Low Top vs. High Top Basketball Shoes

When it comes down to games like basketball, the choice of shoes gets pretty hard. Shoes not only keep you safe from injuries, but they also help you play your very best form.

As you know, there are plenty of shoes out there in the market, and it’s quite difficult to choose. Players prefer shoes according to their gaming style and skills.

So if you are looking forward to learning about these shoes and how they affect one’s game, keep reading to find out!

What Are Low-Top Basketball Shoes?

A low-top shoe is a typical sports shoe that does not surpass the level of the ankle of the wearer. These are pretty lightweight but may lack adequate support.

If you are the wingman of your team, you might be a master of cutting others, and low-top shoes would be the best for you and will support you in your craft. A lightweight shoe gives you the ability to run or cut fast without compromising performance.

Quick Reaction

Low tops are very lightweight and boost your reflexes as the lightweight shoe reacts perfectly with the asphalt. Low tops let you enjoy incredibly fast movement and better jumps, as it does not hold you back compared to high tops.

Quick Performance

Besides mobility, you can expect a performance boost with these shoes. You’ll gain better speed, but it may keep you from playing to your strengths.

For a game like a basketball, speed is very important. Staying steps ahead of a defender can help score a basket on the other end of the court.

More Playtime

It does not matter how strong and fit you are, tiredness and fatigue will sink in as you advance throughout the game. But if you wish to play for a longer time, then a low top would help you do it easily. The less weight you carry, the more you get to save your energy.

As a result, using a low-top shoe will help get that extra charge or burst of energy during the crucial point of the game.

Low top shoe examples

What Are High Top Basketball Shoes?

The high-top shoe is a type of athletic shoe that goes slightly over the ankle level of the wearer. These shoes are specifically designed for basketball and are known for support and stability.

High tops are much stronger than low tops but feel much heavier on your feet. These shoes are specifically designed for the frontline players of a basketball team. Unlike wing players, the forward players need to still rely on speed but also depend on stability and power.

Advanced Protection

Players gravitate toward the high-top shoes with the focus on protection. The high tops come with better cushioning that safeguards your ankle from injury. They also feature added material that goes up your ankle, giving an extra measure of protection against sprains and potential breaks.

More Stability

 Another feature that makes high tops best for forward players is that the laces go much higher up the shoe. This is part of what gives you more stability compared to low tops.

And They’re Strong, Wide and Feel Tough

The high top is not just a shoe type that provides stability, its extra cushions save your feet from unwanted blisters.

These shoes can be much wider than low-top shoes, providing proper room for your feet. So if you’re someone who often ends up with blisters and all after a game, then these shoes are for you. As you know, a tiny blister can take you right out of your game.

And of course, they can last much longer than low-top shoes due to their fine build.

The Air Jordan Retro 11 is a popular high top shoe

Low Top Vs. High Top, How Do They Compare?

If you want to know how the low tops and high tops differ from each other, here’s the differences between the shoe types…

1. High Tops vs Low Tops: Ankle Movement

According to a recent study, when subjects were tested on an inverted platform, they found no difference in the performance between high and low tops.

However when tested on a relatively flat platform which induced a sudden inversion, it was discovered that there are significant ankle inversion differences between these two types of shoes.

The low tops provide a higher degree of ankle inversion compared to the high tops. High tops provide a player with an ankle inversion of 38.1 degrees, while low tops provide a greater ankle inversion of 42.6 degrees. That’s why low tops help the player move freely and better perform moves like crossovers and off-ball cutting.

Players wearing low tops enjoy a slight edge in freedom when it comes to movement. In terms of flexion, it was also found that players with low tops enjoy a significantly greater range of motion at 32.2 degrees compared to high tops with 27 degrees.

However, the very minimal angle between feet and ground is relatively smaller for low tops with 77.0 degrees than for high tops with 85.1 degrees.

2. High Tops vs Low Tops: Muscle Activation

Like those ankle movements, the collar height can sink in depending on certain conditions, thus triggering your leg muscles during ankle inversions.

Several studies point out that the pre-activation of muscles has greater intensity when wearing low-top basketball shoes or sneakers.

Again the onset time — or in other words — the time from when the inversion initiates to the time your body reacts to it, this onset time was found to be relatively lower in the case of low-top sports shoes.

These studies propose that the high-top shoes need minimal muscular effort and the body’s proprioceptive response during the landing. No wonder why the big guys in the NBA prefer to perform in high tops. Furthermore, they have to deal with all that bounce-back effect.

3. High Tops vs Low Tops: Ankle Sprain

Do you know why high top basketball shoes were considered the dominant shoe for such a long time; well this was just because of their strong build and better cushioning, which ultimately results in improving one’s safety against injuries and support.

When your ankle ligament gets stretched out more than it’s useful range, you may experience an ankle sprain. In games like basketball, ankle sprains occur when landing after taking a shot, whether a jump shot or a layup, a dunk shot, or after grabbing a rebound. You may experience such things when you land over an uneven surface, with a combination of ankle inversion and flexion.

Inversion is known as the rotation of the ankle towards the middle, while eversion is known as the rotation of the ankle to the side. Inversion and eversion occur during lateral movements such as crossover dribble, cut-off, etc. Sadly even in the pros, an ankle sprain can mean missing a week of games and having to do reduce practice. So anything that can be done to help reinforce the ankle while playing at that superstar level, it’s greatly welcomed.

Do any NBA Players Wear Low Tops…

Many players in the NBA play their game wearing low-top basketball shoes. Great players like Steph Curry and James Harden use low-top shoes.

They use these sorts of shoes because the low-top shoes can maximize ankle movement resulting in greater agility.

Professionals say that low tops allow an ankle inversion of rough degrees, which is pretty high than the high ankle or high shoes. Hence, low-top shoes are the best for players to meet sudden movement changes.

Do Most NBA Players Wear High Tops…

Some players invest in low tops, and some gravitate towards high-top shoes. Half the NBA players appear to use high tops, while the other half use low tops.

Famous players like Paul George, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, etc. are the players that have been using high-top basketball shoes in their games!

Why would a player feel the need to use a high-top shoe? In a game like a basketball, foot and ankle injuries are the most common forms of injuries and are very critical at the same time. A minor injury can take away your game and keep you from playing for a week.

To reduce the chances of such injuries during a game, players use high tops to provide better support and stability and to increase one’s overall safety.


What do you think… which one would be the best for you when you play the game?

At the end of the day, the shoe you pick should be according to your preference. Low tops provide you with freedom to move faster, while on the other hand, high tops help big guys get better stability while safeguarding their feet from blisters and other forms of injuries.

I’ll go with the low tops if you ask me because I am more of a performance speed-driven player! Just because low tops suit me does not mean it will work out right for you as well. So while you have time, give both a try! Both of these shoes look and feel different, and unless you try them out, you’ll not be able to make a proper call.

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