What’s the Best ANKLE BRACE for Basketball? A Player’s Take

I’ve been dealing with ankle sprains of my right ankle for years now which finally encouraged me to break it all down today. What’s the best ankle brace for basketball? Is there such a thing at all? What should you know before considering a brace from a health perspective?

And what about my favorite ankle braces throughout the years that ACTUALLY help?

Truth is, it’s not as simple as slapping one on before every game/session and forgetting you’ve actually got a pair of ankles yourself.

Let’s break it all down.

SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS

What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Intro

I. READ THIS BEFORE CONSIDERING A BRACE!

You MUST be aware of some important points before strapping in


Alright, so before you go running off buying a popular or well-received brace, or spontaneously wear the one you have all day every day – hear me out on some things.

> Don’t care much? Click to jump straight to the best ankle braces

As I’ve said, I believe, and know, that it’s not as simple as slapping one on no matter when, which one, or how often you do it. Or even what your basketball level of experience speaks.

Even you might be looking for the best ankle brace for hooping right now, I highly encourage you to take note of a few important points to remember first. 

HOW AN ANKLE BRACE DOES ITS JOB

The concept is simple. Most ankle braces provide external support for your ankle joint, limiting the joint’s range of motion during plantar flexion (foot pointing downwards) or lateral/medial movements of the ankle bone.

Range of motion is limited to a certain point in order to potentially prevent excessive ankle joint movements that might be a result of an awkward foot plant or too much force for the joint to absorb.

However, good ankle braces don’t just completely restrict the ankle, acting like a sidewall. That would take away from one’s performance on the court and put the ankle to even more danger than it already was.

Still though, it’s not a complete win-win when it comes to feel. Some of the more structured braces can still feel restricting at times while giving your all on the court but it’s something we should accept. Unless all you need is an ankle sleeve that acts as added compression for the joint.

There’s no magical piece of equipment that would provide near-perfect support and not affect the ankle’s freedom of movement in any way.

TAKEAWAY: an ankle brace limits the ankle joint’s ROM to a certain point in order to prevent injury-inducing joint movements. Most structured braces can’t offer 100% comfort and 100% support altogether. There WILL be a slight trade-off

DO NOT BRACE WHEN YOU’RE INJURED

This might be self-explanatory for some but I’ve been an advocate for not following this one in the past and paid the price. NEVER use a brace, or even ankle tape when your ankle is still swollen, you feel pain or there’s any form of deformation in your ankle joint/bone.

Obviously, you’d want to stay away from playing if you’re not at 100% but some guys over at the pro’s don’t always have the luxury to skip a game when it’s win or go home. Luckily, we, the regular people, do, so be sure to not put yourself at risk.

When swelling is completely gone and the ankle’s range of motion doesn’t instigate discomfort anymore, then you can start thinking about added protection.

TAKEAWAY: when after an injury, only use ankle tape or a brace when the swelling is FULLY gone and you’re not feeling discomfort anymore

ANKLE TAPING VS. BRACING

But perhaps some athletic tape is all you need instead? Something to also keep in mind before grabbing the beefiest brace you can find is ankle taping. Both braces and tape serve a purpose and there are plenty of instances where players wear both.

But taping an ankle before putting your socks and shoes on might be all you need if you happen to fall into the category of situations that shouldn’t really require an ankle brace for the job. Athletic tape is made from an elastic material that can stretch but also stay tight and provide support when needed.

It also happens to be very comfortable for the ankle and many players report it’s a nice bonus for having that “secure” feel when playing that also happens to feel good. You won’t get a lot of support with the tape but think of it as a confidence booster/level 0.5 protection if you will.

Scenarios where tape could be levaraged could be the following:

One, if your ankles and feet are completely fine and healthy but you’ve been playing long hours of hoops for several days in a row or even a whole season. Even if you’re made of steel and in your prime 20’s, it’s a smart idea to take care of your joints that receive a lot of stress when playing a sport.

Two, you’ve had an ankle sprain but it wasn’t anything serious and enough time has passed for it to fully heal. Taping up the ankle before a longer game/session can help provide a little bit of structure just in case the ankle is somewhere at 98-99%.

Or three, perhaps you’ve got a tendency to sprain your ankle(s) often and don’t want to wear a brace every single time you go hoop (and I’ll talk about why that’s not advised to do later below).

