When it comes to jumping as high as humanly possible, having the right pair of kicks can make a pretty big difference…
Although no shoe has ever been proven to actually increase your vertical jump, the right footwear can certainly help maximize your jumping performance.
In this article I’m going to discuss 5 of the top basketball shoes as far as vertical jump performance goes.
Click here to learn more about the process I used to compile this list.
So whether you’re doing a dunk session, plyometric training, or simply want to be jumping your highest during basketball or volleyball games, these shoes are you best options, in my opinion.
At the end of the article I discuss the extensive research process I went through to create this list but, just briefly, the selection criteria included impact protection, overall bounce/spring, and affordability.
Let’s jump right into it!
Best Value Shoe
Adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY
For a shoe that costs less than $100, the cushioning system in the Dame 7s is absolutely ridiculous. If you’re looking for extremely good performance without breaking the bank, look no further than the Dame 7!
Best Budget Shoes For Vertical Jump
In terms of value for money, it’s really difficult to go past the Dame 7 EXTPLY.
I’ve got the Damenosis version and I’ve just begun testing them!
The Lightstrike cushion is extremely responsive and the impact protection is exceptional considering the fairly basic tech stack.
This shoe feels like a $200 ride, but costs less than half of that.
The Dame 7 also has an excellent reputation for being one of the best and most durable outdoor basketball shoes and will bite nicely on just about any surface!
They come in a bunch of cool colorways and are perfect for wide feet also.
Bounce Factor: 4/5
Impact Protection: 4/5
Ideal option for anyone ballin’ on a budget. Perfect option for outdoor courts.
You will usually be able to get a pair of Dame 7s for around $75, making these the most affordable option by a lot.
Great bounciness with fantastic shock absorption.
Dame 7s have earnt a reputation for being one of the best shoes for outdoor basketball courts.
Better traction than the Dame 8s!
The bounce is definitely above average, but isn’t absolutely out of this world.
*Note: The Dame 7s retail primarily through Amazon these days and no longer sell on the official Adidas website. You may need to hunt around for alternatives if you don’t want to use Amazon.
Best Overall Shoe
Nike Lebron 18
The Lebron 18s have one of the craziest midsole tech stacks of any basketball shoe ever created. With incredible bounce and amazing cushioning, there’s simply no better jumping experience.
Best Overall Shoes For Vertical Jump
The Lebron 18s are widely regarded as having quite possibly the craziest cushioning setup of all time (except for maybe the G.T. Jumps).
The tech Nike were able to cram into this midsole is pretty unbelievable…
With a full length Zoom Strobel unit and an air max unit crammed into a cushlon midsole, we’d never before seen a cushion quite like this one.
Nike took a risk but it worked out amazingly as that combo has remained one of the favorite midsole tech stacks of basketball fanatics ever since.
This basketball shoe is definitely not cheap, but it’s an investment well worth making if you want the bounciest possible experience when jumping.
Be warned however that the Lebron 18s kind of suck on outdoor courts…
The outsoles seem very willing to fray on rougher surfaces, so it might be a good idea to save these for the hardwood only.
Bounce Factor: 5/5
Impact Protection: 5/5
These shoes are great for athletes playing on indoor courts only. They’re the best overall option for anyone chasing mega bounce.
Arguably the most ridiculously bouncy shoes on the market today.
Some of the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear!
Can get fairly expensive in a lot of colorways.
In terms of durability, the Lebron 18s perform quite poorly on outdoor courts.
*Note: The Lebron 18s retail primarily through Amazon these days and no longer sell on the official Nike website. You may need to hunt around for alternatives if you don’t want to use Amazon.
The infamous APL basketball shoe ‘banned by the NBA’, while it probably won’t actually make you jump higher, these are about as good as it gets to jump in!
Best Shoes For Vertical Jump – Runner Up
Okay, let’s get one thing crystal clear…
No shoe has ever been proven to increase your vertical jump.
There is absolutely no data that suggests your vertical jump increases while wearing these shoes…
We do however have data which shows how you feel about your shoes slightly impacts performance.1https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329912270_Does_the_weight_of_basketball_shoes_affect_speed_and_jumping_performance
So if you think you’ll jump higher in these, you actually just might!
And while these shoes don’t exactly work as promised, they are still an amazing shoe to jump in and check all the boxes: both bounce and impact protection are top notch.
You can definitely feel a good bit of extra ‘pop’ from the launch pad technology, and all reports indicate the Superfuture to be an insanely responsive shoe.
So far as traction goes, the Superfuture also performs exceptionally well both indoors and outdoors.
The full length FutureFoam cushion also does a really solid job as far as impact protection goes. Materials are really gorgeous as well, which you’d expect for the price tag!
This shoe is certainly not cheap at $300, and while that is arguably too much to pay for just about any sneaker, this shoe definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Class shoe for jumping in, and all of the colorways look incredible!
I’m a big fan of the green.
Bounce Factor: 4.5/5
Impact Protection: 4.5/5
Great choice for anyone who doesn’t mind dropping $300 on sneakers. Probably best to wear these indoors only for that reason!
Load ‘N Launch tech helps to maximize bounce.
Full length FutureFoam midsole is super soft and comfy while being highly responsive.
Best looking shoe on this list!?
At $300, these bad boys are definitely not cheap!
If you want serious spring, pick a shoe with a full length Zoom Strobel unit in the midsole. And while you’re at it, why not pick a shoe with god tier traction and responsiveness!
The KD14 Also Has Some Serious Spring!
I wouldn’t blame you if you put the KD14 above the Superfuture on this list… This shoe has big time bounce!
In terms of cushioning, the KD14 is also a cushlon + full length Zoom Strobel unit, just as in the Lebron 18.
