The Ultimate Guide For Choosing Best Baseball Gear In 2022

Best Baseball Equipment Guide

Baseball is a wonderful sport to play for all ages, but sometimes finding the right gear to play in can be tricky for some people. With so many different options out there and more seemingly every day, searching for the right gear for your position can actually be a lot of fun too. Having the correct baseball equipment on can be the difference from stretching out a single into a double and you do not want to let your team down with the game on the line!

Best Baseball Equipment Guide

Your Guide

Andrew Buller-Russ   Andrew Buller-Russ

There has been a lot of great baseball equipment and training gear made specifically for baseball players throughout history, and more being refined every day.

As time has gone on baseball has seen many great inventions come to life such as the oven mitt worn by base runners to protect their hands while sliding.

In today’s fast paced world it can be hard to keep up with all of the latest baseball innovations on the market today.

I know for myself, when shopping for equipment, things can get a bit confusing. There are so many great products out there that when it comes time to narrow down all the options, making a selection can be a bit overwhelming.

My goal is to help define and point out some of the really helpful products that are available out on the market today.

Hopefully by raising awareness of some of the truly great things surrounding the game of baseball and the legendary history that surrounds it, you will also become more passionate about pursuing a career in baseball.

There are many helpful pieces of information and tips that you can use for yourself and maybe share with a friend that I hope you find useful for yourself and others. I also will point out some great books and movies to help keep you entertained along the way.

I also want to point out some of the great methods you can begin to practice with to make you a better baseball player.

My goal by the end of this article will be to leave you, the reader, feeling much more knowledgeable about baseball and its components. I hope you find my recommendations to be helpful in your own career.

How To Choose The Best Baseball Glove

Before you even step on the baseball field, you need a glove that fits you comfortably. Luckily baseball gloves come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. Playing baseball with the correct baseball glove is essential to fielding your position well.

Depending on which position in the field you are playing, your baseball mitt can have a large effect on how well you are able to catch the ball. Believe it or not, not every baseball glove is made the same. For example, if you are trying to play in the outfield with a catcher’s mitt, your fielding ability will be greatly hindered.

What To Look For

Comfort and fit are two important factors to keep in mind when shopping for a baseball glove. Most importantly though, you need the correct glove for the position you are playing. Catchers and first basemen always have the largest glove on the field to catch the throws across the diamond, while the second baseman has the smallest glove for a quick grip on the ball.

Pitchers can get away with using any type of infielders glove. Most pitchers use a lot of deception on the mound, so it would be wise to find a glove that has a closed web to hide the grip used on the ball from the batter. The trick for pitchers is finding a glove that feels comfortable and does not get in the way of their pitching motion.

Although there are some really flashy and fancy baseball gloves, some gloves do not play or function as well as others. When you are shopping for a glove, it should not be about the styling or looks of it, focus on the functionality first and then the color or style later. Have patience when searching for a pitching glove, finding the right sized glove for you can be a headache if you do not know what to look for.

If a glove is too small, it could be difficult to grip your pitches without your opponent being able to see your pitch selection. On the other end of the spectrum, you do not want a glove too large either as that may be too awkward and heavy during the pitching motion. Finding the perfect balance for a pitching glove can be tricky.

Generally a good rule of thumb for pitchers is to have a glove that is somewhere between 11 ¾” and 12”. Some pitchers have found that they prefer a glove ½” smaller or larger. This size range has been commonly found to be large enough to hide pitch grips while being small enough to keep a consistent throwing motion.

The catcher’s mitt is the most unique of the group. The catcher is asked to catch balls thrown at high speeds and thus needs more padding and protection.  The catcher’s mitt is generally much larger to give pitchers a larger target to aim for and to catch pitches that are thrown out of control.

The first baseman’s glove is also special since it is much larger than other gloves on the diamond and does not have any finger holes. The open end also has a unique curve along the edge to allow the fielder to pick and scoop balls up from the dirt. Generally the first baseman’s glove is the largest to give the other infielders a much larger target when attempting to throw a runner out.

The middle infield mainly uses smaller gloves that are lighter in weight. For infielders, flexibility and quickness is important, so having a glove that matches those abilities is crucial. The smaller glove allows for the infielder to quickly find the ball in their glove and throw the runner out in a timely manner.

Shortstops and third basemen usually will have a bit longer glove to help increase their fielding range. Since third basemen are sometimes closer to home plate when playing the shift or a bunt, their gloves usually feature deeper pockets to catch balls that are hit really hard. With a longer glove on the third base line, the fielder will have a longer reach when diving or extending out for the baseball.

Outfielders have the longest gloves on the field, this helps with those “shoe-string” catches and balls that fielders really have to stretch out for. The longer glove also helps when outfielders snag balls that are headed over the outfield fence by extending their reach. No matter what position you play, it is important to recognize which glove you are buying, for example if you are left-handed you would need a left –handed glove.

Recommendation For You – Wilson A2000 Baseball Glove Series

When it comes to selecting the very best baseball glove to use I would recommend going with any variation of the Wilson A2000.The official glove of the MLB, Wilson has been making some version of the A2000 glove since 1957. There are many variations to the glove and depending on the position you play, you should be able to find the one that is right for you.

Here is a video sharing some tips for measuring and finding the right glove for you:

Wilson A2000 Baseball Glove Series

Wilson A2000 Baseball Glove Series

How To Choose The Best Baseball Bat

The dream of every young baseball fan is to hit a home run but you can’t do that without having a baseball bat to hit with.  Baseball bats are made of many different materials such as metal, aluminum and various species of wood.  Whether you have a metal bat or a wooden baseball bat, you will still be able to have a lot of fun hitting a baseball.

What To Look For

Aluminum bats are much lighter than wood and can be swung much quicker. With a metal or aluminum bat, the ball will have a loud Ping! sound when making contact with the bat. When you hit with a metal or aluminum bat, the ball has the ability to come off the bat much harder and go much farther.

Baseball bats come in many forms, for practical purposes we are going to focus on baseball bats made from wood. Generally wooden bats are used in professional and adult baseball leagues. Wooden baseball bats are made from a variety of wood species such as Ash, Bamboo, Birch, Hickory, Maple, and Pine.

Hickory bats have largely fallen out of favor due to their heavier weight that slows down the swing speed, while Maple bats have gained popularity due to them being lightweight. Maple is the most widely used bat in the MLB today at 95%. Choosing which wood species you prefer to hit with is up to you, but some players certainly have their preferences.

Some baseball players are very superstitious, some choose to change bats multiple times throughout the game, while some stick with the same bat style for their whole career. No matter what your beliefs are, the most important factor when selecting a bat is determining how the bat feels in your hand and how comfortable you feel while swinging it. There are many helpful size guides out there to help determine which size baseball bat may be best suited for you.

Recommendation For You – Marucci AP5 Pro Model

There are literally hundreds of different baseball bats to select from and narrowing them down into which may be the best for you has a lot to do with personal preferences. With that being said, if I were to recommend a baseball bat to buy, the one I would suggest is actually the same one a lot of the pros use, the Marucci AP5 (Named after Albert Pujols). The AP5 Pro has great balance with a thick barrel to help drive those baseballs over the fence.

Taking care of your baseball bats is important if you want them to last, here are some tips on how to protect your new equipment:

Marucci AP5 Pro Model

Marucci AP5 Pro Model

How To Choose The Best Baseball Jersey

The opportunity to be able to play the game of baseball competitively is a privilege that not everyone has. To play baseball competitively you need to have a uniform that matches your teammates. You want this uniform to last all season through all of the diving stops and slides in the dirt.

What To Look For

There have been many instantly recognizable baseball jerseys throughout the history of the game. Many of the legendary designs have not changed much over the years. The New York Yankees still have their iconic pinstripe design adorning their uniforms that many baseball fans have come to enjoy across the world.

In order to have a uniform that can withstand the elements, it needs to be comfortable and be able to breathe well to allow for a hot day at the ballpark. Putting on your jersey should come with a sense of pride, you should be happy to go out there and represent your team and with the right jersey, you can be. So before you put your baseball uniform on, make sure it is washed clean after each use.

Commonly when playing baseball your jersey tends to get a bit dirty, whether that is grass stains or the dirt from a head first slide, it doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping it clean in between games; you don’t want to show up to the game already looking like you’ve been sliding into home all day. Some jerseys will hold up better over time through multiple washing cycles so it is important to find a jersey made out of durable materials.

There are many aspects to consider when shopping for a baseball jersey that you will be using for every baseball game that you play in. One of the most important factors I would say would be your comfort level. When you are in the middle of a game, the last thing you need is for your jersey to be irritating or bothering you, causing you to lose focus on the moment.

Recommendation For You – Holloway Men’s 221011 Baseball Jersey

If you need a comfortable baseball jersey that is durable enough to weather the elements then the Holloway Sportswear Ignie Baseball Jersey may be the one to go with. This jersey is made from polyester to help keep the jersey light and dry and features mesh armpit vents to help stay cool during the game. The plain design allows for you to get it custom made to suit you and your baseball team’s style.

Here is some more info regarding baseball jerseys and uniforms and the purposes they can serve:

Holloway Men's 221011 Baseball Jersey

Holloway Men’s 221011 Baseball Jersey

How To Choose The Best Baseball Movie

Baseball has a long and legendary history, with more stories being written literally every day. Over time some of those great stories have made their way into the movies and on our TV screens. A big part of becoming a sports fan comes from watching them on TV or in the movies.

Luckily for us baseball enthusiasts there have been many great baseball references in TV shows and baseball movies over the years and many more still being made. There are so many well regarded classic movies to select from no matter what genre of movie you are into. It doesn’t matter what your motion picture preferences are, there are movies for all age groups to enjoy.

What To Look For

If you like comedy movies, then ”Major League”,” A League Of Their Own” or either of the “Bad News Baseball” movies are great comical classics. The movie, “Benchwarmers” also has quite a few adult comedic moments all throughout. If you like funny TV shows with a baseball theme, the HBO show Eastbound & Down is a classic, although the show is definitely not for all ages.

Maybe you enjoy some heartwarming stories mixed in with some funny moments, if so “Bull Durham” and “Field Of Dreams” are two legendary baseball tales. Field Of Dreams is a well-known tale for many great reasons. MLB baseball recognized the popularity of the movie and even announced that an MLB game between the legendary New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will take place on August 13th, 2020 at the historic “Field Of Dreams” baseball field.

If you want a true story, ”Moneyball” may be the best. But “42” tells the amazing story of Jackie Robinson and his battles that he had to overcome on his quest to becoming one of the greatest baseball players in the long and storied history of baseball. “A League Of Their Own”, “Million Dollar Arm” and “The Rookie” are three more baseball movies based on a true story that you won’t want to miss.

No matter what, if you enjoy baseball and like to hear and see stories with baseball situations mixed in, there are plenty of great television shows and movies to pick from. You could spend a whole month watching a different baseball movie every day and still have something new to watch. With so many inspiring tales being told regarding the great game of baseball, it would be tough to watch them and not become a baseball fan.

Recommendation For You – The Sandlot (1993)

If I had to select my favorite baseball movie of all time I would have to go with The Sandlot from 1993. This movie had everything you want from a baseball movie as a young baseball fan, including the classic narrative style found commonly in movies in the 1990’s. The movie is recognized as an instant classic among those who have seen it and if you do not understand “You’re killin’ me Smalls!” from The Sandlot, then you are missing out!

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot (1993)

How To Choose The Best Baseball Book

Growing up, I was a big reader, but I never knew what to read next. Well the sports fan in me always drew me into reading about them as well. This led me to many great books and when I was done with one, it seemed like there were two or three more that I wanted to read next.

What To Look For

Thankfully there are many great sports authors out there that can write a great baseball story. Mike Lupica is the first name that comes to mind for me, I must have read at least 10 of his sports books as a kid. For young readers, there are plenty of great baseball books to dive into thanks to writers such as Mike Lupica and W.P. Kinsella who wrote the bestseller “Shoeless Joe”.

If you are an adult reader, you may want a different style than some of the books that are tailored to a younger audience. If this is you, then true stories are a great place to start. You can find many great tales of legends such as Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente detailing some of their struggles as a baseball player in a different culture.

Baseball is always adapting and analyzing ways to accomplish things more efficiently. This constant drive to improve has led to many improvements and innovations in the game of baseball. When it comes to baseball books, that same drive has continued.

With all of the fictional books that have been written, there are many non-fiction books as well. In a lot of these non-fiction books, you will find many great true historical tales being told. But there are also many other books looking into the next new way or great innovation to come into the game of baseball, and reading them can make you a much more informed baseball fan and player.

Recommendation For You – Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

There are hundreds of great books to read but if you are looking for what to read next, I would recommend reading Moneyball: the Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Moneyball, if you aren’t already familiar, tells the incredible tale of the small time Oakland Athletics’ quest to beat the big market teams such as the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers. Later made into a movie, Moneyball is a truly inspiring tale for anyone who has had to work hard for what they want in life.

If you are looking for informative baseball books to help you improve, there are plenty of those as well. Here is a quick video with some book recommendations:

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

How To Choose The Best Baseball

Playing baseball brings a lot of joy to anyone who loves the game, but you can’t play unless you have a baseball of course. Having a baseball and keeping it are two very different things though. I know for myself, there have been many baseballs lost over the years due to various reasons.

What To Look For

Throughout all of those crushed and lost baseballs, one thing has always remained the same; the Rawlings Official Major League Baseball feels the most authentic. Knockoff baseballs are not able to match the softness of the outer shell that the authentic baseballs feature. The official baseballs also have a unique feel to them; a lot of the synthetic baseballs almost feel slippery or a bit like plastic.

Baseballs for the most part are made of either one of two materials, leather or synthetic. Baseballs, whether synthetic or leather, always have the same simple design.  The basics of it are just a small rounded ball with stitching along the baseball to be able to grip the ball and throw it accurately at high speeds.

Leather is what the official MLB baseballs are comprised of, but synthetic baseballs can serve a purpose too. Leather is built to last longer while offering a secure grip and consistent results. Synthetic covers are often made from vinyl and can resist dirt and retain their color and provide a nice cost alternative option to the real thing.

If you want to play baseball the same as the pros would, you want to use an official ball. Many players will use synthetic baseballs for practice simply because they are cheaper and will save the leather balls for game use. You can definitely practice with other balls to work on your swing, but if you are playing a game, you want the real thing.

Recommendation For You – Rawlings Official Major League Baseball

If you are just playing around in your backyard, using a cheaper synthetic baseball may be ideal for you. But if you are trying to practice fielding or fine-tuning your skills for a professional game, then I recommend using the Rawlings Official Major League Baseball. There is no other baseball in production that can replicate the authentic results from the MLB ball.

Here is a video showing the insides of a baseball and comparing the quality between a cheaper baseball and the Official MLB Baseball:

Rawlings Official Major League Baseball

Rawlings Official Major League Baseball

How To Choose The Best Baseball Pitching Machine

Do you want to practice on your game but don’t have a clone of yourself? Well, look no further than a baseball pitching machine! Pitching machines can be extremely helpful to improve your game when you don’t have a buddy to throw you pitches.