Think of scenarios similar to these and if you happen to somewhat resemble a similar experience – try out ankle taping first and see how it feels! There will always be time to get a full-on brace.

TAKEAWAYS: sometimes athletic tape can be sufficient. For example, you’re fully healthy but playing long hours, had a small sprain but will be playing soon, or tend to roll an ankle often but don’t want to wear a brace every time

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS ON BRACES: THE GOOD

There’s been a few fairly recent studies on the effectiveness of ankle braces for basketball players, and all the studies that took place on this subject share extremely similar results – all of them leading to a mostly positive conclusion.

A 2017 study of note by the American Journal of Sports Medicine tested 20 female professional basketball players who were split into three groups: those that wore a hinged brace, a lace-up brace, and no brace at all.

All groups constantly performed a movement that would mimic a cut in basketball, which often puts the ankle in extreme angles during a very short amount of time. During such movements, special cameras were used to capture the differences and the results were one-sided.

The use of hinged (more structured) braces significantly reduced peak ankle inversion, meaning the range of motion of the ankle was clearly more effectively reduced when compared to a lace-up brace and the group that didn’t wear any braces.

Players that previously had a history of ankle injuries especially benefited from a brace, as opposed to athletes who never had such problems.

Not only that, but the use of a properly structured brace resulted in greatly reduced ankle AND knee joint forces when the ankle was at maximum dorsiflexion.

Most studies like this one share similar results, with lace-up braces having questionable effectiveness.

Both male and female players experience similar outcomes, so a structured brace evidently helps prevent an excessive range of motion of the ankle and even takes away some of the force of the knee joint when the ankle turns inward.

What does that mean? Simple – using a proper brace decreases the chance of also causing an issue for your knee while your ankle is at a peak inversion angle.

That’s not the end of the story though…

TAKEAWAYS: most studies on ankle bracing suggest mostly positive results: braces effectively limit the ankle’s peak angles and can also take away force off the knee joint when the ankle is at peak dorsiflexion or laterally. Especially effective for those who had a history of ankle issues

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS ON BRACES: THE BAD

You’ve probably seen this one coming but restricting one’s ankle to a limited range of motion potential does have its caveats that you need to know about.

The same 2017 study by Am J Sports Med found out that despite the clear benefits of limiting excessive ankle movements, all types of braces also increased knee internal rotation and knee abduction angles which increases the risk of knee injuries.

An older study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine that took place in 2011 tested high school basketball players and the effects of wearing ankle braces during the season.

While the overall results ring a similar tune, it was confirmed that hard-shell braces do in fact put more stress on the knee joint because the ankle joint’s limited range of motion results in a force transfer in one’s kinetic chain.

So the next joint above the ankle, the knee, absorbed more force than it ideally should. It was also found out that more minimal ankle braces that don’t utilize hard inserts (such as lace-up braces) don’t have such an effect on putting the knee into more danger.

This is why most athletes, coaches, or sports doctors DO NOT encourage players to wear hard-shell, structured ankle braces on a regular basis. Wear it when you need to if you want to avoid issues in the long term.

Sticking to ankle taping, the use of less limiting braces (lace-up, sleeves, etc.) more often than structured braces, and a proper strength & mobility plan (or a quality rehabilitation plan if you’re coming off an injury) for your ankles are the pillars of importance when it comes to a healthy, long-lasting basketball career/hobby.

TAKEAWAYS: frequent use of hard-shell braces can lead to excessive stress on the knee, thus it’s encouraged to only wear such braces when you NEED to. You can safely wear more minimal lace-up/sleeve variants or tape and taking care of your ankles is critical, especially post-injury. Here’s a good place to start if you’re looking for some ankle rehabilitation guidelines.

READY TO STRAP IN? CHECK YOUR SHOES & SOCKS

Now that you know all about the possible effects of an ankle brace for the short-term and long-term, one last thing you need to make sure are proper shoes & socks for the job.

I’d advise against the use of high-top basketball shoes entirely (unless the elevated ankle collar is flexible enough to fit a brace comfortably) and also forget low-cut socks since that’ll be a nightmare for your skin when wearing a brace.

Low-tops and mid-tops will be the best bet to properly fit an ankle brace but even then, some shoes have stiffer collars than others, so choose carefully. For socks, I’d recommend ones that would AT LEAST be over your ankle bone and are generally thicker than your regular everyday pair.

