The constant running, sliding, and turning involved in basketball puts an incredible amount of strain on any pair of sneakers – and any pair of feet.
Athletes at all levels are potentially susceptible to plantar fasciitis or other types of foot pain, which can sideline even the toughest of pros.
Some types of inflammation can’t be cured by rest or ice alone. These issues may require a trip to the podiatrist, but before going down that route, you might want to consider picking up a pair of insoles.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ve reviewed 7 of the best insoles for basketball on the market right now.
No time to spare? Use this handy table to quickly compare our top picks:
Best Basketball Insoles
Let’s begin our reviews!
Here are the 7 best basketball insoles for sale in 2020:
- Shock Doctor Active Ultra Insoles
- Superfeet Carbon Sport Insoles
- Walkhero Plantar Fasciitis Insoles
- Sof Sole Men’s Airr Insoles
- Sof Sole Athlete Insole
- OKAY Healthy Step Insoles
- Spenco GRF Basketball Insoles
Shock Doctor’s insoles are always a little special. Their goal is to make the best inserts on the market in terms of overall quality. As a result, they often cost a little more than their competitors’ orthotics. But are they actually worth it?
The Active Ultra is a little bit more flexible than your average insole. As a result, it’s able to adapt to your specific foot shape, making it extremely comfortable to wear. Despite this, it still offers a good amount of support, and is firm enough to keep your foot nice and stable. Just be aware that there’s a 7-day break-in period – you might want to walk around in them for a week or so before using them in-game.
Another thing Shock Doctor have prioritized with this insole is shock absorption. There’s a shock pad in both the forefoot and heel, which provides excellent protection when landing on hard courts. Plus, you get a layer of “rebound foam”, giving you that extra edge when jumping. There’s also an odor-preventing top coat, which doubles as an anti-slip layer, helping to prevent both blisters and bacterial buildup.
At 5mm thick, the Active Ultra is even thinner than the Spenco GRF we looked at below. However, it’s still fairly durable, and you won’t see any worn-down areas (in the toe for example) for a season at least.
You’ve heard of carbon fiber being used on cars, so why on Earth would you want this material in an insole?
Well, the same principles apply. Most importantly, it helps to save weight, ensuring you get the support you need while maintaining the agility of a super-thin foam insole. At the same time, this carbon composite is incredibly durable, which is why they use it on NASCAR body panels.
Surprisingly, it’s also quite flexible, but at the same time, the heel cup isn’t going to bend, so you don’t have to worry about slippage when running/jumping. What’s more, this insert is made in the USA, meaning each and every one is well put-together. You won’t wear this thing down for at least a year or two, even if you train/play every week.
However, Superfeet’s product is another relatively expensive option, because carbon fiber isn’t exactly cheap to source. You definitely get what you pay for though – the arch is perfect for flat feet, and doesn’t feel too firm. Plus, since it’s designed specifically for sport, this insole has the springiness you need to maintain your vertical while also having excellent anti-odor properties.
Price isn’t always the best indication of quality when it comes to insoles. Although it’s by no means the most expensive option, this Walkhero insert is excellent value for money.
These insoles aren’t made for just basketball players. However, the shock absorption provided by the premium EVA material makes them a go-to pair for ballers with flat feet or medium arches. Although these orthotics are made with plantar fasciitis in mind, they’re perfect for those just looking for a little extra comfort as well.
Because these insoles are quite thick, they’re durable enough to use for cross training, dog walking, or even just strolling around town. This is great, because foot pain can result from improper everyday leg alignment as well as inadequate cushioning on-court.
If you do opt to use the Walkhero insoles in all your shoes, consider getting multiple sets. Otherwise, you’ll have to swap them over whenever you change the pair you’re wearing.
The best thing about these orthotics though is the fact that you’ll get a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied with them. This money-back guarantee is an awesome thing to have, as most people end up trying several different products before finding the perfect insoles for their specific needs.
Designed to reduce pain and keep feet cool, these insoles are perfect for serious athletes. They’re constructed from reinforced nylon, which offers excellent arch support. If you’re trying to correct overpronation as a result of flat feet, these orthotics are a great pick.