What To Look For

All professional teams use pitching machines for a number of reasons. By having a pitching machine on hand the batters are able to simulate a pitch coming at them without wearing out a pitcher’s arm. Being able to practice taking pitches at game speed is perhaps one of the best ways to improve your approach at the plate.

With most pitching machines, you can adjust the speed at which the ball comes out, this allows for players of all ages to be able to practice and improve their game. Some pitch machines can even simulate faster speeds than most players will ever face, this helps the batter prepare for high velocity pitches. Any player or team who is serious about getting better at baseball should definitely find a way to find some time to practice taking pitches from a pitch machine.

Just by having a pitch machine, you are able to practice many aspects of the game of baseball. With a pitch machine, you can practice fielding grounders, throwing runners out and of course hitting the ball. Perhaps that is why people say having a pitch machine is like having an extra coach around.

Whether you are looking to improve your hitting or your fielding, getting a pitch machine is crucial to realizing your true potential. When deciding on a pitch machine, it is important to realize what type of machine you are after. Selecting your ideal pitch machine has a lot to do with age group and budget.

Be careful if you are using a pitch machine for the first time. It may be better to watch someone who has extensive experience working with a pitching machine before you take a crack at one. If you are not careful, you could do serious harm to yourself, and possibly make you anxious about facing live pitching.

Recommendation For You – BATA-2 Combo Pitching Machine

There are many great beginner pitch machines that will pitch up to 60-70 MPH and there are others that are tuned more for the pros and can go up to 100 MPH. If money is no object then certainly the Bata- 2 Two-Wheel Curveball Pitching Machine should do the trick. This machine is great as it can throw any kind of pitch, including the Knuckleball and even comes with a 10-year warranty.

Here is a helpful video on how a pitch machine can help you improve your swing:

BATA-2 Combo Pitching Machine

BATA-2 Combo Pitching Machine

How To Choose The Best Batting Helmet

When it comes to playing sports, first and foremost the idea is to have fun. But most importantly, you want to play with safety in mind. The old saying goes” It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt”.

In baseball, safety is extremely important. If you are not careful and attentive at the ballpark, you could get hurt. While baseball is a great sport for all ages, you need to be aware of the potential dangers of being at the ballpark such as a baseball hit your way that you may not have seen.

What To Look For

One of the best ways to avoid head injuries in baseball is by wearing an approved batting helmet. There is no other sport that features a hard ball coming straight at you at speeds upward of 60 MPH and so wearing the proper headgear becomes more important than ever. You should never step into a batter’s box without a hard helmet on your head.

Batting helmets have really undergone a lot of changes over the years, far apart from when batting helmets first debuted back in the 1900’s. In 1941, the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first team to require their batters to wear a batting helmet during games. Somehow safety had gone overlooked until 1958 when it became mandatory for all hitters to wear a batting helmet; it took a very unfortunate incident to make the change popular and mandatory throughout the sport of baseball.

Thankfully, baseball has continued to evolve over the years and now offers a bevy of options available for hitters at every level to ensure their head is protected at all times. You should never get injured doing something you love, and if there is a way to avoid injuries at any cost, then those actions must be taken immediately. Today in baseball, we see a lot of different styling to batting helmets such as the double earflaps or protective face guards.

Luckily, there are still many great styling options available, even on the safest helmets. Some helmets offer different gloss or sheen options to make them appear to have more shine than others. While some offer a multi-color approach to make your helmet stand out in the batter’s box.

Ultimately when it comes to recommending the best batting helmet to go with, it is simple for me. Go with what works! Seriously though, to me your safety is of the utmost importance on the field, it is not about looking cool or stylish.

Recommendation For You – Rawlings Mach Carbon Batting helmet

My personal recommendation for the best batting helmet would have to be the Rawlings Mach Carbon Batting Helmet. What I like about this helmet is of course the amount of cushion and protection the helmet offers while giving the option to add protective face gear with pre-drilled holes. The helmet is sleek and stylish while offering ventilation ports to keep your head cool, even when the umpire thinks that ball was a strike.

When selecting a helmet, it is important that you find one that fits snug and comfortably on your head.  It will be helpful to know the size of your head when shopping; there are many head measurement and size guides to help align your head with the appropriately sized helmet.  You want a helmet that stays on your head and will not fall off when running.

Generally when you pick a helmet, you want it to last all season, so you need it to be durable. Make sure you select the helmet that offers the best protection for you and your hitting style. If you tend to crowd the plate, or like to talk smack, get yourself some protection!

If you have ever seen the play that ended Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett’s career, you will understand why I feel that you can never take things too safely.

Rawlings Mach Carbon Baseball Batting Helmet

Rawlings Mach Carbon Baseball Batting Helmet

How To Choose The Best Batting Gloves

In order to play baseball in the elements, you need to have a good, reliable pair of batting gloves. Now, you could go really old school and go without them like Vladimir Guerrero did but it is not recommended when starting out. Nearly all of the pro players today prefer to wear baseball gloves and no it is not just because it helps them look cool in the batter’s box.

What To Look For

But let’s be honest for a second, some batting gloves are really cool. Just like any popular sport, there will always be a lot of customization available to the players. Many players like to set themselves apart from the crowd by being unique and one of the ways this can be achieved is by having a customized pair of batting gloves.

Besides looking cool, wearing batting gloves can help reduce the sting the bat leaves behind in your hands when you make contact with the pitch. Wearing gloves can also drastically improve your grip to make sure the bat does not leave your hands on a wet, slippery day at the ballpark. By maintaining control of your bat, it will help you adjust to the pitch and should lead to more quality at bats where you make good contact on the ball.

Fortunately batting gloves come in all shapes, sizes and colors these days. Finding a comfortable pair of batting gloves can make all the difference in the world when it comes to adjusting on the fly when the pitch is coming to the plate. Gloves also provide some cushion on your hands and can help prevent blisters and calluses from building up on your hands over time.

Whether on TV or in person, I’m sure by now we have all seen when a batter swings his bat and cannot control it. This leads to flying bats. Wearing batting gloves will greatly increase your grip and hopefully you will be able to avoid any future situations in which your bat may go flying towards some unsuspecting fans or teammates.

The last thing you need is for your bat to hit someone when everyone is just supposed to be having a good time. Besides, what if your bat were to hit a coach or umpire? If that unfortunate situation were to occur, you may not be getting another at bat for a while.

As you can imagine, having the proper batting gloves that fit you comfortably are important. Not to mention the added benefits that wearing gloves can have upon your swing tendencies. If you will be swinging a bat, I recommend looking into your own pair of batting gloves for many of the reasons listed above.

Recommendation For You – Franklin Sports MLB CFX Pro Batting Gloves

There are many great batting gloves available on the market today but if I had to choose one pair that stands out above the rest, I would go with the Franklin CFX Pro. They are fully customizable and have a comfortable fit with great breathability. They also offer a pair for games that are played in colder temperatures that offer more protection from the elements.

Here is an instructional video on how batting gloves can help you and your game:

Franklin Sports MLB CFX Pro Batting Gloves

Franklin Sports MLB CFX Pro Batting Gloves

How To Choose The Best Baseball Training Equipment

Baseball has proven to be one of the toughest sports to pick up and play as a beginner. The thought that even the best hitters of all time only succeed about three out of every ten chances is incredible. That means this sport is largely about failure and anytime you get on base, you did a great job.

What To Look For

Since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, no other hitter has ever even succeeded 4 out of every 10 chances they get for a full season. But that was way back in 1941, aren’t baseball players only getting better with time? Well yes they are, but pitchers are also getting better too, to put it simply, consistently hitting a baseball is not easy.

The main goal of the sport is to hit a small round ball of which is 3 inches long and moves at speeds upward of 100 MPH with the sweet spot (about 2.75 inches) of a round bat. The simple concept of that alone is mind-blowing, as you are not even allowed to travel at speeds of 100 mph in a vehicle without facing serious trouble. Yet some human beings are able to crush this little white “pill” about 500 feet out into the atmosphere.

These complications are why many people consider hitting a baseball to be the toughest thing to do in sports. Even one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Jordan could not find a way to succeed in baseball. Still, even getting to the minor leagues is an incredible accomplishment for the average human being, but Michael Jordan was not average.

With all that being said, baseball is very fun to play and a quick game can be played without much equipment being needed. If you are serious about playing baseball competitively there are many very helpful pieces of training equipment that can be acquired. Whether you want to improve your pitching, fielding or hitting, there is a piece of equipment made to help you improve your skills on the baseball field.

Since hitting is so hard to do, placing your focus on being able to make solid contact is a great place to start. If you want to practice your swing or even just practice crushing baseballs then there are many different training options from which to choose. From batting nets to pitch machines and swing helpers, there are many options that will improve your game.

If you are just starting out or struggle to keep your eye on the ball, a simple batting tee can go a long way towards improving your swing. This will help you develop great hand-eye coordination and help give you a better idea on where to make contact with the ball. Don’t feel like you are ever too old to use a tee, as some pros still use batting tees to refine their swing every day.

Recommendations For YouTanner Tee

One piece of equipment that I really like to help improve your swing is the SwingRail. The SwingRail is affordable and effective but what I like about it most is that it provides constant swing feedback and gives the hitter a much better idea on how well they are swinging the bat. SwingRail can be used anywhere you can swing a bat and can be used for all ages.

Playing defense in baseball is considered one of the easier things to do in the sport. Learning the proper techniques can take time, but once mastered, you will feel much more confident when a ball is hit your way. There are many great techniques and training programs made to help you improve your skills in the field.

I like the Rawlings Reactball as an affordable and great fielding aid. The ball looks and feels like a normal baseball, but this Reactball is designed to bounce irregularly and will help simulate the unpredictable hops and bounces of a baseball. Practicing your reactions to some of the most unique bounces will help you train for when the unimaginable happens out on the baseball diamond.

Next up, we will look at some methods to help you become a better pitcher on the mound. While you may not be able to throw 105 MPH right away like Aroldis Chapman worked his way up to in 2011, believe it or not, you can still improve your pitch velocity as your career goes on. Even pro baseball players find some extra velocity on their pitches after years of practicing and improving their game.

Mastering the art of pitching is a lifelong battle. Most athletes agree, if you consider yourself to be a pitcher, you will always be a pitcher at heart and will always seek to improve your craft. Even Major League baseball players find themselves tweaking their delivery or pitching motion throughout the season.

Refining your craft will always be a part of your life as a pitcher. One great thing about baseball and pitching is that it is humanly possible to continue to pitch effectively even as you approach your 40’s. Satchel Paige, the oldest pitcher to ever pitch in the Major League at 59 years and 351 days old, didn’t make his Major League debut until he was 42 years old and still left a lasting legacy as one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

You can work on your pitching skills in a wide variety of ways such as weighted baseballs, strike zone pitching nets, clocking your pitch speed with a radar gun and many others. If you are trying to master your pitch selection, having a baseball that has pre-marked finger placement can be really helpful to learn how to throw a variety of pitches. If you can find a way to have a combination of these tools, you should be well on your way to becoming a much better pitcher.

It all depends on where you feel you need the most help as a pitcher. If you need to work on your control, I would recommend the pitching nets with the pre-marked strike zone to practice your aim when pitching. If you would like to learn how to throw more than one pitch, the balls with the recommended finger placement on them would be most helpful.

If your energy or strength are lacking, then you may need to improve your fitness level. You can do that by becoming more physically fit by running more or lifting some weights. If you feel that your pitching mechanics are not consistent, maybe look into the Head Coach Throw Better Training tool.

As you can see, there are many different methods that can be practiced to get better at pitching. By using any of these tools frequently, as long as they are being used correctly, you should have no problems improving your performance on the pitching mound. If you can find a way to combine some of these tools and drills and do them over a long period of time, you should see much more consistency in your pitches.

There are many ways to improve your baseball skills day by day. One thing that you can do to improve your performance on the field is to take care of your body. By eating healthy and staying in shape by doing a lot of cardio you will find yourself in a much better position to score the go ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.

You can do many everyday things to reach your potential like lifting weights or doing pushups to improve your strength. Despite popular belief, all your hitting strength is not derived only from your arm muscles. Many people believe having big arms is the key to hitting home runs, but many professionals will stress  things such as hand-eye coordination, quick hands/wrists and developing core strength can all lead to more pop at the plate.

There are tons of pieces of training equipment that will lead to improvement on the baseball diamond, but some of the most simple and oldest training methods can still help you get better at the game. Simple things such as practicing hitting a ball off a tee or a batting net to hit balls into can make a world of a difference on game day. No matter what your approach is, doing some form of training drills every day will help you develop your baseball skills and should lead to more production at the plate.

Here is a helpful video with some drills you can do in your backyard every day to improve your baseball skills:

TANNER TEE

TANNER TEE

How To Choose The Best Balls and Bats for Beginners

When you are just starting out, or maybe in the beginning stages of playing baseball, you may be better off starting out with some beginners training equipment. Luckily there are many baseball tools being made for all ages and sizes. Baseball has become so popular all around the world, so having the proper equipment for the players of all ages is important.

What To Look For

One of the first things to determine when selecting a good bat to start out with is which bat size would be appropriate for your stature. Here is another helpful bat sizing chart to help get you started. The idea here is that if you are using a bat too big, you won’t be able to effectively swing the ball properly to generate the best swing on the ball.

By having the correct bat size, you will find that you are able to make good contact on the baseball more frequently. That doesn’t mean you can’t still experiment with some different bats or bat sizes, these are just general recommendations from the experienced professionals with years of expertise in the game. Many pro ballplayers will still experiment with temporarily using another bat if they are going through a batting slump.

Another key component to keep in mind is what kind of bat are you looking to use? If you are looking to practice to get ready to play in a league, knowing their rules for which bats are allowed will be key.  For younger players looking to get into baseball using a wood bat, I would recommend the Sam Bat Youth LL CD1 Maple Baseball Bat for its ease of use.

Recommendation For You – Louisville Slugger Omaha 518 And  SKLZ Soft Cushioned Safety Baseballs 

If you are looking to hit with something other than a wooden bat to start out or maybe just have some fun hitting baseballs a long way, there are still plenty of other great bats out there. The Louisville Slugger Omaha 518 is a great beginner’s bat that comes in many sizes and complies with most youth baseball regulations. The bat is constructed of a durable alloy material combined with synthetic leather grips to help you maintain control.

For beginner baseballs, you do not need to go out and spend full price on MLB baseballs. Regulation baseballs are much tougher and can really hurt if someone is not prepared. Yes, it may be good to have one around to be able to practice with and to feel the difference, but practicing with a more affordable baseball may be more practical when starting out.

The SKLZ Soft Cushioned Safety Baseballs come in a 2 pack and offers a great beginners baseball for younger players that want to get started in baseball. This is the ideal baseball for a younger player, what I really like about it is the fact that it is cushioned. These cushioned baseballs should help make sure that nobody is afraid of the ball when it is coming their way.