The only difference is the KD14 doesn’t have the air max unit on top of this.
Some people think that setup was a bit overkill, and a lot of people think the KD14 has a perfectly balanced setup.
Personally, I like that extra crazy bounce and so I slightly prefer the Lebrons, but either of these shoes are going to bring the goods.
The KD14 is a more well rounded basketball shoe with superior traction and responsiveness.
KD14 Vs KD15 For Jumping?
It’s a bit hard to tell just yet whether the Nike KD15 is superior to the KD14 when it comes to jumping…
Both shoes use the same midsole tech stack, although the bounce does feel a bit different… The KD15 is reported to be a bit firmer and slightly more springy, whereas the KD14 is has a softer/more pillowy type of energy return.2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzHHmeRM9pM
Bounce Factor: 4/5
Impact Protection: 4/5
The KD14s are probably the best basketball shoe performance wise on this list. A great choice for serious basketballers who also want serious bounce!
Slightly more mellow and balanced bounce compared to the Lebron 18s, who some people feel are too bouncy.
One of the best overall basketball shoes of all time. Incredible comfort and court feel.
The aesthetics aren’t for everyone…
*Note: The KD14s retail primarily through Amazon these days and no longer sell on the official Nike website. You may need to hunt around for alternatives if you don’t want to use Amazon.
Nike PG 4
If you’re after a more mellow bounce but still want top level impact protection and a massive boost to comfort, the PG 4s can’t be overlooked.
Another Classic Shoe For Major Bounce
Taking a step back from the Zoom units, we’ve got a full length Air Strobel unit in the PG 4s which make for one of the most comfortable cushioning setups ever.
There’s a reason I’ve chosen the PG 4 as opposed to the PG 5 or 6: it’s because the bounce and impact protection is definitely superior in the 4s.
If you’re looking for a softer, more low key bounce with amazing comfort, look no further than the PG 4.
You’ll still get top tier impact protection from these but just expect a slightly more mellow bounce.
Traction on these is solid but it’s a fairly hard wipe and has pretty dodgy outsole durability on outdoor courts, so be mindful of that.
Bounce Factor: 3.5/5
Impact Protection: 4.5/5
A great budget friendly option for anyone who prefers comfort over insane amounts of spring.
If you’re not a huge fan of the really springy Zoom unit midsoles, the PG 4 has a more mellow bounce and is super comfortable.
Really affordable! These kicks are the best budget option for jumping after the Dame 7s.
Quite poor outdoor durability.
*Note: The PG 4s retail primarily through Amazon these days and no longer sell on the official Nike website. You may need to hunt around for alternatives if you don’t want to use Amazon.
When it comes to jumping as high as you possibly can, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get some fantastic kicks… The Adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY has some nice spring, great shock absorption, and is less than a hundred bucks!
If you’ve got a bit more cash to work with and want truly otherworldly bounce, the Nike Lebron 18s are the best possible jumping experience you can have on a basketball court!
My Shoe Testing & Review Process
I always make it my mission to be as comprehensive as possible with these product reviews so I can be as helpful as possible to my readers.
Unfortunately, I’ve not yet been able to personally test any of these shoes, but I have ordered a pair of Dame 7s, Dame 8s, and will look to get my hands on some Lebron 18s and Superfutures in the near future as well.
So in the interest of full transparency, I cannot yet speak about these products from first hand experience.
Hands On Performance Testing
Within a few weeks I’ll be able to report back with some more detailed information about the Dame 7s/8s and I’ll update this article accordingly.
10+ Hours Of Research
I definitely did plenty of research while making this article which involved watching countless performance reviews of 30+ different basketball shoes.
The shoes I selected were the ones that came up repeatedly as being extremely bouncy, that you can actually buy in 2022.
I did previously have other shoes in this list as well, such as the Nike G.T. Jumps but chose to remove them since they’re becoming extremely difficult to buy these days.
Continually Updating With New Products & Information
As I gain more experience using each of the shoes on this list, I’ll be updating this article so that you know exactly how my feelings towards each shoe evolve over time.
I’m also constantly reviewing all new basketball and volleyball shoes to hit the market, so as soon as something else comes along that’s also great for jumping, I’ll add it to this article.
Feel free to read more about my product testing standards and review process.
What To Look For When Buying Shoes For Jumping
The list I’ve created today is not a list of the best shoes to play basketball games in… This list is only concerned with maximizing vertical jump performance and experience.
No shoe will increase your vertical jump, but there’s a few shoes which will maximize it and improve how it feels when jumping.
If the main thing you’re going for is something that feels incredible to jump in, there’s really only 2 things you need to look for.
Extra Bounce Response
You want a shoe which makes you feel like you’re about to jump out the gym.
We refer to this as ‘bounce’ – it’s that energy return from the shoe that makes you feel like you’re popping off the floor.
Some shoes offer virtually no extra bounce, but all of the shoes I’ve listed above are big on bounce.
Almost all of this comes down to the technology crammed into the midsole.
Ideally you want a full length Zoom Strobel unit in there which tends to be the bounciest midsole tech.
If you can add some air max units to that (i.e. Lebron 18), you’ve got yourself some ridiculous pop.
After the Zoom Strobel you have the Air Strobel units which are a slight step down but still extremely good (PG 4)
After that you have your regular foam tech.
The cushion also plays a huge role when it comes to impact protection.
For anyone doing a serious amount of jumping, I cannot stress the importance of a solid cushioning setup.
When you jump a lot, you put tons of strain on your joints. If your shoes aren’t high on shock absorption, your knees will eventually turn to dust.
One of the best ways to prevent jumper’s knee is to ensure you’re getting adequate impact protection when jumping and a huge part of this is having the right cushioning in your shoes.