TAKEAWAY: stick to low-tops and mid-tops with less stiff ankle collars to better fit a brace. Avoid low-cut or thin socks when wearing a brace as it can lead to skin irritation. Here’s a list of the best socks for basketball

II. WHAT’S THE BEST ANKLE BRACE FOR BASKETBALL?

Not so fast – different braces are for different scenarios


While it might sound quite obvious, not all ankle braces are made for one single purpose. You have to look at this from an athlete’s point of view and where you’re at in terms of your physical condition, time of the season (if you’re a player), and your history of ankle injuries.

That’s exactly why not all braces feel, cost and look the same. Obvious, right?

Well, let me explain.

NOT ALL BRACES ARE CREATED EQUALLY

Some of the braces out there are very basic and offer a base level of compression, as well as keep your foot comfortable inside the shoe. A lot of the more minimal, sleeve-like braces are just that – they’re just sleeves for your ankle.

Other variants include the use of straps, TPU inserts, or even their own lace-up constructions for better lockdown. We’ll talk about the specifics of different ankle braces a bit later. For now, be aware that you shouldn’t look at them as just this “one” thing that protects an ankle from rolling.

Some of ’em are specifically engineered to provide a comfortable, confidence-boosting feel for your ankles and that might just be enough for a casual hooper who perhaps had a slight sprain a few days ago.

While more structured braces are for added protection in case you’re playing long hours in the park and have a tendency to roll an ankle. Much like I use ’em for.

While some of the beefiest and most advanced braces are particularly made for injury rehabilitation or helping a player push through a critical game even though he/she isn’t 100% healthy at the moment. Something that would mainly be relevant for someone who actually plays seasonal basketball, regardless of their level.

Before getting an ankle brace, ask yourself what you need it for. This will be your first step in choosing the right one for the job.

TAKEAWAY: think about WHY you need an ankle brace first. A confidence booster? Added compression & comfort? Ensuring you’ll stay healthy throughout the season? Have weak ankles that often get sprained?

Now let’s break down the main points to know about getting a good ankle brace that’s tailored to YOU.

III. WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A BRACE

Don’t overcomplicate this one – just a few things to know


There are only a few things to know about the different ankle braces on the market. Do not try to overcomplicate the process of getting one for the job as you’ll end up wanting to pick “THE PERFECT ONE” which likely doesn’t even exist.

Let’s break a couple of the components down when it comes to choosing a brace.

THE TYPE, BASED ON THE LEVEL OF PROTECTION

Ankle braces come in a few different types.

The most common choices are ankle sleeves (compression for your ankle), strap-based braces (sleeve with additional straps for lockdown), lace-up braces (a full lacing system for the brace), and hinged/hard-shell braces (the beefiest braces that use structured inserts for maximum support).

Ankle sleeves are commonly referred to as level 1 protection, while strap-based braces are level 2, lace-up variants (commonly also with straps) are usually level 3 protection and the most hardcore braces that use hard-shell inserts could be referred to as level 4 protection, although that’s rarely used as a term.

USER EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING – FORGET THE REST

The rest about ankle braces are merely just the stuff you CAN know but don’t NEED to know. As long as you know about the protection levels and which one could be the best-fitting for your situation – you’ll be good to go.

Like most sports apparel/equipment, actual user experience is king. The most expensive level 4 brace you can find doesn’t guarantee satisfaction for YOU. Perhaps you’ve got thicker ankle bones or your skin particularly gets irritated by certain materials of that brace.

That’s why reading user feedback on sports stores and finding dedicated reviews of a certain brace is CRITICAL to make an informed purchasing decision.

This is where I come in. Check out the best ankle braces below…

IV. HERE ARE THE BEST ANKLE BRACES

9 ankle braces split into 8 categories. Each brace’s main specifications, why they’re great, and some additional things to remember before buying


I happened to personally try 5 braces out of this list for a good while. I’ve included a few additional ones for better diversity since they’re all extremely well-received.

Let’s break ’em all down!

Ultra Zoom, $58

Best Overall #1


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Ultra Zoom

One of the newer entries to the game by the brand Ultra Ankle, the Ultra Zoom brace is marketed as the ultimate protection without sacrificing mobility as you’d traditionally see on most hard-shell braces.