For more help on how to choose a youth baseball bat here is a helpful video:

SAM BAT CD1 Maple Wood Baseball Bat

SAM BAT CD1 Maple Wood Baseball Bat

SKLZ Soft Cushioned Safety Baseballs

SKLZ Soft Cushioned Safety Baseballs

How To Choose The Best Baseball Bags

Baseball is just like all the other sports in that you need a lot of equipment to play from day-to-day. You could not possibly carry your bat, your cleats, your glove and your uniform and more all in your hands, could you? You can make things much easier on yourself by investing into one of the best ways to transport all of that equipment, a baseball bag.

What To Look For

While you may not be able to remember to pack everything you need for a baseball game every time you play, we understand, you are human. But there may be another way. The best way to stay prepared is by having a baseball bag with equipment all packed up and ready to go, should the opportunity arise.

When shopping for a baseball bag, you can have some fun with it. There is not much to specifically look for other than functionality. You want to make sure that carrying all of your baseball equipment is a breeze.

There are many baseball equipment items that you can fit in an average baseball bag. Some of the moree obvious items would be things such as your baseball glove, batting gloves, baseballs and baseball socks. But there are many other helpful things to keep in your bag that you could not possibly otherwise carry on your own.

Be careful not to over pack your baseball bag. You do not want to make the bag too heavy where carrying it to and from baseball games and practice events will become a challenge. You will want to save all your energy for when you hit the baseball field!

Recommendation For You – Athletico Youth Baseball Backpack

There are many different styles and variations of baseball bags available on the market today. To make things easier, I can recommend what I would go with to make your life easier. The Athletico Baseball Bag is perfect for transporting all of your equipment, including bats, with you wherever you go.

The Athletico bag is an awesome all-in-one baseball bag that can carry your cleats, helmet, bats, gloves and much more. The durable and breathable material is designed to help prevent contents such as your cleats from smelling too bad. The backpack is light and has a padded back panel for additional comfort.

This video gives an inside look into what a professional ballplayer keeps in his baseball bag:

Athletico Youth Baseball Backpack

Athletico Youth Baseball Backpack

Conclusion

Hopefully now you have a greater understanding of some of the many different options available that you can use to greatly improve your baseball skills.

My recommendations are just a small fraction of the great baseball products out on the market today.

Thankfully, baseball and the enthusiasts involved are always coming up with new innovations to continue to improve the next generation of baseball players.

With baseball being such an old sport, there have been countless amounts of methods, products, tips and drills developed over the 100+ years that the game has been around.

We are lucky as a society to have so many other baseball enthusiasts spread all across the world that are working tirelessly for the game to improve, even if it is in a small and subtle way.

Hopefully baseball will still be around for another 100+ years, who knows what the next great innovation in baseball will be and where it will come from?

There is so much great baseball equipment available on the market today that it can be hard to determine which equipment is the best for you.

I hope that by now I have cleared up a lot of the confusion when it comes to making purchase decisions for all of your baseball and softball equipment needs.

Now it is time for you to get out on the diamond and put all of this helpful baseball equipment to good use.

Buying Guide For Best Portable Outdoor Basketball Hoop Reviews In 2022

best outdoor basketball hoop

The hoop is by far the most iconic piece of basketball equipment. If you’re ever looking to play, just start shooting on one and sooner or later, someone will join you. Before you know it, you have a 3 on 3 or a 5 on 5 going.

Your Guide

Edis Hajlovac   Edis Hajlovac

Finding a hoop to play on is much easier than picking one out for yourself. You may have already decided to buy your own hoop so you don’t have to rely on any outdoor or indoor courts when you want to get some practice in.

If so, you may have seen that there are way more options out there than you were probably expecting.

This abundance of choice can easily overwhelm us when we are trying to make any decision, whether it is buying a basketball hoop or picking out a new brand of cereal when your favorite is out of stock.

We’ll try to bring some order into the chaos that an abundance of choice can create, so we have divided this guide on picking the best basketball hoop into several categories that are first going to help you find the best type of hoop for yourself, followed by a recommendation for a specific model.

Since we are trying to make this guide as comprehensive as possible, some of the categories will be oriented towards serious play, and some will be oriented towards hoops that are designed more for entertainment rather than anything else.

For every category, we’re going to list and explain the key things you should base your selection on and evaluate the pros and cons of each specific type of hoop so that you can make an informed decision on what type of basketball hoop is the best for filling your needs.

We should mention that there are some general characteristics or features that are important to consider with any type of basketball hoop.

We will be covering these over the course of the guide alongside the more type-specific characteristics and features for a more complete insight.

Once that foundation is set, we will give our top pick for each category based on research and personal experience.

Don’t worry, even if you don’t like our recommended product in your favorite category, you should leave with more than enough knowledge to make an informed choice on your own.

How To choose The best Portable Basketball Hoop

While it would be awesome to have a basketball court in your backyard, it is a fact of life that very few people actually have the space around their house for anything close to that. That means that many of us have to make the most out of the often limited space that we do have.

This is where portable hoops come in as they allow you to turn regular areas of your front or back yard into an improvised basketball court. The way these hoops are constructed allows you to relatively easily move them around, set them up where needed, and return them to storage when you’re done.

They are generally a great choice for people without the means or the space to set up a more permanent basketball hoop such as a mounted on an in-ground one. That is not to say that they can’t act as a part of a dedicated basketball court, but they’re not necessarily the best option in that case.

The two most important things specific to portable hoops you should consider when purchasing a portable hoop are the support pole and the base of the hoop. We will examine them in more detail in the following segment.

What To Look For

Let’s start with the defining feature of a portable basketball hoop, its base. The bases of these hoops are what keeps them upright and what allows them to be moved relatively easily from one place to another. How is this accomplished?

The base itself will almost never be a solid object. It will instead be designed to be weighed down with external weights, or more commonly, filled with sand or water. So, which of the two is likely the right choice for you?

I’ve seen portable hoops with external weights used mostly on outdoor tournaments. The word “portable” is being kind of stretched here as these hoops usually have large constructions that take up a lot of space and need a lot of external weight (easily more than 400 lbs.) to be properly stabilized.

The good thing about these hoops in my experience is that they do a great job of replicating the feel and the performance of an actual gym hoop. For an average user, however, they are simply too impractical because of their size, weight, and high price compared to the alternatives.

The bases that need to be filled can usually be filled with sand and/or water as we’ve mentioned already, but sand may provide better stabilization as it is around 75% heavier than water in the same volume. The bad thing about using sand is that it can be awkward to properly fill the whole base with it.

That is on top of mentioning that most people aren’t going to have a few hundred pounds of sand lying around their house. This brings us to using water, a much more accessible alternative. At the price of somewhat lower stabilization, water makes it much easier to fill the whole base quickly.

The instructions that should come with your hoop will tell you how much weight is needed to provide optimal stability, and that will help you decide which material to use. There should also be a way to quickly empty the base so you can move the hoop back into storage when you’re done.

One final note on base stability has to do with the shape of the base. A good rule of thumb is that the base should have a shape relatively close to a square when looked at from above. This balanced shape should prevent the hoop from being more susceptible to instability along one axis.

In order to make the moving process easier, many bases will feature at least a pair of wheels to make moving the hoop around easier, so it might be a good idea to find a base like that if you don’t want to spend more time moving the hoop than playing on it.

Let’s move onto the pole. Most poles should be made out of metal and be either round or square, but the truth is that the shape doesn’t really matter all that much in terms of performance. What matters more is the thickness of the pole.

A good rule of thumb is that thicker poles are generally going to be the more stable poles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should go for the thickest pole you find. More metal means more weight, and more weight means harder to move around, so try to find a good middle ground.

Whatever you do, do your best to avoid super thin poles as they will severely impact the stability of your hoop when the ball hits the rim or the backboard, and no amount of weight in the base will be able to compensate for it.

Stability is super important for portable hoops, but there are limits. While the tips in this segment will help you pick the most stable hoop, don’t expect gym hoop-level stability as you will never have it with portable ones. This is perfectly fine, and you will still get plenty of quality practice on your new hoop.

Some poles will allow you to easily adjust the height of the rim while others will have the rim on a fixed height. If you’re buying a hoop for your little kid, you might want to invest in an adjustable one so they can practice on a shorter hoop, and you can easily lift it to the regulation 10’ when the time comes.

Recommendation For You – Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

The portable hoop I’m choosing to recommend is the Spalding Hybrid portable hoop with a 60’’ acrylic backboard (there is also a 54’’ version). The reason why I’ve decided to choose this particular hoop is simple, Spalding did nearly everything right when it comes to the design on the hoop.

For starters, it has a good, wide base, and the angle of the support pole offers some extra stability. The base is meant to be filled with sand in one part and water in the other, hence the “hybrid” in the name. There are two wheels in the front of the base for easier movement.

The 60’’ acrylic backboard will let you practice a wide range of layups and bank shots, while a good breakaway rim will provide realistic rebounding angles. The height of the rim can be adjusted from 7.5 to 10 feet with an easy-to-use lever in the back that can be removed to prevent any tampering.

There is some good offset behind the backboard that will give you some extra security when practicing layups or driving along the baseline, and the overall quality of the product is impressive for a portable hoop.

These are some of the main qualities that have drawn me to this particular hoop and if you’d like to hear a bit more about what it offers, I’d recommend this great video review which goes over some of the finer details and the feel of playing on this hoop.

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

How To Choose The Best In Ground Basketball Hoop 

Those of you with the space and the resources to make a dedicated basketball court in your yard might want to consider investing in an in-ground basketball hoop. As the name suggests, this hoop is designed to be permanently buried into the ground as a part of a court.

A few years ago I made several trips to Lithuania, probably the most basketball-loving nation in the world. The number of public courts in the cities in Vilnius and Kaunas didn’t surprise me, but the number of people who built courts in their yards was absolutely off the charts.

They went all out, not only with the hoops (most of which were high quality products), but with the surface of the court, the accurate lines on it, everything. Many professional 3×3 tournament organizers wouldn’t have been ashamed of hosting an official tournament on many of those courts.

Having your own dedicated basketball court is the ultimate way to practice, and it is no wonder why Lithuania has such a staggeringly high number of great players for such a small nation. Getting a good in-ground hoop is the first step toward building your own court, so let’s see how to pick a good one.

What To Look For

The defining feature of in-ground hoops is that they need to be built with a dug-in concrete base. This will require digging a hole the size of which will be outlined in the instructions that come with the hoop. The hole is not usually very large in terms of surface area, but it can easily be deeper than 40’’.

Some people like to dig a bit deeper and steel rebar is usually added to reinforce the concrete. The sheer volume of the hole needed for a base means that you should be ready to secure quite a bit of concrete before you start building your hoop, as many as 80 or 90 lbs. in some cases.

Before you even start digging, however, make sure that you won’t accidentally take out the cable for your entire neighborhood or damage some other utility line. You’d be surprised how many utility lines can run underneath your yard, and damaging one can be both very dangerous and very expensive.

The best way to avoid this is to check with the local utility companies if there are any lines running underneath your yard and how to avoid them. In some countries, there are also dedicated numbers you can call that can give you this kind of information for all types of utilities.

Once you’ve dug the hole and filled it with concrete, it is time to “plant” your hoop. This can be done in one of two ways – directly or via an anchor. I’ll now explain the differences but, spoiler alert, the anchor is by far the superior method.

Cheaper hoops are usually designed so that the support pole is inserted directly into the concrete. This means that you will have to insert the hoop perfectly on your first attempt if you want it to be perfectly upright and don’t want to end up with a tilted hoop, which is next to useless.

Even if you manage to insert the hoop into the concrete perfectly vertically, you will have to improvise a way to keep it in that position until the concrete hardens. This is not an easy task given that some hoops can weigh more than 300 lbs. which is a lot of weight to perfectly fix in place.

More expensive hoops usually feature an anchor that looks similar to this. The prongs on the bottom are supposed to be inserted into the concrete until the flat surface touches the concrete. The support pole is then fixed to the anchor via special bolts.

Even if you don’t insert the anchor perfectly parallel to the ground, you can still control the angle of the hoop by adjusting the nuts on the anchor bolts and end up with a perfectly vertical hoop. I definitely recommend getting a hoop with an anchor if you can spare a bit of extra cash.

Since the hoop is dug into the ground, it will be very stable, and accidentally hitting the support pole can be very painful or even dangerous. When buying your hoop, it would be prudent to ensure that the support pole comes with some protective padding and that there is enough offset.

Offset will be explained in more detail later on in the guide, but when it comes to padding, it is extremely important as you don’t want to accidentally run full speed into an exposed thick metal pole. If there isn’t any padding on the pole by default, you might want to buy some and add it on your own.

Recommendation For You – Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

In-ground hoops can easily cost as much as $2.000 in some cases. With that in mind, I have chosen to recommend a hoop that strikes a great balance between what you get and what you pay for this category.

The model in question is Ironclad Sports’ Game Changer with a 60’’ backboard, and here’s why. Starting from the bottom, it has the kind of anchoring system that I already wrote about in the previous segment. The support pole is wide and it comes with a lot of padding for great security.

The height of the rim can be easily adjusted from 7.5’ to 10’ via a crank in the back of the pole. What I like the most about this hoop are the backboard and the rim. The backboard is made out of tempered glass, which is the material you will see in professional-level hoops.

There is also padding along the edges of the backboard, and that padding is one of those things you never knew you needed until you actually need it as it can protect your hands from injury if you hit the sharp edges of the backboard.

The breakaway rim is bolted directly onto the support pole for added security and it will endure dunking without any problems. The manufacturer is so sure of this that they often a lifetime warranty which includes dunking and hanging.

Overall, the hoop is probably a great choice for you is you’re looking for a versatile and durable hoop, and you are ready to pay for quality but don’t want to absolutely break the bank. If you’d like to see the hoop up close and in great detail, here is a great video that will let you do just that.

Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

How To Choose The Best Wall Mounted Basketball Hoop 

Wall-mounted hoops aren’t going to have any kind of support pole or base because they are designed to use a wall as their base. This makes them very stable, and a great option for those who can’t set up an in-ground hoop and don’t find portable hoops practical.

You should keep in mind that this design can make them somewhat limited in terms of what you can do with them. Shooting practice will go just fine with these hoops, but playing games or practicing aggressive layups can be made difficult or even dangerous by the wall behind the backboard.

With portable and in-ground hoops, the support pole and/or the base can generally be easily avoided when going for a layup or driving underneath it, but with wall-mounted hoops, a single relatively thin pole is replaced with a wide wall that is impossible to avoid.

If shooting or regular layups are the only things you want to practice, then even a cheap mounted hoop might be just what you need. But if you want to do more than that and still insist on getting a wall-mounted hoop, there are options out there, but they will cost you.

What To Look For

We have already briefly touched on the issue of the space behind the backboard and what awaits you there. Cheaper hoops usually won’t have much space, while the more expensive ones will often have several feet of space for added versatility. With that being said, let’s move onto the specifics.

The first thing you need to decide when going for a wall-mounted hoop is where you’re going to place it. You will need a sturdy wall that will support the weight of the hoop and that you don’t have a problem with drilling into.

