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:
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!
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!