I happened to play with this one and while I can’t say there are 0 sacrifices in comfort & mobility, I can confidently say it’s a step-up from your regular structured brace that can feel like a cast for your ankle.

This one looks like a tank but don’t get it twisted – it one of the weirdest braces to get used to since I could feel the weight of it but due to strategic cut-outs in between the hinges, I was feeling surprisingly more mobile than I usually would with a more traditional brace.

The manufacturer indicates all you need is a few hours for the materials to mold to your foot and start feeling optimal but in real practice, a few days did that for me. While it can still feel “there” during some movements, this is a stellar choice for those who want the level 3-4 protection without losing a ton of freedom & comfort.

Specifications: level 3-4 protection. Material: performathane soft shell that comforms due to body heat. Weight: 5-6 oz (140-170 g). Height: 7-7.5 inches (17-19 cm)

Pros: super quick & easy to put on and take off; conforms to your bone structure; level 3-4 support while staying mobile

Cons: among the pricier ankle braces; occasional movement inside the top portion of the brace if you’ve got a thinner ankle area

Fitting advice: ideally low-tops or lower-cut mid-tops that utilize a standard lace & tongue construction. Bootie or sleeve-like construction shoes are not recommended

Zamst A2-DX, $65

Best Overall #2


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Zamst A2-DX

Worn all day, every day by Stephen Curry himself, there’s probably a good reason, right? It depends.

This was my go-to choice a couple of years ago – it served me very well during the times where I couldn’t rack up a couple of months without re-aggravating my right ankle.

The Zamst A2-DX is primarily designed for players coming off more serious ankle injuries or seasonal players who have weaker ankles and can’t afford to get hurt. The brace takes advantage of straps at the back, heel, ankle bone, and also two additional straps that cross over and come over the top portion of the bone.

It’s definitely among the more comfortable options even at this level of protection since there’s minimal plastic used for structure, and I didn’t feel its weight affecting my movements.

However, this is not the best option for lower ankle sprains since the focus is all about the more serious grade 3-4 ankle sprains that usually happen at the top portion of the ankle.

Specifications: level 3 protection. Materials: nylon, polyster & elastane. The sidewall pieces are synthetic leather. Anti-bacterial properties

Pros: excellent for demanding seasonal basketball & coming back from a more serious sprain; Retained comfort despite the structure

Cons: expensive brace; there are better options for lesser lower ankle sprains; the plastic edges of the brace tarnish low-top shoe ankle collars

Fitting advice: opt for mid-tops or high-tops with a roomier collar; avoid bootie/sleeve collars

Bodyprox Ankle Brace, $12

Best Cheap Ankle Brace


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Bodyprox Ankle Brace

The most affordable option is the Bodyprox ankle brace. A simple two-strap construction with an open heel design.

This is level 2 protection at most – don’t expect this one to cradle you in like a Zamst A2-DX or an Ultra Zoom would.

This one will be best for light protection: maybe you’re playing long hours and want to have some protection just in case.

Or perhaps you’re coming off a small sprain that’s now fully healed but you’d like to have some reassurance while staying comfortable.

The open heel doesn’t really do anything to improve mobility though, so don’t get too caught up on what the manufacturer indicates.

Based on the general user reception, this brace can start a little tight and the straps loosen up rather quickly for some, so a few readjustments will likely be needed for some people during a session.

Specifications: level 2 protection via straps. Materials: neoprene base & velcro straps. Weight: ~5 oz (~140 g.)

Pros: very affordable even for level 2 protection; super quick to put on & take off; minimal-to-none movement restriction; one size fits all

Cons: velcro straps offer questionable quality and might start tearing fairly quickly; straps got loose fast for some users

Fitting advice: ideally low-tops, though most other shoes should be fine as long as they don’t have a particularly stiff ankle collar

McDavid Ankle Sleeve, $18

Best Ankle Sleeve


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: McDavid Ankle Sleeve

For some added compression, improved blood flow for the ankle, and an added sense of comfort & security – the McDavid Ankle Sleeve is a choice you can’t go wrong with.

This pretty much has been my only choice when it comes to a level 1 ankle sleeve and while it’s technically kind of tough to make a “bad” ankle sleeve since they all serve the same simple purpose, this McDavid one, in particular, feels very nice to the skin.

