By Dr. Carol Frey
Does your young athlete really need a new pair of shoes for each sport? – The short answer is yes. Good shoes for young athletes are important. And the reason is that an appropriate shoe can prevent injuries. Plain and simple.
If your child signs up for a specific sport, he or she needs shoes designed for that sport. Sometimes the same athletic shoe can work for a couple of different sports if the function of the shoe overlaps. In other words, a Little League player can play baseball in soccer shoes at the A and AA level, but not once the kid is in the majors.
Basketball players should wear basketball shoes, although any court shoe, such as tennis, would work, but those shoes break down more quickly and are not recommended. The basketball shoe provides more side-to-side stability and is built for the sudden stops and start of basketball.
Furthermore, even basketball shoes when used for basketball will break down quickly for some kids. If they start to slide around on well-maintained courts, it is time for new shoes for young athletes. If your player is not making that familiar “squeaky” sound on the court with their shoes, the shoes are not providing as much grip as necessary to execute the plays. Also, a slippery shoe can lead to more ankle and knee injuries.
Another exception to the sport-specific shoe rule is football. Some football players prefer wearing a higher profile (high top) basketball shoe—notably linemen. The higher top shoe may provide more protection for their ankles and further stability for execution of their plays.
Some volleyball players prefer to play in basketball shoes to support the ankles. Since the floor surface is the same—most indoor volleyball is played on basketball courts—a basketball shoe will work for volleyball. The basketball shoe for young athletes will provide better side-to-side stability than most volleyball shoes, but cuts down on agility in general.
The best recommendation is to buy the right shoes with the right fit for the right sport!