Insoles are one of the most overlooked features of a shoe. People might take into consideration the quality of a shoe’s midsole, outsole, and upper, but we rarely stop to consider the quality of the insole of a shoe. And the fact is that insoles are an important part of a shoe’s construction, especially when we are talking about basketball shoes.
Basketball is a sport that involves a lot of explosive movements which require a lot of torque and cause a lot of impact on your joints. So your footwear has to be able to keep up with all of this stress, keep your legs as fresh as possible, and help avoid injuries. This of course begs the question: which are the best insoles for basketball?
The truth is that while brands like Nike, adidas, and New Balance are great footwear manufacturers, they’re not great insole makers. There are companies out there dedicated exclusively to that craft and they make much better insoles in general, and much better insoles for basketball.
Last updated 03.22.2021
Best Insoles for Basketball
- What makes a good insole?
- Custom vs Over-the-Counter Orthotics
- Best Insoles for Basketball Overall
- Basketball Shoes with the Best Insoles
- Retro Basketball Shoes with the Best Insoles
- Best Basketball Shoes with Drop-in Midsoles
What makes a good insole?
So why are insoles important? First off, you have to consider the cushioning an insole for basketball provides. The cushion provided by your insole should immediately be noticeable as soon as you slip on the shoe. Now, a lot of insoles bottom out (lose their cushion) after a few hours of play. A good insole for basketball will not only boost your shoe’s cushion but keep boosting the cushion until you burn a hole in the sole of the shoe.
Another feature a good insole for basketball will have is some sort of extra support. Not all basketball shoes are created equal, obviously, and torsional support is a weak point in many models. Even if a shoe has good torsional support, a good insole should help your running and jumping mechanics, making you more efficient on the court, helping prevent injury while simultaneously giving you a slight performance edge.
Custom vs Over-the-Counter Orthotics
If price is no issue, custom orthotics should always provide slightly better performance than over-the-counter models, because they are built to your exact specifications. Now, custom orthotics usually will cost between $200 and $800, which, for a lot of us, is a hefty price tag.
Over-the-counter orthotics, on the other hand, will usually be more reasonably priced but can be more hit-or-miss. Aside from the insole’s actual performance features, you have to consider how they will fit within your shoe. Many over-the-counter insoles are sold as “one size fits all” and require that the user cut them to the size and shape of their footwear, which is a hassle and can easily go awry. Over-the-counter insoles for basketball shouldn’t break the bank and should be easy to set up in your shoes.
With that in mind, we at WearTesters have been on the hunt for the best insoles for basketball. Ideally, these insoles are easily purchasable at retail, give you all of the performance features you need and don’t cause any extra hassle. Check out our list:
Best Insoles for Basketball Overall
You might not be familiar with Move Insoles as they’re one of the newer insole brands to hit the market, but they’re the best insoles for basketball. Move provides two options: Game Day and Game Day Pro.
The Game Day is the right option for most people who aren’t high-level athletes. The sturdy EVA torsion plate provides arch support and the Shockfree foam provides step-in comfort. The GameDay Pro is for high-level athletes and those who need more support. The torsion plate is nylon and is just as rigid as carbon fiber. It features the brand’s top-of-the-line Polsion Energyfoam, which lasts longer but is denser. Both are excellent options.
Spenco Rx Comfort
The Spenco Rx Comfort is the simplest, low-profile aftermarket insole available. Its friction-reducing top layer is a considerable benefit. In addition, the foam base lasts a lot longer than a stock insole. The Rx Comfort is the right choice if you’re looking to replace stock insoles with something inexpensive yet more durable and comfortable. True, there’s no extra support or cushion, but that’s ok if you don’t need it. For those who get blisters on the bottoms of their feet or toes, the Rx Comfort is a lifesaver. Price: $15
Sof Sole Airr
The Sof Sole Airr insoles are ready with no cutting required for most shoes. The Airr name comes from an air pocket that runs into the medial arch from the heel. The air pocket mimics Nike Zoom Air units but feels softer underfoot. While the impact protection is solid, they lose some bounce and responsiveness. The forefoot has a polymer gel pad that adds a little bit of impact protection. The Airr provides some torsional support, as it’s relatively stiff through the arch. The biggest drawback is that these insoles are fairly thick: my heel was close to slipping above the heel counter in some shoes. The high stack isn’t a huge problem, but it’s something to consider. Overall, the Sof Sole Airr adds extra impact protection to your sneakers at a relatively wallet-friendly price point. Price: $35
Basketball Shoes with the Best Insoles
Although most insoles included with basketball shoes aren’t great, there are some exceptions. Some shoes out there seem to get better treatment from the brand than others. The shoes featured here have great insoles compared to other models. Still, they could always benefit from the added features from one of the insoles mentioned above. Here are our picks for the basketball shoes with the best insoles for basketball.