It also doesn’t introduce any issues like pinching or restricted movement patterns due to poor stitch work or non-optimal material choices.

However, some of the seams at the top portion could be felt at times. Not a dealbreaker since it’s not a plastic plate digging into my skin but not ideal craftsmanship nonetheless.

But for its sole purpose – the sleeve is great. Nice and tight feel (but not overly tight), the soft-to-the-touch neoprene is lightweight and minimal and moves well with the foot.

Some of the best compression in the market as well, if we’re just talking sleeves.

Specifications: for compression & comfort purposes. Material: 4-way stretch latex-free neoprene & exterior layer of nylon. Thickness: 0.125 inches (0.32 cm).

Pros: excellent compression & comfy feel; putting it on & taking it off takes seconds; durable neoprene material

Cons: some of the stitch work can be felt on the foot at times

Fitting advice: most shoes, regardless of the design, should fit with this one

McDavid 432 Ankle Support, $25

Best Level 1 Protection (Straps)


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: McDavid 432 Ankle Support If you’re looking for a small step-up in protection from a simple sleeve, the McDavid 432 should take care of your ankles pretty well. Think of it as a McDavid sleeve + a strap for added lockdown. The brace features a figure-8 strap system that wraps around the ankle bone in a 360-degree fashion.

While I’ve never personally tried this one myself, the people seem to like it a lot for what it is. For light protection, added compression, and a little bit of restriction for the ankle joint, it does its job well.

You won’t get top-grade support from this one but it’s not what it’s made for anyway. The McDavid 432 could be excellent for post-injury players who are playing a few times per week.

Even for someone who’s got an explosive playstyle and wants to reassure himself/herself with a bit of protection while keeping the ankle joint fully healthy, as the use of a hard-shell brace is avoided.

One thing I’ve noticed that recurred for different users is the sizing is on the small side. Your ankle might be feeling overly tight if you go true to size, even based on the sizing chart by McDavid.

Trying this one in-store will be best, or going up a size if you can’t try this one live.

Specifications: level 1 protection with a figure-8 strap design. Materials: latex-free neoprene & exterior layer of nylon

Pros: easy to use & machine washable; lightweight protection without comfort issues; durable construction

Cons: wide footers or people with thicker feet could feel overly tight at first, even going up a size; some of the stitch work could be felt at times

Fitting advice: most shoes should be a-okay with this one, but ideally avoid one-bootie shoes or stiff ankle collars

MedSpec ASO Ankle Stabilizer, $45

Best Level 2 Protection (Lace-up & Strap)


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: MedSpec ASO Ankle Stabilizer

One of the most trusted ankle braces for balanced protection along with staying mobile. The ASO Ankle Stabilizer by MedSpace shares a very similar overall feel to the Zamst A2-DX, minus the sidewalls of the Zamst brace.

The lacing system is great for a custom fit but it’s really easy to suffocate your foot with this one. Don’t go too overboard as pulling the laces down already cradles the foot well. Add the straps on top and you’re possibly introducing foot numbing or tightness.

However, after properly setting up the laces for my feet and giving it some time for the straps and stiffer areas to break in, the end result was very nice.

Opposite to the Zamst A2-DX, this one will be good for both low and high ankle sprains since you can freely customize the fit thanks to the lace-up build. Pushing the heel back into the brace and pulling down on the laces creates a very secure and pleasant sensation.

Sure, a few occasional movements felt tighter than others and I could sometimes feel the weight of it while slowly jogging or cutting but not by a margin that would noticeably affect my session.

Specifications: level 2 protection with a figure-8 strap design & lacing system. The top elastic cuff reinforces the straps and ensures long-term lockdown. Material: ballistic nylon

Pros: comfortable fit with superb lockdown; extremely customizable due to the lacing system; despite the straps & laces, the build is minimal and fits most shoes

Cons: can take a while to find your preferred fit; on the pricier side

Fitting advice: low-tops and mid-tops are recommended, though it should fit most shoes just fine

Ultra CTS, $140

Best Level 3 Protection (Shell Core & Hinges)


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Ultra CTSThis one’s not going to be for everyone but if you’re looking for the absolute maximum protection or rehabilitating from a serious injury with the next season just around the corner – Ultra Ankle’s Ultra CTS could be a life saver.