Lighter hoops will often be designed so that the backboard holders are bolted directly to the wall, while the heavier ones will often have an anchoring frame that is bolted onto the wall to help support the weight of the backboard.

One important note in terms of placement is to make sure that there isn’t any kind of roof or balcony that extends immediately above the edge of the backboard as this will make the hoop awkward to use and might damage your ball if it hits the edge of whatever is extending over the backboard.

Setting your hoop at the right height is incredibly important. An improperly installed hoop can destroy your experience of playing on it, so make sure to pay great attention to the instructions that come with the hoop.

Some hoops come with anchor railings that allow you to make slight adjustments up or down in order to compensate for imperfect installation, but it’s best to just get it right the first time. If you don’t want to take risks and can spare some extra cash, it might be a good idea to pay for professional installation.

There isn’t really that much else to speak of that is specific to wall-mounted hoops, and the broader general concepts will be covered in the segments on the best indoor and outdoor hoops. I suggest you pay special attention to offset, one of the said concepts and the Achilles’ heel of many mounted hoops.

All things considered, wall-mounted hoops usually offer great stability and they can be a great option for users willing to embrace their inherent limitations. If practicing shooting is your main concern, then a wall-mounted hoop might be the best option for you.

Recommendation For You – Goalsetter Adjustable Glass Backboard

The specific hoop I have chosen to recommend for this category is the Goalsetter GS72 Wall Mounted Adjustable basketball hoop. In my opinion, it makes the best of the characteristics of the wall-mounted design and does a decent job of addressing some of its shortcomings.

The defining feature of this hoop is the regulation size (72’’) tempered glass backboard that works with an enclosed breakaway rim to offer performance similar to that of actual gym hoops. The downside of a 72’’ tempered glass backboard is that it is quite heavy, so you’ll need a sturdy wall to mount it.

This kind of setup means that you’ll be able to have very realistic shooting practices on this hoop, but it is more than a mere shooting goal. In the previous segment, I mentioned that the problem of not having enough space behind the backboard plagues many wall-mounted hoops.

This hoop does a decent job of mitigating that issue as it has almost 3’ of space between the backboard and the wall. This is probably enough for most people to play regular games on or practice fancy layups without fearing that they will hit a wall.

Some other noteworthy features include rim height adjustment between 6’ and 10’ so that kids or younger siblings can use the hoop easier and an anchor mounting system for easier installation onto a wall.

Overall, this hoop is probably the right choice for you if you’re someone who wants a wall-mounted hoop they can play or practice a variety of things on and that can offer near gym-like performance, but don’t mind the extra weight or the cost of a regulation-sized tempered glass backboard.

Goalsetter Adjustable Glass Backboard

Goalsetter Adjustable Glass Backboard

How To Choose the Best Outdoor Basketball Hoop 

Out of the three types of hoops covered so far, all three are primarily designed or viable for for outdoor use, although you will see high-end portable or wall-mounted hoops in gyms as well. I’ve played official games on both types of hoops, so they are definitely viable for competitive play.

So far, we have covered some features and characteristics unique to the individual type of hoops, so I’d like to use this segment to explain some concepts that are universally important for all outdoor hoops, as well as some general things you need to consider when buying a basketball hoop of any kind.

What To Look For

Any outdoor piece of hardware will unavoidably be exposed to the influences of the elements sooner or later, basketball hoops included. Whether it is rain that can lead to corrosion or sunlight that can cause the paint or the decals to fade, the elements can take a heavy toll on your hoop.

So how do we prevent this? Since rust is a structural problem that could end up rendering your hoop unusable, we’ll start with that one. Many hoops will tout some kind of anti-rust protection in terms of various coatings on their metal surfaces i.e. most of the hoop’s actual parts.

These can range from special paints to special metal coatings or alloys that don’t rust. I definitely recommend getting a hoop with such protective measures, but if that is not an option, it might be a good idea to purchase anti-rust coating yourself and apply it to your hoop as it will prolong its life.

UV radiation which is present in sunlight can cause cosmetic problems in terms of your decals fading away or components changing color. Some hoops will feature protective measures against this as well, but they are not as important as anti-rust protection since you can easily reapply the decals yourself.

One more important thing to note regarding exposure to elements is the type of net present on your hoop. The two main types are nylon nets and chain nets. Nylon nets are the ones found in professional hoops and they make the incredibly satisfying “swish” sound when you sink a shot.

Chain nets are more often found on streetball hoops and they do a great job of not letting your ball go far when you hit a shot. However, the metal chain links can damage your ball, especially if you’re using a higher-end leather ball.

Heavier nylon nets can withstand the wrath of the elements for many years in my experience, while rust can become a problem for chain ones. Whatever you do, avoid the thin nylon nets that come with some cheaper hoops because you are lucky if they last a month in some cases.

My sincere recommendation is that you invest in a heavier nylon net because that kind of net will easily last several years. We put one such net up on our local public hoop four years ago and it still serves us well to this very day.

One final thing I want to cover is the shape of the backboard. You will find two main options – fan-shaped backboards and rectangular backboards.

Fan-shaped backboards are usually associated with streetball courts in the US. In terms of functionality, they will limit your ability to practice bank shots or fancy layups, so they’re probably not a good idea for you if you want to practice a wide variety of moves and shots on your hoop.

They will often be made out of lower-quality materials, such as plastic or plywood, and I have yet to encounter one made from high-end materials like tempered glass. This makes them the cheaper of the two alternatives.

Rectangular backboards are used on professional hoops and they will, depending on the size, allow you to practice virtually any kind of shot or move under the sun. In consumer-grade hoops, they can vary in size from 40’’ all the way up to the regulation 72’’.

If you want to have the most realistic experience, I recommend either the 60’’ or the 72’’ versions as they won’t limit your practice as the smaller backboards would. They can be made from low-end or high-end materials, so they will in most cases be the more expensive of the two alternatives.

Recommendation For You – Pro Dunk Platinum 72 Inch Glass Backboard

The recommended hoop for this category is the Pro Dunk Platinum with the 72’’ tempered glass backboard. In the eyes of many people, myself included, this is the best outdoor hoop on the market, and it’s not difficult to see why.

The anchoring system and a massive support pole offer great stability, and the abundant padding on the pole provides good protection. All of the metal components on the hoop have several layers of rust protection to ensure longevity.

We’ve already talked about the benefits of a full-sized tempered glass backboard and a breakaway rim, so we won’t repeat ourselves here. What should be mentioned, however, is that the rim can be lowered to a record height of 5.5’.

If you’re looking for the absolute top of the line product that will last you for many years and that comes as close as possible to the performance of gym hoops, this is probably the product for you.

Pro Dunk Platinum 72 Inch Glass Backboard

Pro Dunk Platinum 72 Inch Glass Backboard

How To Choose the Best Indoor Basketball Hoop 

Indoor hoops you find will come in one of three main variants – portable, wall-mounted, or ceiling-suspended. The word “portable” is used very loosely here since “portable” gym hoops will easily weigh more than 1.000 lbs.

Just like with the previous segment, I’d like to use this one to explain some concepts that are universally important for all indoor hoops, as well as some general things you need to consider when buying a basketball hoop of any kind.

What To Look For

Any hoop will have one of two types of rims – fixed or breakaway. As the name suggests, fixed rims are bolted onto the backboard or the support pole without any way to absorb the force of a dunk, which can lead to them easily breaking upon being dunked on.

Breakaway rims solve this problem with a “joint” and one or two springs that let the hoop better absorb such forces. When you see dunks in professional games, the rim will often “break” to a degree and snap back into position when the player releases it.

If you want a rim that can absorb the force of a dunk and provide the most realistic performance, go for a breakaway one. If these things are not important to you, then going for a fixed rim will satisfy your needs just fine and save you some cash in the process.

We have previously mentioned the importance of backboard materials. Now we will go into a bit more detail on the topic and help you decide which of the three options is the best fit for your needs and your budget.

Plastic is at the bottom of the backboard material totem pole as the quality of plastic backboards is generally poor and they don’t provide even remotely realistic performance. Acrylic is the middle-of-the-road backboard material with satisfactory performance.

I play pickup games two times a week in a gym with acrylic backboards and I am quite happy with their performance save for a few rare cases where I was surprised by the way the ball interacted with the backboard. Overall, they should be more than adequate for the average user.

Finally, we have the tempered glass backboard. That is the material used in professional hoops and it offers the best performance out of the three materials. If you want the most realistic performance out of your backboard for layups and bank shots, tempered glass is the right material for you.

One last consideration related to backboards is the offset. Simply put, it is the amount of space between the backboard and the support pole, and it is incredibly important when it comes to injury prevention. The lower the offset, the higher the chance of a player hitting the support pole or wall.

Professional hoops have a great amount of offset (up to almost 11’), whereas you’re lucky to get 3’ of offset with the consumer-grade hoops. A lack of offset has caused serious injuries even to professional players, so I sincerely hope that you will pay attention to offset when purchasing your new hoop.

Recommendation For You – Glass Spalding Arena

For this category, I have chosen to recommend a top of the line hoop that is fit for professional play. The model in question is Spalding’s Arena Portable Backstop. You’ll notice right away that the hoop looks quite similar to the hoops used in NBA or Euroleague games.

The performance is what you would expect from such a hoop, it features an enclosed breakaway rim and a regulation-sized tempered glass backboard. The padding on the base and the support pole and the backboard edges is superb, while nearly 11’ of offset means that it offers a high level of security.

There are a few extra features to make it easier to operate, such as a spring-assisted lifting mechanism. For official games, there is also a shot clock holder that can be bought separately. The hoop is fit for all levels of official play as it can be locked in at either 8’, 9’, or 10’.

It is a very heavy and very expensive piece of equipment, but if you’re someone looking to outfit their gym with high-quality equipment fit for official play, then this hoop is probably a good choice for you.

Glass Spalding Arena

Glass Spalding Arena

How To Choose The Best Pool Basketball Hoop

You may have seen at least one of those awesome pool dunk videos on YouTube or Facebook/Instagram because more than a few of them went viral over the last couple of years. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a great example. Looks pretty fun, right?

While attempting to recreate complex pool dunks like this is probably too dangerous to try at home, playing “basketball” in the pool is still an incredibly fun twist on the game and it is definitely worth a try if you ever get the chance.

I first got this opportunity two years ago when I was on a beach that had a floating hoop. The sea wasn’t calm and the waves were throwing the hoop all over the place so it wasn’t easy to hit a shot, but we had a blast regardless. For those of you with a pool, here’s how to find the best pool hoop.

What To Look For

Pool hoops come in two main variants – those that float and those set on the edge of the pool. Floating hoops can be placed anywhere on the surface of the pool and some can be fixed to the bottom with a rope. They allow for a 360-degree field of play around the hoop which allows for more players.

Two main problems with these hoops are the lack of a backboard and the fact that they can tip over very easily in some cases which means that you’ll have to stop the game to fix the hoop. Hoops that go on the edge of the pool are for all intents and purposes scaled-down versions of portable hoops.

They are made from lower-quality materials than regular portable hoops, usually plastic and aluminum, but that’s perfectly fine for hoops designed for fun rather than serious play. These hoops have backboards and some have an adjustable rim, just don’t expect a breakaway rim as well.

The backboard makes it somewhat easier to score on than the floating hoop, but their positioning means that you won’t have a 360-degree field of play to work with. There isn’t a strictly better of the two alternatives and it all comes down to your preference.

One more thing to keep in mind is that if your hoop has any metal parts, corrosion is going to become an issue sooner or later because of the treated pool water, even if the metal has anti-rust coatings. This means that you need to buy and periodically apply anti-rust protection on your own.

Recommendation For You – Dunnrite Splash Swimming Pool Hoop

My recommendation for this category is the Dunnrite Splash and Shoot Swimming Pool Basketball Hoop. It is a portable hoop that is placed on the edge of the pool and the base is filled with water or sand. The base has no wheels, but the hoop is small and light enough to not need wheels.

A plastic fan-shaped backboard will make scoring a bit easier and a steel rim will withstand dunking, although you shouldn’t hang on it or the entire hoop will tip over. You can adjust the height of the rim to fit the depth of your pool and make scoring more or less challenging if you want to.

There is a protective coating on the metal parts of the hoop, but don’t expect it to last indefinitely. My sincerest advice if you decide to go for this is to buy some kind of anti-rust spray or coating and apply it regularly.

Dunnrite Splash Swimming Pool Hoop

Dunnrite Splash Swimming Pool Hoop

How To Choose The Best Trampoline Basketball Hoop 

I used to love trampolines when I was a kid. By the time I found out that there are trampolines with basketball hoops attached, I was way past the load limitations of 99% of trampolines. Not only are there trampolines with hoops, but there is also an entire sport that revolves around the concept.

Obviously, the full-contact nature of that spot is not suitable for children, but trampoline hoops can be an amazing source of entertainment for anyone. Obviously, they’re not meant for serious practice and they won’t make you a better shooter, but you can get a lifetime worth of dunks in a single session.

What To Look For

With trampolines being an integral component, a few safety considerations should be made. Most trampolines use springs which are the source of a majority of trampoline-related injuries. There are alternatives that use special composite materials to create bounce if you want to avoid using springs.

The jumping surface of the trampoline is usually surrounded by a padded, yet harder, material which acts as a walking surface. You want to ensure that the padding on this surface is sufficient to absorb the impact of landing on it straight after bouncing.

Different trampolines will have different safety limitations which will most often be stated in terms of weight limitations. There shouldn’t be any problems regarding the number of kids that are using the trampoline at the same time as long as their combined weight doesn’t exceed the stated limit.

Any half-decent trampoline hoops will have a safety net around the trampoline that should be at least as high as the rim. This net can be held in place with a metal pole or other, softer materials. Softer materials make it harder to get injured as a result of hitting a pole, but metal is tougher.

Finally, you have the backboard. The backboard can be either solid (usually plastic) and held in place with a metal pole, or it can be flexible and hung on the safety net. The solid ones offer better durability when dunking, but the flexible ones make it harder to get hurt if you hit the backboard.

As you can see, there are many considerations and there are no setups that are strictly better or worse than any other setup because they all have different trade-offs and serve different niches. It’s up to you to use this information to determine what is the best setup for your needs.

Recommendation For You – Springfree Trampoline

I have chosen to emphasize the safety aspect of trampoline hoops with a recommendation for the Springfree Trampoline Basketball Hoop. This trampoline has a number of safety features that make it the safest trampoline hoop on the market.

For starters, the springs are replaced with flexible composite rods located below the jumping surface which protects the users from accidentally hitting them and provides the same level of bounce. There are also no hard edges near the jumping surface which offers further protection from injuries.

Keeping in line with the safety theme, the backboard is flexible and it is attached to the safety net itself without using any metal or other solid poles. The bottom metal frame of the trampoline offers great rust protection and many users have reported that the trampoline is extremely durable.

If you’re thinking of buying a trampoline hoop for your yard and safety is your primary concern, this is probably the right product for you. With a generous load limit of 220 lbs., you’ll likely be able to try it out for yourself and get in on the fun.

