Best shoes for dunking

Shoes That Make You Jump Higher? Best Basketball Shoes for Dunking

Like every basketball player, I always wanted to be able to dunk. There was only one problem: I was too lazy to really work hard on my vertical jump. Naturally, I was always on the lookout for shoes that would magically make me jump higher.

In the last years, I have tried a lot of different shoes and learned there are shoes very well suited for vertical jumping and others, not as much. Today, I want to share this knowledge with you.

List of shoes that are great for jumping and dunking:

Are there shoes that will increase your vertical jump?

Every basketball player wants to jump higher, so it is no wonder there is a lot of interest in shoes that give you the extra bounce you need to dominate the basketball court.

There is even a brand of basketball shoes promising to increase your vertical jump with a special mechanism they call "Load and Launch". Athletic Propulsion Labs released their first shoe, the Concept 1, in 2010. Shortly after that, their business really took off when the NBA announced the shoes would be banned because they provided an unfair advantage.​

​The latest sneakers from APL is the Concept 3, and I have to admit I like their style quit a lot!

Do Athletic Propulsion Labs shoes really work?

APL promises to increase your vertical jump by up to 3 inches. There has been a lot of debate about the actual increase of your vertical. Some have found their vertical to be increased by 1 to 1.5 inches (see here or here) while others didn't notice any difference.

You can also watch this video review putting the APL to the test:

As I didn't try these shoes myself (impossible to get for a reasonable price in Germany), I can't personally comment on how well they really work. If someone has experience with the APL Concept 3, please let me know in the comments.

What to look for when buying basketball shoes:

My favourite shoes for dunking right now are the Jordan CP3 IX.

There are three main reasons why these shoes are perfect for vertical jumping:

1. Tight fit

Your shoes have to fit properly if you want to get the best vertical jump results.

There is nothing worse than slipping inside your shoes when trying to jump. Badly fitting shoes make you lose much of your momentum and stability during take-off and seriously reduce your jump height. If your feet don't feel securely locked in, you might want to consider wearing high-performance basketball socks; they really make a difference.

Overall, you really can't underestimate the importance of a snug fit. In fact, when basketball players get their vertical jump measured in pre-draft combines, they often wear shoes a half-size too small to ensure as tight a fit as possible!

2. Really good traction

This point is very related to #1. Slippery shoes (or courts) are poison to jumping high.

During a vertical jump, you first gain horizontal speed by running towards the hoop, then you plant your jumping leg (or both) and use your leg(s) as a lever(s) to transform the horizontal speed into vertical speed.

Now, imagine what happens if your shoes slip on the surface when you try to jump.

You either fall or your jump will be much lower because your leg loses tension and can no longer act as an effective lever.

This is also the reason you can jump a lot higher on pristine, regularly-waxed, hardwood courts compared to dusty outdoor courts. You are able to convert horizontal speed into vertical speed much more effectively.

3. Stiff sole 

When it comes to jumping as high as possible, you don't want shoes with a lot of cushion. While these may be more comfortable and easier on your joints, they also absorb a lot of energy when you are pushing into the ground and, therefore, negatively affect your vertical.

This is comparable to dribbling a flat basketball. If the air pressure is too low, the ball dampens the impact so much it doesn't bounce back as high as it would if the ball were fully inflated.

Now that you now what to look for, I want to show you some basketball shoes suited really well for jumping.

