Can the right shoe really make you jump higher?
First off, the right shoe can make a difference in your performance, but the benefits of a good shoe are limited, so don’t get your hopes up too high. If your muscles are not capable of jumping very high, no shoe (no matter how good) is going to magically make you jump higher. How many bad athletes have you seen wearing Jordan’s shoes? Yeah, a lot. It is not the shoe that makes the athlete.
Let’s put this into perspective: choosing the WRONG shoe will impair your performance, rather than enhance it. But there are benefits to buying a good pair of shoes.
1. How they feel and how they make you feel.
If you are not comfortable in the shoe, don’t waste your money. How comfortable the shoe feels on your feet is probably the most important thing to consider when buying shoes. If the shoe is uncomfortable, it is only going to be a distraction.
You want the shoe to be tight-fitting in such a way it feels like an extension of the foot. You don’t want to feel like the shoe is cutting off circulation.
The other consideration to make when buying a shoe is how the shoes make you feel. If the shoe makes you feel really good, like you are an all-star, then you are going to have a confidence boost. If you feel really stupid in the shoe, then the shoe is not going to help you at all.
TIP: Insoles can definitely go a long way in adding comfort to the shoe. Stay away from the super cushy gel insoles, because they will only make your shoe slide around. I recommend a firm, padded insole, preferably one that you can customize to your foot’s shape; there are some you can heat in the oven to accomplish this.
2. Will high-tops provide more stability?
If you like high-tops, that’s fine, but if you’re choosing them for the “stability,” then I need to tell you something: high-tops are not going to prevent your ankle from rolling. If you have ankle problems, then get an ankle brace.
As well as getting an ankle brace, you should also do some ankle-strengthening exercises as well as some unstable surface training. A strong ankle is crucial to ankle health, not high-tops. High-tops will only give you a false sense of security.
3. Will a light shoe make you run faster or jump higher?
The lightest shoe on the market right now is the new Kobe 5, which weighs 11 oz. Most shoes are about 11-20 oz. But let me be honest, the weight is not going to make much of a difference on your performance. You’ll lose more weight if you use the bathroom before playing! Now, if you are wearing the Kobe 5, you may feel a slight difference in weight and you may feel lighter, but if you’re talking physics, the additional few ounces are not going to make a difference. But if it makes you feel good, then go ahead and wear it.
4. Springs, special insoles, rubber, lunar foam etc…
Yeah, these features have gotten a lot of athletes excited for “instant” results. But unfortunately, they do not deliver or else everyone would be a professional player. Sorry to tell you this, but shoes cannot turn you into a bouncy ball.
The reactivity of an athlete does NOT come from their shoe. I repeat, it does not come from the shoe. It comes through the entire muscle/tendon complex of the involved muscles. If you want to improve your reactivity, then you should exercise these muscles properly. Even if a shoe could truly deliver what advertisers promise, your body will not support the extra boost if it is not capable of doing it.
5. Carbon fiber shank plate in the sole
Some companies advertise a fiber plate in the sole to ensure your “toe off” isn’t weak. Supposedly, this would allow you to push with your entire foot and not worry about your toes. Great concept, but shoes already have a lot of padding and support on the bottom. The idea of additional toe support is just a marketing tactic.
I hope no one thinks I’m trying to sound negative here; I’m not. Like other athletes, I love a good pair of shoes. But I have seen more than my share of gimmicks when it comes to shoes. We have to realize that shoes are just shoes; they can only do so much. You get more out of your game if you rely on a good training program to make improvements. The most important thing you can get from a shoe is comfort and fit.