Springfree Trampoline

Springfree Trampoline

How To choose the Best Portable Basketball Hoop For a Driveway 

We have already dedicated a section of this guide specifically to choosing a portable basketball hoop. Many people are going to be using their hoop in their driveway as it is the likeliest place anyone will have a concrete surface in their yard.

With that in mind, we have decided to revisit the topic of portable hoops with a tighter focus on choosing a hoop specifically for use in a driveway. The following segment will aim to expand a bit on the already familiar concepts important for choosing a portable hoop.

What To Look For

When picking your new portable hoop to use in a driveway, the name of the game is mobility. You need to be able to move the hoop out of the way quickly if there is a car coming in to park. This means that you need to pay special attention to the base and the overall weight of the hoop.

Two things should be considered regarding the base. The first are the already mentioned wheels as they make moving the hoop around a LOT easier. The wheels are usually located in the front or in the rear of the base, and the front ones are a better option in my opinion.

The second thing regarding the base is how easy is it to eject the filling from the base, whether it is water or sand. There shouldn’t be problems if you’re using sandbags. If you’re using water, then you should look for a base with a plug that can let the water out without having to tilt the base.

The overall weight of the hoop also plays a role, the ticker the support pole and the larger your backboard, the heavier and less mobile your hoop will be. Sure, you want a stable hoop but you need it to be mobile as well, and sacrificing a bit of stability is an acceptable trade-off here.

You should also note that plastic and acrylic backboards are generally lighter than tempered glass ones. Finally, it would be ideal if you could find a hoop that lets you adjust the angle of the support pole if your driveway is not a flat surface, but this will be very difficult to find in most cases.

Recommendation For You – Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

The recommended product for this category is still the Spalding Hybrid Portable as I still feel it is one of the best portable hoops around, but there is one difference for this category. To reduce the weight, I suggest you go with the 54’’ acrylic backboard version instead of a 60’’ one.

When it comes to filling the base, I suggest using four 50-pound sandbags without any water as they should provide enough stability for playing, and you can quickly take them out once you need to move the hoop.

There are front-mounted wheels on the base of the hoop, so the 54’’ acrylic backboard version of this hoop checks pretty much all the major boxes when it comes to mobility and driveway use.

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ Backboard

How To choose The Best Adjustable basketball hoop

So far, we have mentioned the ability to adjust the height of the rim as a desirable feature of someone the hoops that were listed as the recommended products for their category. Having an adjustable hoop is necessary if you are buying it with the expectation that children will be practicing or playing on it.

Not all games are played on 10’ hoops, the smallest youth categories play on hoops as low as 6’. As such, it makes no sense to force kids to use 10’ hoops before they are physically ready to do so. Besides, having an adjustable hoop lets people who aren’t naturally tall or athletic enough throw down a dunk.

As you can see, getting an adjustable hoop makes sense for multiple reasons and we are going to dedicate the following segment to the most important things you need to know regarding adjustable hoops.

What To Look For

For starters, all kinds of hoops can be adjustable, whether they are portable, wall-mounted or in-ground. This height adjustment can be done in two main ways. The first is to physically bolt the backboard lower or higher on the support pole. This method is used only on very cheap hoops.

Even mid-range hoops will use some sort of crank or lever mechanism to facilitate the height adjustment. The adjustments may be done in fixed increments or freely. The most advanced hoops will be able to automatically lock in certain rim heights, but this is reserved mostly for pro-level hoops.

Most consumer-grade hoops will use a crank or a lever, both of which are perfectly viable systems and they are used on some of the hoops recommended in this guide. Depending on the quality of the construction of these mechanisms, the stability of the hoop may be impacted.

In my experience, crank-based mechanisms are somewhat superior to the lever-based ones because they let you adjust the height at will instead of in fixed increments and they are sturdier, thus having a smaller impact on the stability of the hoop.

Recommendation For You – Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

I will stick to my recommendation for the best in-ground hoop as the best overall adjustable hoop as well. The model in question was Ironclad Sports’ Game Changer with a 60’’ backboard. It features a crank-based height adjustment system.

This crank lets you adjust the height of the rim to anywhere between 7.5’ and 10’ in any kind of increments you wish. I have previously talked about the hoop’s features and I’d just like to reemphasize its high durability and great value for money as the two main factors that led me to pick it again.

Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

Ironclad Sports Game Changer GC55-LG

How to choose the best portable basketball hoop under $300 

Up to this point, most of the recommended serious hoops have been in the mid to high price range. While it is inevitable that quality comes at a price, I certainly understand the need for budget options and it would only be fair that we touch on the subject of budget portable hoops.

Compared to our previous recommendations, picking out a budget hoop is a question of what you’re willing to sacrifice to make it fit into your budget. I’ll do my best to explain how to get under your budget with the least possible sacrifice.

What To Look For

Before you start deciding what to sacrifice, you should first know what are the main requirements you have from a hoop.

Probably the easiest decision to make is whether or not you need an adjustable hoop. If you’re the only person who will be using the hoop, getting a hoop with the rim fixed at 10’ is probably a good way to save some money.

There are two main considerations to make when it comes to the backboard – the size and the material. The smaller the backboard, the cheaper it should be. 60’’ backboards will still allow for a variety of layups and bank shots, and I would avoid going under 54’’ if at all possible.

I would only recommend going for a smaller backboard if you want to practice nothing but pure shooting. In terms of materials, I am not at all a fan of polycarbonate, but it is the cheapest option. Acrylic is usually a good mix of price and performance, so I recommend it for budget purposes.

If you only want a hoop for pure shooting, you might as well go for maximum savings with polycarbonate. You should also expect the base and the support pole of budget hoops to be on the smaller side which could lead to somewhat decreased stability.

It is entirely possible to find budget hoops with breakaway rims but I wouldn’t count on those rims enduring any hanging or powerful dunks. Still, they are a good option for the more realistic rebounding they offer compared to fixed rims.

Last but not least are the material protections against rust and UV radiation. Don’t expect them to be great; it is always a good idea to buy some protective coatings and apply them yourself from time to time if you want to give your hoop the best possible protection.

Recommendation For You – Spalding NBA 54″ Acrylic

I was positively surprised by the features of some of the budget options, especially the model I chose to recommend for this category – The Spalding Pro Slam Portable.

It features a 54’’ acrylic backboard (there are variants with a polycarbonate backboard too) that should be just big enough to practice all but the most advanced layups and bank shots. Acrylic will offer good interaction with the ball and close to realistic rebounding performance.

The rim featured on the hoop is a breakaway one, although it is a lower-end breakaway rim that I don’t recommend forcefully dunking on, let alone hanging on. Still, it should do just fine when it comes to rebounding performance.

The base and the support pole are not big, but they offer acceptable stability for their size. The height of the rim can even be adjusted with a mechanism at the back of the pole. Overall, I am very impressed with the hoop given that it can be picked up for just a bit over $200.

If you’re looking for a budget hoop but don’t want to make major sacrifices in any of the aforementioned segments, this is probably a good option for you.

Spalding NBA 54" Acrylic

Spalding NBA 54″ Acrylic

How to choose the best toddler basketball hoop 

Every once in a while, a young prodigy comes along in a sport and blows everyone away with their level of skill, such as Luka Dončić is doing that in the NBA right now. When we talk about young prodigies, they don’t get much younger than trick shot Titus.

You may remember Titus from the viral videos (like this one) or TV shows where he showed off his shooting skills. Toy hoops can be a great source of entertainment for toddlers and they may even spark a love for the game basketball that stays with them for the rest of their lives.

A small toy hoop attached to one of the doors in my apartment with suction cups is one of the toys I have the fondest memories of from the time when I was a little kid, and I still have that hoop somewhere in my room, although I haven’t used it in nearly two decades.

What To Look For

With hoops for toddlers, you want to make sure that there are no small parts that might be a choking hazard and that the hoop itself is as light as possible without any sharp edges so that they don’t get hurt if the hoop falls on this.

Most decent hoops for toddlers will be made of light plastic with curved edges, so finding a safe hoop should be relatively easy. The two main types of hoops for toddlers are portable ones and mounted ones.

The former ones have bases that usually aren’t supposed to be filled with anything (but the option is still there) because the hoops are very light and not meant for dunking, while the latter ones are meant to be attached to a door via either sticky pads, hooks, or suction cups.

Some portable hoops are adjustable in height so you can increase the height of the rim as your child grows. I definitely recommend getting a hoop like this if possible simply because the hoop will able to “follow” the growth of your child.

The rims on these hoops are usually oversized to make scoring easier and you may or may not get a ball with your hoop. Some of these balls are a bit heavier or harder, so make sure there isn’t anything easily breakable behind the hoop.

Recommendation For You – Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

I definitely recommend portable hoops over mounted ones, and my recommendation for this category reflects that. The model in question is the Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set that comes with three balls.

It is made entirely out of light plastic and it has a base that can be filled with sand for added stability, but it can be used perfectly well without the added weight. The height of the rim can be adjusted between 2.5’ and 4’.

An oversized rim makes it easier to score baskets and a net ensures that the balls won’t go too far from the hoop. Overall, it is a very good hoop and great help in developing your toddler’s motor skills.

Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

How to choose the best kids basketball hoop 

Basketball hoops for kids are in many cases similar to hoops for toddlers, they are simply scaled up in size and constructed in a more solid matter. They represent a good bridge between hoops meant for entertainment and hoops meant for serious play.

Some of the hoops in this category may lean more towards one side or the other, but there are very good options available out there whatever your preference may be.

What To Look For

Since there are many similarities between hoops for toddlers and kids, we won’t be repeating the concepts that are the same. We will just list them and try to focus on the few differences between the hoops for the two age groups.

Just as with hoops for toddlers, there are portable and mounted options. Since some of the kids are already getting their first tastes of “serious” basketball, I recommend that you pick a hoop that is as close as possible to what they will be playing or practicing on.

Some of the major differences between the hoops for toddlers and kids are the materials and the bases of portable hoops. The hoops for toddlers are made almost exclusively from plastic, but hoops for older kids may contain metal parts.

In these cases, it is advisable to fill the base of the hoop with sand or water to make it more difficult for the hoop to tip over and injure the child or break something in the house. It is highly recommended that you get a hoop with an adjustable rim height for the same reason as with the hoops for toddlers.

Some hoops for kids will not need special balls and they will be designed to work with regular smaller basketballs that are used in youth games. This should be accounted for if you’re placing the hoop indoors because these balls can easily break something.

Recommendation For You – Lifetime 32 Youth Portable Basketball Hoop

My recommended hoop for this category will be a great successor to the hoop recommended for toddlers. The model in question is the Lifetime 32’’ Youth Portable Basketball Hoop.

The 10-gallon base should be filled with either sand or water to provide stability because the hoop features mostly metal parts. The support pole and the rim are both made out of metal resistant to rust and the weather, making this a good hoop for indoor or outdoor use.

The rim height can be adjusted between 5.5’ and 7.5’ in 6’’ increments, and a 32’’ plastic backboard will allow your kids to start learning and practicing layups and bank shots. It is a good idea to use an official miniature basketball (size 4 or 5) with this hoop because of its design and metal parts.

It is not very pricey and it will make for a great first “serious” hoop your kid will have. Many full-size hoops can be lowered to 7’ which means that this specific hoop will make a great bridge between toy hoops and the real thing.

Lifetime 32" Youth Portable Basketball Hoop

Lifetime 32 Youth Portable Basketball Hoop

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve reached the final chapter of this guide. We have covered virtually every type of hoop under the sun, both the serious ones and the not so serious ones, but all of them enable us to play the game we love in some way or another.

I sincerely hope that this guide has answered all the major questions you may have had about the factors you need to consider when buying a basketball hoop and that you have learned how to select the best basketball hoop for you.

In the future, there are probably going to be more detailed guides and reviews on specific types or models of basketball hoops, so this is definitely not the last time that we will visit the topic of hoops.

If you have a suggestion for a specific topic that I should cover, let me know in the comments below.

In the meantime, I hope that you will get plenty of fun and quality practice out of your new hoops and that they will serve you well for many years to come.

What was your favorite hoop on our list?

Did you happen to play on one of our recommended hoops or did you decide to give one of them a chance?

Please let me know in the comments, I’m always interested to hear the experiences of the readers.

That would be all for this guide. Until next time, happy holidays and happy hooping!

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Top Basketball Training Equipment Reviews In 2021

basketball training equipment

If you’re a basketball player, your summers are likely spent on local courts playing 3-on-3 or even 5-on-5 pick-up games whenever the weather allows it. If so, chances are that at some point in time, you have played either with or against THAT guy.

Your Guide

Edis Hajlovac   Edis Hajlovac

The guy who comes to the court dressed like he was just going for a casual walk. The guy dressed like he has absolutely no business being anywhere near a basketball, yet that same guy somehow ends up dominating absolutely everyone on the court.

I’m willing to bet these lines have brought up a few memories for most of you reading. As that guy has clearly shown, basketball is, and always will be, a game of skill.

While having the best gear is no guarantee of success, it can make all the difference on your journey to become a better player.

Whether it’s helping you avoid injury that could keep you sidelined for weeks or even months, helping you create the most realistic practice environment, or giving you that split second advantage needed to make a play, having the right equipment can be the difference between success and failure.

Even with the understanding of why proper equipment is needed, it is still difficult to choose the right pieces for you. What is it that makes a piece of equipment good, and even more importantly, what makes a piece of equipment a good fit for your specific needs?

The huge number of choices on the market might easily overwhelm someone who doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for. We’re here to help you navigate that jungle of choices and help you select the equipment that will help you become the best player you can be.

We’re going to cover pretty much every single piece of equipment you could need as a basketball player, explain the key concepts or features you can base your decisions on, and provide our product recommendation based on both personal experience and research.

Let’s get started.

How To Choose The Best Basketball Hoop 

You can technically play basketball in pajamas and slippers, but you’re still going to need a ball and a hoop. Choosing a ball is relatively simple because can feel the weight and the texture of the ball when you hold it in your hands at the store.

Choosing a hoop, on the other hand, can be a daunting task given that it’s highly unlikely you can start launching three-pointers or do a few practice layups in the store. Portable basketball hoops come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, all of which can and will influence your experience and practice.

What are these differences? What are the main benefits of the different types of hoops? How do I select the one that is right for what I want to practice? There are some of the questions we will try to answer in the next segment.

What To Look For

The most obvious differences between hoops are in the base, the size of the backboard, and the type of the rim. The less obvious differences are in the materials used (especially the materials the backboard is made of), and the ability to adjust rim height.

Your exact needs and the amount of space you have should be the driving factor behind your choice of hoop base. If you have the space for a dedicated basketball court and value rim stability, then the dug in base is probably best for you. Otherwise, go for a hoop with either a mounted or portable base.

Portable bases are meant to be filled with other materials that can be easily emptied such as sand or water to ensure stability. As the name suggests, their mobility is their biggest asset. Mounted hoops are designed to be attached to an existing structure like a house wall or a garage door.

