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 6 of the top basketball shoes as far as vertical jump performance goes.
Best Shoes For Vertical Jump – At A Glance
- Best Overall – Adidas Dame 8
- Best Budget Shoe – Adidas Dame 7
- Craziest Bounce – Nike Lebron 18
- Most Aesthetic – APL Superfuture
- Also Great – Nike KD14
- Also Decent – Nike PG 4
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 Overall Shoes For Vertical Jump
These shoes have quickly become my favorites – I wear them almost every single day.
These are actually quite a bit different to the Dame 7s – they fit much more snug and feel less wide, but they also have way better lockdown and feel far more secure on your feet – super important for jumping.
The major difference I found was the massively improved cushioning setup. These things have some serious bounce and the shock absorption is also significantly better.
They’re some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn too and felt simply amazing to jump in!
While they’re a little more expensive than the Dame 7s, I think the extra cost is definitely worth it.
You’ll simply enjoy these much, much more.
And they’re still way cheaper than the Lebron 18s!
Bounce Factor: 4.5/5
Impact Protection: 4.5/5
Perfect option for anyone who wants more cushioning than the Dame 7s but isn’t ready to fork out $200+ for the Lebron 18s!
- Better heel lockdown and more secure fit than the Dame 7s.
- Still an extremely affordable shoe!
- Significant improvement in terms of bounce as well as shock absorption.
- Tons of cool colorways.
- I’ve been wearing these almost everyday for months now and honestly can’t find anything to complain about!
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 been testing them for the last few weeks – safe to say I’m pretty pleased with my findings!
The Lightstrike cushion is extremely responsive and the impact protection is exceptional considering the fairly basic tech stack.
This shoe feels like a $150 ride, but costs about 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.
They fit pretty big overall and lockdown isn’t quite as snug as the Dame 8s.
Bounce Factor: 4/5
Impact Protection: 4/5
Ideal option for anyone ballin’ on a budget. Perfect option for outdoor courts.
- Extremely affordable.
- Great bounciness with fantastic shock absorption.
- Great outdoor court shoe.
- The bounce is definitely above average, but isn’t absolutely out of this world.
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.
Craziest Midsole Tech Stack Of All Time
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.
- Don’t perform well outdoors.
Best Looking & Great Performing Shoes For Vertical Jump
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!
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.
- One of the best overall basketball shoes of all time. Incredible comfort and court feel.
- The aesthetics aren’t for everyone…
- Availability online is dwindling.
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!
- Quite poor outdoor durability.
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!
Personally, I’d spend a little extra cash and upgrade the cushioning and overall comfort by opting for the Adidas Dame 8s which are my favorite shoe for absolutely everything!
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!
If you want to put your new shoes to good use, make sure you check out my recent roundup of the best vertical jump training programs on the current market!
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 only been able to personally test the Dame 7s and Dame 8s, but 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 all of these shoes from first hand experience.
Hands On Performance Testing
For the last few months, I’ve been testing both the Dame 7s and Dame 8s, two of the most popular shoes for jumping, by wearing them during some biweekly plyometrics workouts on both hard court as well as outdoor/concrete courts.
These workouts consist of plenty of max jumping as well as other stuff like box and depth jumps.
I’ve been extremely pleased with how both of these shoes have performed so far and they’ve made these jump workouts feel really good.
My feet and joints don’t hurt one bit jumping in either of these shoes!
10+ Hours Of Research
I also 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 2023.
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.