However, what really makes these insoles so awesome for basketball is the amount of cushioning they provide. Sof Sol’s signature SKYDEX air bubbles in the heel offer an incredible amount of padding, which is crucial for rebounders. There’s also a nylon plate in the arch for additional shock absorption.
The downside to all this padding is that the Airr is a little thicker than most other insoles. If your current pair of shoes is pretty tight (and your existing insole is relatively thin) this could cause the top of your foot to rub on the tongue a little. However, if you’ve got slightly loose shoes, these insoles can help you achieve the perfect fit.
As you’d expect (considering what they cost), the Airr comes with a pretty effective anti-odor fabric. They’re also incredibly durable, in large part due to their thickness. The nylon doesn’t wear down easily, meaning you could get a year or two of regular use out of these orthotics.
Just be aware: the Airr runs slightly narrow.
This is another option from Sof Sole. The difference between this insole and the Airr we just looked at is this is a slightly thinner option.
While both insoles are designed for athletic use specifically, the Athlete has a bit less cushioning, and a more neutral fit. It’s a better option for basketball players who have a fairly normal foot profile but still want to increase the amount of support in their shoe.
As you’d expect from Sof Sole, you get super-comfortable gel inserts inside the actual insole – the ones in the heel feel particularly nice to walk on. Despite this, the Athlete is still a pretty durable insole – the gel doesn’t wear out over the years like you might expect it to.
The Athlete’s low-profile design means that these insoles work great if you already have a shoe that fits perfect, and don’t want something too thick. However, this design does reduce the insole’s shock absorption a little bit.
If you want the best-possible protection when landing or running, or have chronic issues like plantar fasciitis, it may be best to go for something slightly thicker.
Crafted in a space-age green, these inserts look and feel very futuristic. They’re not just stylish though – these insoles are all about the bottom line: completely eliminating foot pain.
How do they achieve this? It all starts with the fit. This orthotic is designed to be trimmed, so you can make it work with any foot size. And once you find the perfect fit, you won’t have to replace them for a really, really long time.
You don’t have to be a basketball pro to rock these on the court. In saying this, due to the generous padding at the heel and forefoot, this insert would be durable enough for NBA all-stars as well as pick-up players.
Another unique thing about OKAY’s product is the anti-slip material they’ve used on the surface. This stuff is great for basketball players, as it helps to keep your foot in place and prevent blisters caused by rubbing.
The only real drawback to these inserts is the price. They’re not extremely expensive – and they’re certainly cheaper than the custom orthotics a podiatrist might sell you – but they are more expensive than most comparable products.
PS: like the Comenii insert we just reviewed, these insoles are on the firm side.
Unlike most of the other insoles we’ve looked at so far, these inserts are actually made with basketball in mind. But what does this actually mean?
Well, the GRF is a little more expensive than normal orthotics. But this is probably because it has a heap of really useful features.
For starters, you get better padding than what most other insoles offer. The forefoot for example comes with what Spenco calls a “launch and crash pad”. Basically, the cushioning has slightly more spring to it, allowing you to jump a little higher.
At the same time, these insoles have the shock absorption you need to help reduce tissue damage when landing. Despite this, the insert itself is only 6.30mm thick at the forefoot, which is why it’s incredibly light.
You also get a metatarsal dome and heel cup for improved stability, especially when making sharp turns. The arch support is also fantastic – this is a great orthotic for those with plantar fasciitis or fallen arches.
The only downside to the GRF (apart from its price) is its durability. You might only get a season of use out of them (rather than 2-3 years) before needing a new pair.
Basketball Insole Buyers’ Guide
Whether you’re purchasing your first pair of insoles or shopping around for a new set, here are some things you should keep in mind.
A twisted ankle or jammed toe is totally different to having chronic issues like plantar fasciitis or shin splints. These nagging ailments can come from years of intense basketball, or may be the result of improper foot alignment.
However, with the right orthotics, you can reduce or even completely eliminate this ongoing pain, allowing you to play to your full potential.