Backboard sizes range from 44’’ (112 cm) to the regulation 72’’ (183 cm). If you want to practice bank shots or difficult layups on your hoop, then the 60’’ (152 cm) backboard is probably the best choice for you. If regular shooting is your main priority, a smaller backboard will probably suffice.

You may encounter different shapes of backboards too, mainly rectangular and fan-shaped ones. If layups and bank shots are important to you, go for a rectangular one. Otherwise, a fan-shaped backboard will probably be enough for you.

Rims come in two main types, fixed and breakaway. In my experience, fixed rims are often very sturdy and will influence your shot in weird ways. A breakaway rim is probably the better choice if you want to have more realistic shooting/layup practices and/or practice dunks.

Backboard material impacts how the ball bounces off of the backboard and there are three main options. Starting from the most expensive and “gym-like”, they are tempered glass, acrylic, and polycarbonate. Acrylic provides a nice middle ground and might be the best choice for the average user.

Other considerations include the type of net and the ability to adjust rim height. Many hoops with portable or dug-in bases will give you the option to adjust rim height which is great if you have some younger family members that want to use the hoop. This option is rarely present on mounted hoops.

Nets come in either nylon or chain variants. Official games are played with nylon nets and they are the ones that produce that satisfying swish sound when a shot is hit just right. Chain nets keep the ball from going far when you hit a basket, but they can corrode and even damage your ball is some cases.

Deciding which hoop you’re going to buy becomes much easier once list your needs and know the specific ways different options on the market can fulfill them. My final advice before moving on is to keep in mind that tomorrow you may want to practice something you weren’t considering before.

Recommendation For You – Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ backboard

The specific hoop I have chosen to recommend has won me over with its versatility. It is the Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ backboard (it comes in 54’’ and 60’’ backboard versions). If you’re looking for a portable hoop that will let you practice a wide variety of moves, this may be a good choice for you.

It offers a good balance between mobility and stability thanks to its wide base. A relatively big backboard lets you practice bank shots and about 16’’ of space behind the backboard will allow you to drive in for layups without the fear you’ll hit the base of the hoop or the pole as you land.

If you have the option and space for a dedicated basketball court, then you are probably better off getting a hoop that can be dug in for added stability. If versatility and the ability to move the hoop when needed are important to you, then the Spalding NBA Hybrid is probably the right choice.

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ backboard

Spalding NBA Hybrid with a 60’’ backboard

How To Choose The Best Basketball 

“Which ball are we playing with?” A timeless question that gets asked before the first 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 game of the day if there is more than one ball present on the court. It’s usually followed with a comparison of the available options and maybe a short debate if there isn’t an obvious consensus pick.

You’ve probably been in a situation where you simply had to play or practice with a ball that just didn’t feel right or was straight-up bad. Not something you want to repeat if you can avoid it, right? But what is it exactly that separates a good basketball from a bad one and why does ball quality matter?

A good basketball will not only make your game experience more enjoyable, but it will also help your practice sessions be more effective. I consider that the basketball is one of the two most important pieces of equipment to choose correctly, together with the shoes you’re going to be playing in.

What To Look For

Finding the right basketball requires first understanding what size is right for you, and then deciding where do you want to play with the ball you buy. The process is relatively simple once you have a bit of experience with the sport, but it is still easy to overthink given how many choices are available.

Let’s start with the size. Official rules of basketball dictate different size balls should be used by men and women. Men play their official games with a size 7 ball (29,5’’ or 75 cm circumference), whereas women play their official games with a size 6 ball (28,5’’ or 72,5 cm circumference).

Basketballforcoaches.com has a useful guide on this specific topic if you’d like to learn more. If you choose the wrong sized basketball, you run the risk of seriously breaking your shooting and dribbling mechanics due to the difference between your practice ball and the official game ball.

Your primary playing location will determine the basketball material that is the best for you out of the three main options: leather, composite, and rubber. The materials differ in the type of surface they are meant for, grip quality, the way they bounce off of the court/backboard/rim, and of course price.

Leather basketballs are the ones you’ll see in official games. They offer the best grip quality out of all the materials, even when your hands get sweaty. If you’re looking for a ball that will help you have realistic practices, leather is probably right for you.

Leather balls are pricier than the alternatives, and they have to be “broken in” before they start feeling and performing as a proper game ball should. They don’t handle outdoor courts well due to dirt and potential damage to the finish but are the best option by far if you’re looking for an indoor ball.

Rubber basketballs feel very different from game balls, and their grip control is often very poor. Another problem is that their weight is often significantly different than what it should be, meaning they can negatively impact your mechanics. I recommend you avoid them if at all possible.

Composite balls are jacks of all trades with a good mix of performance and price. They are usually suited for both indoor and outdoor play and they replicate the feel and weight of leather balls well. This might just make them the best option if you’re looking for a quality ball without breaking the bank.

There are also some more advanced options out there if you are a more advanced user, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have created a short guide to different types of both basic and advanced basketballs. Give it a look if you’d like to learn a bit more.

Recommendation For You – Molten GG7X

My hands tend to get very sweaty when playing which sometimes leads to problems maintaining control of the ball. This is why grip quality is one of the most important things I look for in a basketball.

Some rubber balls I’ve played with had amazing grip quality, and I still have one such ball laying around somewhere. However, that grip quality came at a great cost of poor performance in many other areas, as well as a weight which was much different than the rules of basketball call for.

The ball that solved the problem for me is the one that I’ll be recommending for this category, the Molten GG7X. It’s a composite leather ball which the producer labeled as an indoor and outdoor ball.

It has everything I want in a basketball – good grip control, great performance, and it feels very natural in your hand. It is an absolute joy to play with on hardwood. The only problem I have with it is that it isn’t a good ball to use on outdoor courts, despite the manufacturer’s indoor/outdoor label.

Outdoor surfaces will quickly degrade the finish, decreasing performance and grip quality. Dirt sticks to the ball quickly, making it slippery when used outdoors. If you’re looking for an indoor ball, this is probably a great option for you. But if you want an outdoor ball, there are better options out there.

Molten GG7X

Molten GG7X

How To Choose The Best Basketball Shoes 

Basketball shoes have two main functions – preventing slipping on the court and injury prevention. Since the ankle is one of the most commonly injured body parts in basketball players, choosing the right shoe for you is likely the most important choice you can make in terms of basketball equipment.

Even the best basketball shoe can’t guarantee that you’ll never roll your ankle, but they play a crucial role in decreasing the likelihood of such an injury according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. If you do roll your ankle, a good basketball shoe can lessen the severity of the injury.

The word of the day is fit. Unlike your walking shoe which probably tolerates small size deviations, your basketball shoe needs to be a perfect fit for your foot. Basketball shoes that are too large or too small won’t do their job properly and can actually lead to further problems down the line.

YouTube video for this topic (a bit outdated regarding the models but the principles have remained current):

What To Look For

Basketball shoes differ in materials, cushioning type, and style. You are probably familiar with the two main styles of basketball shoes out there, high-top and low-top. Many people have a style preference one way or the other, but there are important performance differences to consider between the two.

Low-top shoes are usually lighter and are probably the choice for you if you’re looking for a shoe that emphasizes speed and agility. You’re usually going to see these worn by guards and some small forwards due to their style of play and height/weight.

High-tops are usually heavier than low-top shoes but offer superior stability as a result. You’ll often see power forwards and centers wearing this type of shoe because they are much taller and heavier than guards, and their style of play almost always demands the added stability offered by high-tops.

Many people mistakenly believe that high-tops are better than low-tops in preventing ankle injuries. A large study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine is just one of several studies that have found no difference in ankle injury rates between players wearing high-top and low-top shoes.

Similar results were found in a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The shoe style is completely up to you. I know many guards who don’t enjoy playing in low-tops, and vice versa for power forwards. The most important thing is that the shoe fits and you feel comfortable wearing it.

Cushioning is also very important in a shoe, and it is found in the midsole. Different brands use different materials, but the cushioning will most likely consist of some sort of foam or a combination of foams. Some brands also offer “air” cushioning, where gas pockets replace the foam.

I recommend avoiding this type of cushioning, as the gas pockets can get ruptured, leading to a loss of cushioning in your shoe. Foam cushioning is a much safer alternative in this regard. One more thing you need to consider is the outsole, a.k.a. the bottom of your shoe.

This is the part of the shoe responsible for “sticking” to the surface you’re playing on and preventing slipping. They are usually made from rubber or synthetic materials, and the bottom of the outsole will have a pattern. The best traction is usually provided by herringbone or hexagonal patterns.

One final thing you need to keep in mind is that any shoe you pick will quickly wear away if you use it on hard outdoor surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Not only will these surfaces destroy the outsole pattern, but over time they will destroy the entire bottom of the shoe, rendering it unwearable.

If you plan to use your shoes on outdoor surfaces, it is probably a good idea to get shoes with a foam midsole and a thicker outsole, simply because they will last longer than shoes with thinner outsoles. Just keep in mind that shoes worn out by concrete/asphalt will have decreased indoor performance.

Recommendation For You – Adidas Title Run

Due to the size I wear, finding shoes has always been a problem, even when looking for basketball shoes. I always liked Nike basketball shoes, but on one occasion the only shoe I could find in my size was an Adidas shoe, a TS Commander model shoe in Celtics colors.

Given how I had no other choice, I bought it and the result has been one of the most pleasant surprises in all the years I’ve been playing basketball. The shoe was comfortable, very stable and durable. It was the reason why I started looking at Adidas shoes more closely in the future.

Despite not having as much hype surrounding the company as Nike, Jordan, or more recently UnderArmour, Adidas has been quietly improving and developing shoes with great performance at reasonable prices. One of their better models in recent years is the shoe I’ve chosen to recommend.

Adidas Title Run is versatile enough to fit nearly any position or style of play as it offers enough stability for heavier players while being lightweight and responsive enough for guards. Unless you have very specialized needs or prefer low top shoes instead, this shoe will probably be a good choice for you.

It uses the signature adiPRENE+ cushioning which has been praised for its comfort and quality. The outsole features a modified herringbone pattern with reinforcements on certain parts such as the inner balls of the foot for pivoting.

The outsole is made from thick rubber which improves the shoe’s durability for outdoor play. However, the outsoles seem to attract dirt easily which can make the shoes slippery if you don’t wipe the outsoles thoroughly after outdoor use. You can encounter the same problem with dirty indoor courts.

As with any shoe, it’s best to buy it in a store where you can check the fit and avoid nasty surprises that potentially come with online ordering. While many users have found the shoe to be true to size, some have complained about it being narrow, so you should definitely try before you buy.

These drawbacks can easily be avoided, but I still wanted to mention them just to give you a more complete idea of what you’re getting and not getting with these shoes. Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile and quality shoes at a reasonable price, Adidas Title Runs are probably a great choice for you.

Adidas Title Run

Adidas Title Run

How To Choose The Best Basketball Jersey 

The jersey is probably the most iconic piece of basketball equipment in existence. They’re often used to show team pride, or simply fandom for a specific player current or retired. You may see players with custom jerseys in pick-up games, or even players wearing generic jerseys or t-shirts.

Most people who wear a jersey while they play outside of official games do so because they are fans of the team or the specific player whose jersey they have. Since the NBA is the most popular basketball league in the world, we’re going to give you an overview of the options for your new NBA jersey.

Of course, if you’re a fan of a team or a player that aren’t in the NBA, by all means, feel free to look for the specific jersey you want, the principles we’re going to go over can be applied to virtually any jersey, regardless if it’s an NBA jersey or not.

What To Look For

Basketball jerseys have evolved a lot over the years, primarily in the materials they’re built from. A modern basketball jersey is supposed to wick away the sweat from a player’s skin without absorbing too much of it to allow for easier evaporation, all this while allowing the skin to breathe.

This means that quality jerseys are made from some advanced variant of polyester that is both durable and able to fulfill the functions described above. Keep in mind that not all polyester is made equal and different technologies are integrated into the jersey’s production process to improve performance.

Now that we’ve covered that, we can move on to the three main variants in which you’ll find genuine NBA jerseys on the market – authentic, swingman, and replica. There are many fakes out there as well, and this great guide from The Daily Universe will teach you how to spot them and avoid them.

Authentic jerseys are the same as the ones NBA players are wearing on the court. In terms of pure quality and performance, they are the best that money can buy. Accordingly, they’re also the most expensive aside from game-worn jerseys, but you get what you pay for.

If you’re a collector or a die-hard fan, an authentic jersey is probably for you. If you’re looking for a jersey you want to play in on a daily basis, one of the other two variants will probably suit your needs better at a significantly lower price.

Swingman jerseys don’t look that much different from authentic ones but you will notice the differences upon closer inspection. The material won’t be top tier polyester like the one found in authentic jerseys, but it still offers decent performance and durability.

The numbers and the lettering are heat pressed unlike in authentic jerseys where they are stitched on. In general, swingman is a step below authentic in quality but if you’re looking for a jersey to play in for a reasonable price, swingman is probably right for you.

There’s a great video guide made by zvExotics that takes you through all the differences between authentic and swingman jerseys in great details, give it a look if you’d like to learn more.

At the bottom of the totem pole are the replica jerseys which are a step or two below swingman jerseys. They’re usually made from low-tier polyester or even nylon in some cases and the fabric is thinner than swingman jerseys leading to decreased performance and durability.

Replica jerseys might be a good option for you if you’re on a tight budget or need a cheap jersey that you won’t miss too much if it gets ripped or otherwise damaged. In addition to the sleeveless jerseys that are associated with basketball, sleeved jerseys were introduced in the NBA a couple of years ago.

The materials are the same as in regular jerseys and it’s a matter of personal preference but many players have found them uncomfortable and restrictive, so they were quickly phased out of NBA games. Try playing in a tight t-shirt to get a better idea if this kind of jersey is right for you.

As far as fit goes, you don’t want the jersey to be tight and pressed against your body, nor should it be too loose and flying around. If you’re used to playing in t-shirts, a jersey will probably feel a bit long at first, but as long as it fits around the shoulders, you will get used to the extra length in no time.

Recommendation For You – Nike Icon Swingman Jersey

There’s a high probability that your favorite teams and players are different than mine. This is why I don’t feel comfortable recommending you to get a specific team or player jersey (although the image below will feature a Luka Dončić jersey for the sake of demonstration).

Instead, I will recommend a jersey variant, and my recommendation is the NBA swingman jersey line. They are probably your best bet if you’re looking for a durable jersey with good performance at a decent price. You can use this jersey in both casual settings as well as game attire.

I picked up one of these myself a few years ago, initially for collection purposes, but I soon started wearing it when playing indoors. That jersey ended up being much better to play in than I honestly expected. I usually played unofficial indoor games in my old college jersey which had some major flaws.

The biggest one was that the material stuck to the skin when it got wet which got distracting and uncomfortable after a while. If you’re familiar with this feeling, I’m guessing you’re not a fan of it either. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be avoided? As it turned out, the answer is “yes”.

