extensive period of time.
This is usually 1-3 months depending on the shoe and personal circumstances of course. I believe that anything less than that will result in an inaccurate opinion that could’ve been altered throughout the course of playtime.
Not saying that you shouldn’t trust a guy who plays in a shoe for a couple of weeks – he would still be able to tell you some stuff that’s valuable and relevant.
But you have to take into account that some things in a shoe can only be truly evaluated when it stands the test of time. You’ll find out why in the breakdown later.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the breakdown of my review structure.
Each review is divided into 6 parts, with a generalized specification sheet that comes before that and a summary of my ratings at the very end.
So, 8 key parts in total that make up the full review of a shoe. I’ll cover each and every part in more detail below.
A quick summary of need-to-know information about the shoe
Model: Nike LeBron XVI
Weight: 17.2 oz / 488 g. (size 10)
Retail Price: $185
Cushion: Full-length Max Air & Zoom Air units
Best Offer On: Amazon | Nike
As you can see, I firstly break down the main components of the shoe to give a basic idea of what this shoe is all about.
I detail its build type (low-top, mid-top, or high-top), its weight coming in at size 10 US (my size), the retail price, the cushion setup used, and also let you know the current best places to get the shoe online if you require.
In most cases, this information isn’t necessarily vital to evaluate the shoe’s performance but it’s still good to know.
Certain factors such as the shoe’s weight, whether it’s a higher or a lower cut shoe, or the technology used for cushioning can give the user an idea if he/she’ll like this type of model, and sometimes can even be a make or break factor.
A quick sizing guide, evaluation of how the shoe fits & how comfortable it is
It all starts with how the shoe fits. I always say, if a shoe’s not comfortable, and you never reach a point where your kicks are one-to-one with your feet, it’ll most likely be a flop.
You can have all the performance and expensive tech packed inside but if a shoe’s fit is merely a distraction from your game – no amount of tech will make up for it.
So first off, I talk about the sizing of the shoe – whether you should go with your regular size or perhaps the shoe’s sizing is off and you’ll need to go up/down half a size, for example.
This is very important as it’ll take the guessing game out of the equation. Once we nail that down, we usually move on to how the shoe generally fits and how comfortable it is to play in.
I strongly believe that the fit component along with getting the size right is the foundation pillar of the whole sneaker.
I also touch on the shoe’s break-in period and how long it took for the shoe to adjust to my feet in order to achieve an optimal fit.
DO NOT skip this section, one can argue it is the most important of the whole review!
Evaluating the shoe’s ability to grip the surface, the consistency of doing so & inspecting durability
Next, we move on to the traction. It’s pretty self-explanatory – how well the shoe grips the floor, accomodating your cuts, drives, stops, changes of direction, etc.
A good basketball shoe needs to strongly grip and bite to the floor consistently, as otherwise, you’ll start feeling insecure before making a move. Something you definitely don’t want.
I’m usually able to test the shoe on multiple courts and conditions, which will help achieve an informative take on its traction.
Dusty courts, clean courts, hardwood, blacktop, outdoor concrete, etc. I believe all conditions have to be tested to truly evaluate how the shoe’s outsole performs.
Chances are you’ll only be playing on 1-2 types of courts but different people have different levels of access to gyms or parks, so I do my best to cover as much ground as I can (pun intended).
I also touch on the durability of the outsole. The more durable the outsole’s rubber is and the better its traction pattern is, the longer it’ll last.
This is especially critical for outdoor play, as most shoes nowadays aren’t made for outdoor courts. I know a lot of you guys are playing outside, myself included, so giving a shoe a run for its money outdoors is important!
Breaking down the shoe’s cushioning setup: the impact protection offered, energy return upon impact, stability, step comfort & ride height
Moving on to the cushion – I evaluate how good the shoe’s midsole performs. A good cushion setup provides impact protection and spring back to your movements which greatly impacts how you jump, land, cut, and generally absorb impact.
There are many different types of cushion setups made for different types of players, so there’s no real “best” setup out there – preference is everything, so I do my best to cover this section from a subjective standpoint.
However, the key elements that are evaluated are impact protection, the amount of energy return after contact with the ground, responsiveness, the amount of court feel preserved, the stability of the cushion, and the overall feel.
Evaluating the shoe’s security: all-around support, foot lockdown & containment
Another critical component a basketball shoe should provide is adequate support & stability.
Once again, how much support vs. how much mobility and freedom you like will play a role in choosing a shoe but all shoes should at least cover the essential areas a basketball player needs for quality support.
Good heel & ankle lockdown, torsional support, lateral coverage, general foot stability, and containment are the main areas that provide support and I examine those on each and every shoe I test.
V. BUILD & MATERIALS
Inspecting the shoe’s general build quality, durability & breaking down the upper materials used
After we break down the performance of the shoe, we talk about its overall build quality, value for the price you’re getting, and the materials of the shoe.
This is yet another very important category as there are many instances where a $100 shoe can outlast and outperform a $180 shoe. Not blindly relying on the price and/or the fancy names of materials brands are using to hype up the shoe is critical to properly assess the quality of a shoe.
So I’ll talk about the materials the shoe uses (its pro’s and con’s), how long I think it might last, and just how much value the model provides when compared to similar price tags of different shoes.
Rounding up the review: summarization of all the aspects
Lastly, I sum up the whole review and provide the main takeaways. I decide if it’s worth getting in general, sum up the main things I loved the most, and the drawbacks (if there were any). I also try my best to evaluate who the shoe is best for.
There are many versatile shoes out there but a lot of models are also made with specific playstyles/player builds in mind, so I uncover this and break it down for you.
A rundown of my personal ratings on the shoe’s fit & comfort, performance, value for the price, suitability for outdoors, and versatility.
Comfort Rating: 9
Performance Rating: 9.5
Value for the Price Rating: 8
Suitable for Outdoors: Yes
Recommended for: All players | explosive/athletic playstyles
Overall Rating: 9
As you can see, I give my personal ratings in various departments of the shoe. I also give out the specific recommendations for players that will love the shoe the most along with an overall rating, so you can compare it to other shoes.
And that’s it! That’s the whole review broken down. I hope this helped you out if you were looking for an explanation!
As always, I’ll be waiting for your comments down below if you have any questions about this!
And in the meantime, head over to my shoe reviews section and explore what you like!