This brace is modular – you can take off the PerformaFit upper portion for a lower profile design during a session if you don’t require the extra stability.

Just like the Ultra Zoom brace, this one could take a few days to fully break in. The hinges will adjust to your bone structure over time, so will the shell since it’s molded thanks to your body’s heat.

You’ll definitely feel a little bit of weight for this one at first.

Some users also report that the lower hinge can sometimes result in numbness of the calf since it gets pressed tightly against the brace during some movements. Not a guarantee it’ll happen for you since everyone’s structure is different.

Don’t look at this one as another hard-shell brace. There’s no need to get it if you’re a casual hooper who’s had a slight sprain for the first time in 3 years.

It’s an excellent stabilizer for demanding seasonal basketball, severe ankle sprains, and rehabilitation though.

 

Specifications: level 3 protection w/ hinges & soft-shell core. Materials: Performathane soft shell. Weight: 8.4-10.6 oz (238-300 g). Height: 9.75-10.75 inches (25-27 cm)

Pros: unrivaled protection & stability for the most demanding situations/injuries; modular design based on your needs; conforms to the foot very well; durable construction

Cons: a pricy feat; can get uncomfortable during the break-in/adjusting phase; some users report on calf numbing on certain movements

Fitting advice: low-tops or lower-cut mid-tops with a standard lace & tongue construction. Avoid one-bootie shoes and stiff ankle collars

V. MY PERSONAL FAVORITE BRACES

adidas adiZero Speedwrap, $30

CHECK ON AMAZON


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: adidas adiZero SpeedwrapWhile there are much beefier, newer, and improved braces today when compared to the dated adiZero Speedwrap – I can’t seem to shake it since I’m so used to it by now. I definitely wore it the longest when compared to any other brace in the list.

The adidas adiZero Speedwrap will yield you somewhere around level 2 protection and if that’s enough for you – I wholeheartedly recommend this brace despite its age. I simply cannot find a brace that’s comfier for me than this one. No matter the session, I still find myself returning to this one the most often.

This brace is mainly aimed towards lateral protection which is where most of our light/moderate ankle sprains come from. It’s very lightweight, has built-in friction zones that do a fine job of keeping my foot in place and one side utilizes a TPU plate to add some stability and catch excessive ankle motions laterally.

The strap which goes around your ankle adds a bit of lockdown but nothing too serious when compared to a beefier ASO brace or a Zamst A2-DX.

It’s super easy to put on, it stretches to your foot’s shape over time and despite me owning a pair of these for 3+ years now – they’re still working just fine.

A solid all-around option for those that would like some reassurance no matter your situation or history of injuries, or even for pushing through a season if you’re not on a grade 2+ sprain (that would be dangerous).

Specifications: level 2 protection w/ a strap & lateral TPU plate. Materials: flexible odor-resistant & moisture-wicking fabric. Screen print finish medially and a TPU (lightweight plastic) plate laterally.

Pros: super comfortable & seamless fit; takes seconds to put on & take off; a solid all-around choice for moderate protection no matter your situation

Cons: besides lateral support, the rest of the movements aren’t protected

Fitting advice: most low-tops and mid-tops will fit just fine. Ideally, opt for a standard lace & tongue construction when choosing shoes

Ultra Zoom, $58

CHECK ON AMAZON


What's the Best Ankle Brace for Basketball: Ultra Zoom (2)The new kid in town definitely impressed me. So the first AND the last one on the list is none other than the Ultra Zoom by Ultra Ankle. For days when theres’ a need for additional protection – this one’s a charm.

Sporting a hinge design with a soft shell core that adjusts and molds to your foot over time, the end result is one that not a lot might expect. Despite the brace’s weight and beefy appearance, it actually feels fairly light and mobile on the court.

Besides some occasional movement at the top portion of the brace, there’s really nothing wrong with this one. No pinching, no digging into my shins or any bones, no overly restricting components that hinder my game.

Strapping up is nice and fast and the level of support you get for such a small trade-off in comfort is pretty impressive.

Just be ready to potentially feel some discomfort while you’re still adjusting to the brace and while the materials are conforming to your bone structure. Once this process is done and you find the sweet spot for each hinge that feels nice and secure, you’ll appreciate the Ultra Zoom’s versatile approach not many even attempt to take.