The swingman jersey solved that issue better than I could have hoped for and the difference in jersey performance was very noticeable. It also turned out to be surprisingly durable, withstanding more than its fair share of pulls and falls.

Overall, if you’re in the market for a durable jersey that looks good enough to be worn in casual settings and will offer great game performance, a jersey from the swingman line is probably the best option on the market for you.

Nike Icon Swingman Jersey

Nike Icon Swingman Jersey

How To Choose the Best Baseketball Shorts 

Basketball shorts are not often used to display team or player fandoms, which is why you’ll see team shorts much less often than team jerseys. If you have both, it’s a bit of an unwritten rule not to wear them together when playing, pick either the jersey or the shorts.

While a jersey can be substituted for a t-shirt (or a t-shirt with cut off sleeves) if that’s your personal preference, shorts don’t have such a good substitute as sweatpants are often too restrictive and either don’t wick sweat away or absorb too much of it without letting it evaporate.

Performance-wise, shorts fill a role very similar to jerseys wicking away sweat to let it evaporate faster. I’d argue that shorts are more important than a jersey since a bad pair of shorts can hinder leg movement, and you don’t want your legs to be slow on the court.

What To Look For

If you’re looking for a pair of shorts that represent your favorite NBA team or player, the variants available to you are the same as for jerseys (authentic, swingman, replica) with the same properties and differences.

Herb Brooks, hockey coach, and Olympic gold medal winner, often told his players that the legs feed the wolf. The same can be said in basketball. You want to be as fast as possible on offense, defense, and in transition, so it’s incredibly important to pick a pair of shorts that won’t restrict your movement.

We’ve already talked about the importance of materials when it comes to wicking sweat away and allowing the skin to breathe, the same principles can be applied to shorts. The best basketball-specific shorts will be made from some sort of high-tier polyester, so be sure to take a look at the composition.

As far as length and fit go, the shorts should come up to just above your knees, if they are going over your knees they may somewhat restrict your movements which we want to avoid. They should also be loose (like this), to allow for a large range of motion, but not so loose as to fly all over the place.

Recommendation For You – Under Armour’s Baseline Shorts

I’ve been really impressed with a pair of shorts I came across recently, impressed enough to list them as my recommendation for this category. The model in question is Under Armour’s Baseline 10’’ shorts 18.

They are extremely comfortable and do their job so well that I managed to notice a big difference in performance compared to other pairs of shorts I used to play in. The shorts are great at wicking sweat away while absorbing very little of it, allowing you to move around the court without any restrictions.

They are also much cheaper than any official NBA shorts while offering similar, or even superior performance in many aspects. Unless you’re a collector or a die-hard fan of a certain team/player, I wholeheartedly recommend you give these Under Armour shorts a try.

Under Armour’s Baseline Shorts

Under Armour’s Baseline Shorts

How To Choose The Best Basketball Socks 

When thinking of athletic equipment, few people are going to mention socks as something that can affect performance, but medical professionals such as Dr. Stephen M. Pribut state that socks are an important part of an athlete’s kit.

Socks perform a dual role in performance and injury prevention. They help performance by preventing the foot from sliding inside the shoe. Injury prevention is done in two ways – providing extra cushioning for the foot and preventing blisters and similar foot-related issues.

Shoes and socks go hand in hand when it comes to basketball. Even if you have the best shoes money can buy, you still risk injury if you don’t equip yourself with the proper socks. Here’s an overview of the main things to consider when buying your next pair of basketball socks.

What To Look For

Socks come in a variety of materials and you likely have a pair of cotton socks somewhere in your house for example. If you intend to play basketball, stay away from those socks as cotton is one of the most absorbent materials out there. To quote Dr. Pribut, “A soggy foot may end up being a healthy foot”.

Any socks you intend to wear during physical activity should be made from hydrophobic materials. Cotton is an example of a hydrophilic material as it “loves” and absorbs moisture very well. Hydrophobic materials are the exact opposite, they “fear” moisture and don’t absorb it well.

Hydrophobic materials are most often synthetic (or specially treated natural materials like smartwool). These materials are going to wick away the moisture from your feet and help you avoid blisters or other foot problems. Dr. Pribut’s article goes into more depth about this so give it a look to learn more.

If you’ve ever had a blister on your foot then you know how uncomfortable or even painful they can be, and you’ll easily understand why I’m talking about materials so much. If you’ve never had a blister on your foot then consider yourself lucky and just trust me on this, it beats learning the hard way.

Fit is another important thing to consider for your basketball socks. You don’t want any loose fabric when you put the socks on, you want them to be pressed against your foot or ankle, but they can’t be tight enough to affect circulation. Still, expect them to be tighter than your everyday walking socks.

It may take a bit of time to get used to the feel, but it won’t be long before it starts feeling completely natural. You should also consider how your socks will interact with your shoes. Some basketball socks are thicker than others, depending on the material and the amount of extra cushioning.

Thicker socks may add as much as half a size (US) or one whole number (European) to your shoe size, so always try the socks with your basketball shoes to see if they will make your shoe too tight. This extra cushioning may be important.

Unlike regular socks, basketball socks are reinforced in certain parts and may come with additional cushioning to lessen the impact of your movements on your joints. If you are heavier or if your game relies on quick changes of direction, then it’s probably a good idea to go for the extra cushioning.

Recommendation For You – Nike Elite Basketball Socks

I spent way too much time playing basketball in generic sports socks… As a heavier player who jumps a lot, cushioning was always something I could never get enough of, but cushioning is also something that generic sports sock could never provide nearly enough of.

A friend recommended I pick up a part of the Nike Elite basketball socks. He had several pairs of them and swore by them, so I decided to give them a try. I knew of these socks by reputation, as they are some of the best basketball socks ever made. They lived up to every bit of that reputation for me.

When they first came out, these socks were in such demand that people were selling them through eBay at a marked up price. They remain some of the best basketball socks on the market to this very day despite having been designed quite a few years ago.

If you’re looking for a sock that offers great comfort and superb protection with additional cushioning at every possible impact point on your foot and ankle, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better and more affordable option than this one.

Nike Elite Basketball Socks

Nike Elite Basketball Socks

How To Choose The Best Basketball Knee Pads 

Have you ever bumped knees with someone else or seen two people bump knees in a basketball game? It probably hurt just seeing it happen and there was likely a stoppage of play for both parties to recover from the pain.

Hopefully, there weren’t consequences more serious than some pain and a bruise or two but in reality, such bumps can lead to a variety of injuries to the knee. According to an extensive study by Dracos et al., knee injuries are some of the most common and serious injuries among basketball players.

Knee pads are meant to offer a degree of protection against hits to the knee or falls that can occur in the heat of a game. They can also give a confidence boost to players who like to make aggressive moves to the basket and like the feeling of knowing they have some extra protection.

What To Look For

First of all, I must point out that knee pads are NOT a substitute for knee braces or other medical devices. Make sure to consult a doctor if you are suffering (or recovering) from a knee issue as a simple knee pad may not be sufficient protection and a brace may be required.

Knee pads can come on their own or as a part of a larger compression sleeve that can cover your entire leg. Compression sleeves supposedly improve performance by improving circulation and reducing soreness but these benefits have not been conclusively proven by science.

Still, some players swear by their compression gear, so if you want to get a knee pad, feel free to try both the stand-alone and compression sleeve versions before making a purchase. Also, make sure to pay attention to the material the pad is made from as the same rules apply as with jerseys or socks.

The pads themselves will be filled with some sort of cushioning material, usually foam, but the specifics depend on the manufacturer. This cushion may vary in thickness and size, but you generally want it to cover as much of the front of your knee as possible, and a bit above/below it.

The thickness of the cushioning is a matter of your personal preference and needs. Try it on and make sure that it isn’t too thick to restrict your movement. Most manufacturers have their own sizing charts that you should consult to determine the appropriate size for you based on your leg.

Recommendation For You – McDavid’s 6440 Hex Knee Pad

Full disclosure, despite having suffered a few knee injuries while playing I am still not a fan of knee pads because I feel they impair my movement. Never the less, plenty of people I’ve played with wear knee pads for various reasons. Some do it out of necessity and some simply as fashion statements.

I’ve never cared much for fashion statements on the court, and I spent a fair amount of time talking with the people who wore knee pads either for protection or because a doctor recommended them to do so.  Their personal preferences differed, but some things were a common theme for most of them.

A specific brand of knee pads kept coming up, McDavid. The few people I knew that owned their knee pads talked very highly of them, and more than a few of those who had knee pads of other brands wanted to switch.

I knew the brand by reputation, and hearing my friends talk about their knee pads and a few other products prompted me to find out more about them for myself. I liked what I saw, and if I ever find myself in need of some protective athletic gear, I’ll most likely be getting it from McDavid.

If that product turns out to be a knee pad, it’s highly likely that I’ll go for McDavid’s 6440 hex knee pad. I like this knee pad because it covers a large surface area and has great quality cushioning. The icing on the cake for me is that the pad doesn’t take any more space on your leg than it absolutely needs to.

For someone who hates being restricted by compression gear, this is important. If you’re looking for a pad that comes with a larger compression sleeve, there is also a sleeved variant of this knee pad.

If you ever find yourself looking for a knee pad, I highly recommend that you give this model a look. It is both protective and durable enough if you to get plenty of mileage out of it without a drop in performance. If I’m ever in need of a knee pad, this is the one I’ll be looking for.

McDavid’s 6440 Hex Knee Pad

McDavid’s 6440 Hex Knee Pad

How To Choose the Best Basketball Ankle Braces  

I was forced to wear one of these for a few weeks after a particularly nasty ankle injury and I really wish I had one before I actually needed it. Ankle braces are a common piece of equipment as ankle injuries are the most common type of injury in basketball players according to research by Roos et. al.

According to a research paper by McGuine et. al., ankle braces are a useful tool for reducing (but not completely eliminating) the risk of acute ankle injuries. The forces that the ankle is subjected to during events that cause an injury can be so severe that no brace in the world can prevent them.

Still, if a brace can make an injury less severe (which it certainly can), it’s well worth the cost to be able to get back on the court sooner and avoid any permanent damage to your ankles. If your ankle is recovering from an injury, a brace can help stabilize it so that it doesn’t suffer further damage.

Stephen Curry is notorious for having issues with his ankles and he wears an ankle brace in every game he plays to stabilize them. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor if you’re suffering from any ankle issues to see if further medical intervention beyond wearing a brace is required.

An ankle brace is an item that you objectively won’t need 99% of the time, but you’ll be glad you’re wearing one during that 1% of the time. As much as one wrong step can lead to a severe ankle injury and a brace could be the difference between a mild sprain and a few weeks on the sidelines.

What To Look For

Ankle braces offer varying levels of protection and different types of closure methods. We’re going to break down the most common ones so you can get a better idea of what is right for you.

At the bottom of the totem pole are the plain “sock-like” braces. These resemble a sock with the front part cut off. They’re made from some sort of stretchy fabric and offer next to no protection beyond keeping your ankle somewhat warm so you probably shouldn’t even consider them an option.

The more serious braces are closed either with laces, Velcro straps, or a combination of the two. Laces are probably better for you if you want to be able to customize how tightly each part of the brace fits around your ankle.

The fit should be tight enough to firmly grip your ankle without cutting off blood flow. Braces that are closed only with straps aren’t that common and they usually leave something to be desired when it comes to the level of protection, as the straps can make certain parts of the brace feel loose.

A loose brace is useless, and one that is too tight is straight-up dangerous, so pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s sizing guide to avoid any fit issues. If you’re looking for the most secure closing method, then a brace with a combination of laces and straps is probably your best bet.

We’ve already mentioned that laces offer great security on their own, and straps act as a failsafe in case the laces become loose for any reason. Of course, this option will be the costliest one, other things equal, but the added security might just be worth it.

A majority of braces will use some sort of synthetic material. Make sure to research the models you’re considering because in some cases repeat washes can cause the material to become loose. Your brace will likely have a bit of natural elasticity but you don’t want too much of it.

If you’re having severe ankle issues and need extra security, you may want to consider braces with extra plastic or steel reinforcements on the sides. These will likely severely limit ankle mobility but the unparalleled level of protection they offer might be worth it.

Recommendation For You – McDavid 195 Brace

Ideally, the protection provided by your ankle brace shouldn’t come at the expense of a large mobility loss unless you need the most rigid steel or plastic reinforced brace. Getting the right mix of protection and mobility is one of the key criteria I look for in protective gear like ankle braces.

This is probably the main factor that drew me to the McDavid 195 brace. It’s very lightweight yet very supportive and secure with a closing mechanism consisting of laces plus straps, which makes this brace a great pick-up if you’re a fan of the added security.

The low weight is a result of the brace consisting of one layer of polyester fabric which is more than enough for injury risk reduction in an average user. The only situation in which I’d recommend you to go for a thicker brace is if you have a condition that requires it.

As with most of McDavid’s products, this brace is quite durable and you’ll be able to get plenty of mileage out of it as long as you maintain it in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t put it through extreme abuse.

As great of a brace as this is, it has some flaws. Despite being a single layer brace, it can be very rigid at the beginning which can make putting it on a bit hard and it will require a break-in period before you start feeling comfortable in it. Once this is done, however, it becomes very comfortable to wear.

While there are rarely any fit problems with this brace, the top strap may be too thick for some users with very high top shoes. You may not be a fan of how this feels with your shoes on, so make sure to try before you buy if at all possible.

Despite these minor setbacks, it is still an amazing piece of equipment. Unless you have an injury that requires that you wear a reinforced brace, the McDavid 195 will probably be more than sufficient for keeping your ankles safe and ease some of the worries you might have about injuring yourself.

McDavid 195 Brace

McDavid 195 Brace

How To Choose The Best Basketball Insoles 

After reading this title, you might be asking yourself “Aren’t my basketball shoes supposed to come with appropriate insoles?”. To be fair, the question is a legit one but the answer to it is a complex one.

Every foot is different, and the default insoles that come with the shoes might not be not perfectly appropriate for your feet. Can this be a problem? It doesn’t have to be but it certainly can lead to problems down the road, so it’s probably a good idea to change them if you feel it is needed.

Insoles are supposed to help you avoid injuries or chronic foot conditions by appropriately distributing the weight of your step, as well as provide additional cushioning. Most default insoles only do the latter at most. If you are suffering from a foot or lower leg injury, specific insoles can help with recovery.

What To Look For

When choosing an insole, you need to pay attention to both your foot size and your shoe size. If your foot is narrow, then it will be easy to find an insole. However, if your foot is wide then it might be a bit more difficult as you will have to find an insole wide enough to cover the entire surface of your foot.

You also don’t want your insoles to move around in your shoes, which is why you should find a pair that will fit your shoes perfectly. Don’t assume that insoles will fit your shoe if their stated size is the same as your shoe because different manufacturers may have different sizing principles.

This can be circumvented by getting a pair of “adjustable” insoles, which basically means that a pair of insoles can be trimmed down to the exact size you need. If you’re having trouble finding an appropriate size for your shoes, adjustable insoles may be a good solution for you.