Overview of great shoes for dunking:



  • Price: Out of stock

Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 3

  • Specifically designed to increase your vertical jump
  • Herringbone rubber outer sole with very good traction
  • Internal bootie for tight fit
  • Price: $97.00

Jordan CP3 IX 

  • My current favorite basketball shoes
  • Amazing fit and very good traction
  • Stiff outer sole transmits power very well during take off
  • Price: $99.91

Jordan CP3 X 

  • Great traction indoors
  • Very good court feel due to light cushioning 
  • Flyweave wraps the complete foot resulting in perfect fit
  • Price: Out of stock

Nike Kyrie 3

  • Low profile guard shoes with herringbone traction pattern
  • Snug fit locks in your foot tightly
  • Perfect for quick moves and crossovers
  • Price: $89.95
    Was: $120.00

Adidas Crazy Light Boost 2016

  • Awesome traction, comparable to the Kobe 9
  • Firm lockdown, especially at the heels
  • Stronger cushioning compared to the other shoes presented
  • Best low top basketball shoe according to

My #1 basketball shoes for jumping high:

I have tried a lot of different basketball shoes in my life, and for the last few years, I was a big fan of the Nike Kobe series. These low-cut shoes usually had a rather narrow and tight fit and great traction. But, since the Kobe X, the series has been bit disappointing to me.The new shoes feel a lot bulkier than previous editions and the sole pattern didn't hold up on dustier courts at all.

So, I was in the market for new shoes ​and I found my new #1 basketball shoes: the Jordan CP3 IX.

These shoes provide excellent fit, awesome traction and just the right amount of cushion. I am absolutely in love with these shoes, because they make me feel really "connected" to the court and allow me to jump higher as well as to make cuts much quicker than in my previous Kobe X. You can check them out here.

If you want to know more about the Jordan CP3 IX, check out this great review video.

Bonus tip: Best Shoes for measuring your vertical jump:

If you are measuring your vertical jump for something like a pre-draft combine and your single goal is to jump as high as possible, I have another tip for you:

Race Waffles!​

You don't want to play basketball in these, but if you just want to perform the best vertical jump, these are a great option.

Race waffles are extremely light, have a very stiff sole ​and are made for rapid acceleration, which makes them great for jumping high.

One example of such a shoe is the Nike Zoom Rival, they are definitely not made for playing basketball, but if you purchase them a half size too small and break them in a little bit you have the perfect shoes to impress the scouts with your vertical jump! 

Leave a Comment:

Kyle says May 10, 2016

Good tips! And wow, those points on the bottom of the shoes kind of remind me of cleats. Surprised that you can wear something like this on the court and not have to worry too much about damaging the court nor the shoe.

    Andy says May 11, 2016

    If you talk about the shoes on the bottom: Yes they are cleats, and off course you don’t want to play basketball in these, but if you are testing ypur vertical jump (for example at the NFL combine) these shoes are really good because the have insane traction and are very light.

Logan Leighty says December 25, 2016

I know this is an old post but I have the all white concept 3 size 12. My review would be that they have great traction extremely comfortable and the spring technology works……sorta. Greater benefits jumping off two feet and I did jump higher wearing them I think. I am 6’2 and can dunk but when I would wear the shoes I was always really excited and had higher energy levels which I guess could help add a little extra but you do feel as though you jump higher for sure. Only negative is they don’t breathe that well

    Whatsmyvertical says December 25, 2016

    That’s interesting, maybe they could help me as a typical two-feet jumper as well. Perhaps I can find them somewhere for cheap.

Adrian says February 28, 2017

Thank you for your suggestion! Question though: I’m actually thinking about buying 2016 nike hyperdunks low. I agree with you on all your points but I want a shoe that’s light. Do any of these shoes provide that? any shoes you would suggest? thank you

    Andy says March 2, 2017

    I just checked the weight of the Nike Hyperdunk low compared to the other shoes:

    Hyperdunk Low: 12.04oz
    Jordan CP3X: 12.07oz
    Nike Kyrie 3: 13.04oz
    adidas crazylight: 13.06oz

    So the weight of the shoes is really not much different. I doubt that 1 oz really makes a difference you can feel.

thomas says May 8, 2017

I love the shoes

Sirijan says August 17, 2017

Recently I bought a Shoe names ‘adidas cf executor mid’ It has a cloadfoam sole but the lower grip is quite stiff, was it a good purchase for basketball ?

    Andy says August 21, 2017

    Honestly, I have never heard about that shoe, so I can’t really tell you…

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