Specifications: level 3-4 protection. Material: performathane soft shell that conforms due to body heat. Weight: 5-6 oz (140-170 g). Height: 7-7.5 inches (17-19 cm)

Pros: super quick & easy to put on and take off; conforms to your bone structure; level 3-4 support while staying mobile

Cons: among the pricier ankle braces; occasional movement inside the top portion of the brace if you’ve got a thinner ankle area

Fitting advice: ideally low-tops or lower-cut mid-tops that utilize a standard lace & tongue construction. Bootie or sleeve-like construction shoes are not recommended

VI. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE SHOES!

An ankle brace is a tool. A good shoe is your FOUNDATION


No matter how good of a job your brace does for you, there’s no denying your ultimate foundation is the shoes. When it comes to support, proper containment, stability, and playing securely – you MUST have a quality pair of kicks before you think about a brace.

Sure, sometimes a quality ankle brace can somewhat compensate for the lack of stability/support your current pair of kicks provides but ideally, that’s not a scenario you should be aiming for.

Proper ankle support and lockdown come from a basketball shoe, first and foremost.

Built-in heel counters lock your heel & ankle in, a good structured upper makes sure your foot isn’t going out of the footbed, and a wide platform takes care of stability.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

If you don’t currently feel 100% confident in your hoop shoes security-wise or found yourself desiring a bit more than you’ve got right now, I HIGHLY suggest investing a quality pair BEFORE you slap on an ankle brace any day of the week.

This will save you hassle, money and ultimately lead to a safer, more efficient game.

I’ve got a guide breaking down all there is to know about supportive basketball shoes: what makes up the security system of a shoe, what you should pay attention to when choosing a pair, and my regularly updated list of the most supportive basketball shoes of the today’s era.

Some of the more notable options that are versatile and should provide a secure, comfortable experience for MOST people: the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1, Nike Zoom Rize, Jordan 34 & 35, and the Li-Ning Way Of Wade 8.

Check out the full guide & shoe list below and build your FOUNDATION.

SHOW ME ALL YOUR: SHOE REVIEWS | SHOE LISTS | SHOE GUIDES


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

That’s a wrap for the ankle brace guide! I’ve put my heart and soul into it and truly you’ve found some of the stuff here valuable.

In case you’re somewhat of a basketball shoe/equipment connoisseur yourself and think I’ve missed some important things to know – let me know in the comments below! I’m always hyped to hear your thoughts on anything basketball-related, so don’t be hesitant to drop your thoughts and start a conversation!

I reply within the same day, almost without exceptions 😉

Talk to you soon!

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4 thoughts on “What’s the Best ANKLE BRACE for Basketball? A Player’s Take

  1. Thank you for the very interesting article. Im playing basketball for years and when getting older unfortunately I started to have problems with my ankles. I especially like Ultra zoom product. Not only it protects the ankle but it looks really cool to me and the price is reasonable. Looking forward to test it in practice.

    1. If you can afford the Ultra Zoom brace – I say go for it! Definitely a step in the right direction in my book. I’d still recommend wearing it only when you need it though.

      Post-injury, during a long & intense session, are the best times to slap it on. Throw it in your gym bag at any time – if you suffer a sprain or even a slight roll, put it on, and it’ll help you get through a session!

  2. I actually remember owning a cheap brace a couple of years back in high school but I still used to get ankle issues, mild sprains. When choosing the right brace I would recommend the Ultra zoom that’s if you can afford it because it would save you from getting sprains before kick off. I should show your article to my little bro, he’s into basketball, am sure he would love it. Does ankle tapping feel comfortable though during a game never really tried it?

    1. Yep, the Ultra Zoom is a good choice for a demanding situation. There can never be a 100% guarantee you’ll prevent any sprains from happening but you’ll reduce such risks for sure. Just make sure not to get used to wearing it regularly as that can negatively impact your kinetic chain and ultimately, the knees and other joints.

      As for ankle taping, yeah it’s definitely comfortable if you wrap it up correctly. Check out the video I’ve posted in the article it should teach you how!

      It’s not that it adds “comfort” but I always get that secure feeling as my ankle’s nice and stable, and I know it’s taped up so it’s mostly a confidence thing other than anything else. Though it’s proven that it CAN help treat and protect from mild sprains, it’s mostly a reassurance thing.

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