For pain relief, look for something with excellent cushioning, particularly in the arch area (more on this below).
You might have noticed that nearly all of the insoles we’ve looked at say that they’re designed for flat feet. Basically, this means that they have a slightly firmer arch which helps to prevent overpronation.
But what about people with high arches?
Well, you’ll also want insoles with a fairly large arch area. The difference is, you’ll want this support to be higher than what a person with flat feet needs. This helps to redistribute the weight of your step more evenly across your foot. Firm options with high arches like the Comenii insole are your best bet.
Players with narrow feet can generally choose pretty much any insole on the market. However, those with wide feet may want to avoid certain types of one-size-fits-all inserts.
If you generally need wider shoes, be on the lookout for especially wide insoles. Getting a pair that’s too narrow might do more harm than good in terms of your alignment and comfort.
When an insole claims to be “adjustable,” what this really means is that you’ll have to trim it to fit your sneakers. Some athletes don’t mind doing this. There are plenty of players out there who wear these types of products.
On the flip side, some people like to choose insoles that are sized as close as possible to their actual shoe size. If you go down this path, you won’t have to worry about messing up a trim, but you should pay close attention to the manufacturer’s size guide to avoid getting something too small.
Unsurprisingly, the way you intend to use your insoles will greatly affect their lifespan. If you only play basketball on the weekends for example, you might not put as much wear and tear on them as you would with everyday use.
Some people like to get multiple pairs for their basketball sneakers, cross-trainers, and casual shoes. If you have persistent pain, this is something you should consider.
However, if you only want to start with one pair of insoles to swap in and out of all your footwear, then make sure you’re buying a set that offers excellent durability. The benefit of just getting just one pair at first is that it allows you to find out what insole suits you, without breaking the bank.
If you find something you like, then it’s easy to buy another similar pair for your other shoes. But it can be a little annoying to have to swap your insoles out every time you change your shoes.
You’ll see a lot of different materials used in various insoles. Nylon, silicone, and EVA are just some examples.
Usually, a company will tell you why they chose one material over another. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
- Nylon is often used to add extra support due to its firmness – for example in the heel area.
- Gel/EVA is excellent for shock absorption and helps to add extra cushioning.
- Silicone is a good all-rounder – it’s normally very soft but can provide superb support (depending on the density used). Plus, it’s incredibly durable.
There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about which material is best. Just remember: for support, you should look for firmer options like nylon. For comfort, you’ll want softer materials like EVA foam.
Manufacturers also like to use moisture-wicking fabric to reduce odors and the buildup of bacteria. This isn’t a crucial thing to have, but it can help to make your shoes a little more comfortable.
Playing through pain is no fun at all. Finding relief can sometimes take time, and choosing an insole that doesn’t work out in the end can be quite a frustrating experience – especially if you’re forced to keep it.
If for some reason the insole isn’t right for your feet, your style of play, or anything else, you’ll want to be able to return it easily.
Fortunately, there are a few brands out there that offer a no-questions-asked return policy. Surprisngly, the companies with money-back guarantees aren’t always the premium options.
The old saying that “you get what you pay for” isn’t necessarily true in the world of insoles. Every athlete has different needs, so buying the most expensive option isn’t necessarily going to help you very much. In fact, the insoles designed with your pain and foot type in mind may end up being one of the cheapest available options.
If you pay more, you might get something that’s slightly more durable, which comes with anti-slip technology for example. But again, compatibility with your feet is more important than these sorts of features. Instead, look for inserts advertised to help cure your specific issue – plantar fasciitis for example.
Don’t get discouraged if your first pair of insoles are no good. There are plenty of off-the-shelf options for you to put to the test before having to drop big money on custom-made orthotics.
Hopefully you found the right pair of insoles for your specific needs!
If you’re still unsure what to get, leave a comment below and we’ll get right back to you.
About the author
Matt is the newest face on the Lift Your Game team.
He’s a former college football player, and also played soccer and tennis in high school.
In his spare time, you’ll either find him at the gym, or on the couch playing Madden!