Nike KD 14
The Nike KD 14 is not only one of the best basketball shoes available today, but they also have one of the best insoles. It is made up of a styrofoam feeling material, which sounds cheap, but what it does is mold to your feet the more you wear them. This will give you a custom-like fit and feel that will better help you enjoy that soft Cushlon and springy Zoom Air. See the full review. Price: $150
Air Jordan 36
The Air Jordan 36 is on a lot of our lists, including the Most Comfortable Basketball Shoes, and that’s in part because of the insole. The insole is similar to the one in the Nike KD 14, where it molds to your feet. However, unlike the Kevin Durant signature model, it doesn’t have the cored-out section for the Zoom Air strobel. It does feature perforations so it’s slightly more breathable. See the full review. Price: $185
Nike Kobe 6 Protro
The Nike Kobe 6 Protro features the first generation of insoles from the Air Jordan 36 and Nike KD 14. It doesn’t look as clean as the other two and they’re not that comfortable right off the bat, but they will mold to your feet. It takes a bit more break-in time, but once you’re through with that, you’ll feel like the shoe was made for you. If you’re a fan of the Black Mamba himself, these should easily be on your radar. See the full review. Price: Varies
Retro Basketball Shoes with the Best Insoles
Air Jordan 1 High 85
The Air Jordan 1 High 85 is the closest thing we have in the 21st century to the original 1985 Air Jordan 1 releases. And part of that is the almost-original insoles. The insoles are made up of a thick polyurethane that not only makes the shoe much more comfortable but also lasts much longer than typical Ortholite or cheap foam inserts. It’s crazy to realize, as far as insoles are concerned, we’ve taken a step back over the years. A taste of the past isn’t so bad after all. See the full review. Price: $200
Best Basketball Shoes with Drop-in Midsoles
Drop-in midsoles are still quite the revolutionary technology even to this day, although it debuted nearly a decade ago. These shoes don’t have insoles per se. Their midsoles and insoles are combined. You can stick with the midsole you got with the sneaker or you can mix and match for a different experience using the same shell. When you remove the drop-in midsoles, all you get is a hollow shoe that isn’t wearable. They’re very polarizing. Some people love them while others stay away. These are the best basketball shoes with drop-in midsoles.
Nike Air Zoom GT Cut
The Nike Air Zoom GT Cut is part of Nike’s Greater Than project. The project started off with a bang featuring a shoe with a drop-in midsole. The insert itself is full-length React, the brand’s best foam today. That doesn’t sound so great, but that’s because we haven’t mentioned that there’s a full-length Zoom Air strobel unit underneath the midsole. The bottom of the drop-in midsole is cored out to accommodate this feature. If you prefer a low-to-the-ground cushion setup and yet still want to feel comfortable, this shoe is the right choice. See the full review. Price: $170
Nike Kobe 9
The Nike Kobe 9 is one of the greatest performance models of all time. The Kobe 9 inherited the drop-in midsole set-up from the Kobe 8 and features full-length Lunarlon foam as the midsole’s cushion. The Kobe 9 complemented the excellent cushion from the drop-in with some of the greatest traction ever on a basketball shoe, a supportive yet mobile fit, and good support for lateral movements. All of these features came together to make an exceptional basketball shoe. See the full review. Price: $140
Nike LeBron 11
The Nike LeBron 11 has one of the most explosive drop-in midsole setups we’ve ever seen. The foam was Lunarlon, which was soft, bouncy, and comfortable. Cored out on the underside of the midsole is a full-length Zoom Air unit. It was too much cushion for some, but nobody denies the comfort level. If impact protection is what you’re looking for, it’s hard to beat. Even in giving it a more recent performance review, we were still surprised by how well it performed. See the full review. Price: $200