Different insoles can be made from different materials depending on the purpose they are designed for. Insoles designed to help people recover from conditions such as plantar fasciitis will usually use firmer materials like nylon, while those designed for cushioning will usually go for softer ones like gel.

There isn’t a material that is objectively the best because they serve different purposes. If you have a foot or a lower leg injury, ask your doctor what would be the best insole for you. Beyond that, here’s a quick overview of which material suits which purpose.

Nylon is usually the firmest material used for insoles. It offers great support and is probably the best option for you if you’re suffering from an injury. Even cushioning-oriented insoles can be partially made of nylon in some areas like the foot arch to provide extra support where it is needed.

Gel or foam are primarily used for cushioning-oriented insoles. I have used more than a few of these and in my personal experience, gel insoles have very low durability and will need to be changed pretty often. If you’re looking for durable cushioning, foam is probably the better option.

Silicone can be used in both support and cushioning roles depending on its density which makes it the most versatile insole material. It is also very durable which probably makes it the best option for you if you’re using the insoles frequently.

Recommendation For You – Spenco GRF Basketball Maximum Performance

As I’ve already mentioned, specific foot conditions will require a specialized insole, so for the purposes of this recommendation I will go for an all-round insole that should be suitable for the needs of a majority of players.

The model in question is the Spenco GRF Basketball Maximum Performance. I chose to recommend this model because unlike many insoles, these are specifically tailored to the needs of basketball players and strike a great balance between arch support and shock absorption.

They’re also very light and probably won’t make your shoes feel tight as they’re not too thick. All of this makes them a great pick-up if you’re looking for a good, jack of all trades, all-round insole.

The flip side of being a jack of all trades is also being a master of none, so there may be better options for you out there if you’re looking for a specialized support-oriented or cushioning-oriented insole.

The all-round nature of this model will serve as a great indicator of whether or not you require more specialized insoles if you’re not yet sure. As with any other insole, I suggest you only buy one pair to first see if they’re right for you and then go for something else if you feel it is needed.

Spenco GRF Basketball Maximum Performance

Spenco GRF Basketball Maximum Performance

How To Choose The Best Basketball Bag 

If you’ve ever tried packing all of your basketball gear into an everyday backpack, you probably know how annoying it can be to try and cram everything into very limited space that most everyday backpacks provide.

This is why some people, especially the old-school ballers, usually pack their gear into gym bags that are worn over the shoulder. Not only are those not the most comfortable to carry for a long period of time, but they also won’t allow you to safely pack any non-basketball related items.

This is why basketball bags have become popular in recent years. Most models give you not only enough room to pack all of your gear, but also allow you to safely pack other items such as a laptop or books if you’re heading to practice before or after classes.

What To Look For

Your basketball bag isn’t going to look that different from a regular backpack except for being bigger, but it will have some important features that even the roomiest regular backpacks aren’t likely to have.

The first thing is the material. Many regular backpacks are made from some sort of canvas, which is not good if you’re packing any wet clothes (like a jersey for example) inside as the liquid can easily go through the canvas and get onto the clothes you are wearing or other items in the backpack.

Basketball backpacks will usually be made out of water-resistant materials such as nylon or polyester. On top of that, most of them should also have multiple compartments inside that allow you to safely store your wet clothes inside without having to fear that anything else inside will also get wet.

Since your basketball backpack can get heavy, especially if you have other items like books inside as well, it is very important that you pay attention to the straps which will ideally be padded for added comfort. Cheaper backpacks may have unpadded straps which can get very uncomfortable over time.

Another feature that may increase comfort is the third strap which connects the two straps that go over the shoulder. This strap is sometimes called the sternum strap and it usually looks like this. As a rule of thumb, the wider the straps the more comfortable they will be, other things equal.

One drawback that basketball backpacks may have compared to regular backpack is that items at the bottom may be harder to access due to the backpack being bigger and more items being stored inside, but some models have overcome this with cleaver placement of zippers and/or compartments.

Recommendation For You – Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team 2.0

The product I have chosen to recommend in this category is one that I feel most closely resembles the features that an ideal basketball backpack should have. The backpack in question is the Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team 2.0 Basketball Backpack. I like this model for several reasons.

It is made of pure high-quality polyester which makes the backpack both water-resistant and highly durable and it features extra-wide straps for comfortable carrying. It also features separate compartments for wet/dirty clothes which allows you to store them without endangering any other items inside.

If you’re in need of extra room to safely pack other items such as a laptop or some books, this model will likely suit your needs as a majority of the people who bought this backpack say they’re left with quite a bit of room after packing their basketball equipment.

One final feature that drew me to this backpack is a closing system that Nike has implemented on several of their backpacks that allows for easy access to anything stored inside regardless of the location.

If you’re on a tight budget, then this backpack may be too pricey as it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but you get what you pay for. Overall, if you’re looking for a high-quality basketball backpack, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding a better backpack than this one.Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team 2.0

Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Team 2.0

How To Choose The Best Basketball Books 

Basketball-related books have been written on a variety of subjects, from highly specialized training manuals to biographies of some of the greatest players to ever lace them up, and everything in between.

Some will require specialized knowledge to be properly understood and utilized, while others can easily be read during your daily commute to and from work/class.

What To Look For

Training manuals are sometimes not suited for regular basketball players who lack the understanding of the underlying sports science principles utilized by the methods or programs outlined in the book. Even when this is not the case, I feel like videos are often the superior training material.

The main reason for this is the ability of the video to clearly demonstrate how a certain drill is properly executed. This is an area in which a book will simply fall short because it is an inferior visual learning source compared to a video. E-books can bridge this gap by including links to video resources.

Granted, some authors do a great job of explaining the outlying principles for their methods and/or programs in terms that an average person will understand. This can be a great sign that you’re looking at the work of a competent author.

On the less professional end of the spectrum are the books about the lives and careers of great players, coaches, or executives. These can take the shape of biographies or they can focus on one or more of the characteristics that made them great at what they did.

These can be excellent sources of knowledge about their specific training methods (which may or may not be suitable for you) or the things that allowed them to reach the level of success they had beyond pure basketball skills.

It all depends on what do you want to get out of a book, but it’s probably safe to say that there is a basketball book for you regardless of what you’re looking for.

Recommendation For You – Relentless by Tim S. Grover

One subject that always piqued my interest was the layer that separated the great players from “merely” good ones – the mental aspect of the game. A few years ago I came across an amazing book about this particular subject.

Stories of Michael Jordan’s competitiveness are a thing of legends, and one of the people who had the best insight into his state of mind as a basketball player was Tim Grover, his long-time personal trainer who also worked with other all-time greats like Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Charles Barkley.

Grover puts great emphasis on one’s attitude and mindset as a driver of success. Over the course of his own life and his years of work with some of the NBA’s biggest stars, he got a great insight into what separates a great player from one that is just good.

He compiled his observations into a book titled “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable”, in which he not only outlines the mindset of some of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood but also gives advice on how the reader can start adopting and building the same mindset.

If you’re interested to learn more about what allowed these greats, including the G.O.A.T. himself, to rise to the very top of their profession, this is probably the right book for you.

The advice contained inside the book is applicable to many things in life beyond basketball which makes the book a great pick-up even if you’re not interested in becoming a world-class player. As long as you want to become great at something, this book will probably help you on your way.

Relentless by Tim S. Grover

Relentless by Tim S. Grover

How To Choose The Best Basketball Movies 

If you’re a true hoops junkie who is looking for some training videos or maybe a good basketball movie to watch while relaxing after a game or a practice session, you may have been hoping to see them mentioned here. No worries, I got your back even if the segment might not be what you expect exactly.

What To Look For

I strongly believe that the best idea when it comes to training videos is to keep your money in your wallet as there is a wide variety of amazing free basketball training videos available on YouTube. Few paid videos will be much better than what you can find for free online.

It may take time to find the best content creators for the specific kind of basketball training you want to do, but you will succeed sooner or later and the money you save can be used elsewhere. There are even specialized channels for just post players or just dribbling.

As long as the channel is concerned just with basketball it can be a good place to learn from. I usually avoid videos put out of various “everything tutorial” channels that just so happen to be basketball related as they are for the most part lack depth that is often necessary when learning a move.

If you’re looking for a basketball-related movie to relax to, I’ll assume that you’ve already watched a few and that you’re sick of the stereotypes like game-winning shots at the buzzer or sensational turnarounds which occur in these movies with alarming regularity.

Recommendation For You – Blue Chips (1994)

Predictable plot can easily destroy a sports movie for me and it’s the reason why I often have trouble agreeing with people’s top 10 lists. There’s plenty of proof out there that a good sports movie can be made without employing cheap overplayed tropes like the ones mentioned before.

Blue Chips is an example of one such movie. Despite not being a great success at the box office when it first came out in 1994, it gained somewhat of a cult following over the years. Despite coming out 25 years ago, the movie is strangely relevant to our time given recent events.

Academic integrity and the rights of college players to be compensated have recently been thrust into the limelight again with various investigations, scandals, and court decisions. These are also explored in the story of Blue Chips.

Plenty of people I know have seen the movie and I have yet to find someone who didn’t like it. It won’t blow you away with Oscar-worthy acting or screenwriting, but it will offer plenty of entertaining moments for fans of the game.

Blue Chips (1994)

Blue Chips (1994)

Concluding Thoughts

Congrats, you’ve almost made it to the end and you have probably learned quite a few things about how to select the basketball equipment for yourself and which parts of it you may or may not need. All that remains now is to pick up the pieces you feel you need.

If you lack experience, making this first step can be daunting. I suggest making your first step a simple one. Go for the basics first and get yourself a good basketball and a good pair of shoes. These two items will get you surprisingly far with proper practice and a bit of luck.

Once the basics are in place it will be relatively easy to work your way up. As you gain experience with the game, you will be able to better judge which pieces of equipment are right for you and which ones you don’t quite need.

By now, you may have made up your mind on whether or not you’re going to upgrade your basketball gear or add a new piece to your collection. If so, let us know in the comments below what your pick is, and maybe we’ll dedicate an article to it in the future to help more people learn about its features.

If you have any questions, if you’re torn between several pieces of gear, or if just happen to have any ideas about the topics you’d like to see us write about in the future, leave us a comment and your question or idea might just end up being the topic of a future article.

With all that being said, I most sincerely hope that this guide will help you make decisions about the equipment that will accompany you on your journey to becoming the best basketball player you can possibly be. I wish you the best of luck and thank you for reading.

How To Choose Best Dance Movies Reviews In 2022

best dance movies

They say dance like nobody’s watching, but what if the whole world is in fact watching? Is that so bad? Is that a shame? I don’t think so.

I say dance like every human being on this planet catches a glimpse of your act and make it worth it for them (and for you).

Your Guide

Alexandra Romanmi   Alexandra Romanmi

Learn from the people who do that today, have done it for decades and will continue to do it for much longer than that. Who are those?

There are some dancers who enter your home through a screen and invite you to be their spectator (and why not, their dance partner) crossing the barriers of time and space. We call them movie actors.

In today’s busy world we tend to take things for granted, but if we pause for a second and think, we realize that some pretty amazing things are available at the tip of our fingers now.

How fantastic is it that we can watch Fred Astaire’s mad dance moves as if he’s performing right here, right now?

How crazy is it that we can fall in love with Patrick Swayze time and time again while watching him rehearse his routines in Dirty Dancing?

And how hard is it to try to hold those tears back when Al Pacino is gently killing the dance floor in the Scent of a Woman? There are no mistakes in the Tango, he says…

You probably guessed it. I am a dancer and I love dance movies.

They inspire me, they relax me, they take me on emotional roller coasters,  they help me dream bigger and bigger and ultimately they make me jump off the couch and dance in front of the TV.

Dance movies take us to a happier dimension where spontaneous dance sequences in the middle of the street or the cafeteria are perfectly plausible.

Who cares if you are in the office, in a car wash or in a park?

Suddenly, there’s music coming from somewhere and all the people surrounding you will leave whatever they are doing and join you in a crazy choreography.

Wouldn’t real life simply be better if that would randomly happen to us?

I think it would.

But when reality has other plans, watching movies is our best bet to escape it and create our own.

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West Side Story

West Side Story (1961)

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The Black Swan

The Black Swan (2010)

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Style Wars

Style Wars (1983)

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The Freshest Kids

The Freshest Kids (2002)

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Valentino (1977)

Valentino (1977)

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Chicago

Chicago (2002)

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Save The Last Dance

Save The Last Dance (2001)

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Swing Kids

Swing Kids (1993)

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Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

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Shine (2018)

Shine (2018)

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Broadway Melody of 1940

Broadway Melody of 1940

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Dhoom 2 (2006)

Dhoom 2 (2006)

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Step Up 3D (2010)

Step Up 3D (2010)

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Take The Lead (2006)

Take The Lead (2006)

“Nobody puts baby in the corner!”

Patrick Swayze (or his character from Dirty Dancing, Johnny) knows what he’s talking about.

Whenever you feel like you need someone to take you out from the corner you’ve been hiding in and gently push you into the spotlight of the centre stage, take a few hours, relax and watch a dance movie.

Nobody puts baby in the corner

They have a great effect on the low self-esteem moments each dancer encounters in their career and we all recall going through plenty of them.

Trust me, I am a dancer and I know!

I have shared with you the movies that made me feel better and inspired me along the way, now it is your turn!

What are your favourite dance movies and why?

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Dance Shoes Reviews For 2022

best dance shoes

Magic shoes or just dance shoes…or maybe both?

Puss in Boots asks for a pair of boots before helping his master become royalty.

Cinderella loses her glass slipper, only to find true love later on. Perrault’s Little Thumbling steals a pair of boots from an ogre and makes a fortune of off them.

   Your Guide

Alexandra Romanmi   Alexandra Romanmi

Dorothy travels all over The Wonderful Wizard of Oz land wearing her pair of ruby shoes. 

Hermes – the Greek God of trade – had a pretty slick pair of winged sandals.

So I sit here at my computer and wonder…What if I had a pair of magic shoes?

Then it hits me: I kind of do. They are not magical in the conventional sense of the word, but they sure did magic on stage and in the rehearsal hall.

After a long string of bad choices concerning my pointe shoes – which ended up with my feet getting hurt a lot – I had to make a better smarter (and more expensive) choice.

In 2011, I got my first custom made Gaynor Minden pair of pointe shoes and I honestly haven’t been happier with any of my teenage years’ investments. My feet still thank me every once in a while.

Ever since then, I stuck to my choice, with the colour as the only specification I change when I place a new order.

The model, vamp, heel, box and shank always remain the same. Dancing on the tip of my toes is still painful sometimes, but a good pair of pointe shoes makes all the difference.

There may be lots of other models and brands that work just as well, but I found the ones that fit me best and that is very important.

Whether you are a groovy hip-hop dancer or an elegant salsa champion, I will try to teach you how to pick the best shoes for your style and recommend you the ones I consider to tick all the quality boxes.

I have a pretty big collection of shoes for all sorts of styles, so most of my recommendations are based on personal experience, as well as online research.

Hopefully, with a little help from me, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

How to choose Sneakers for dancing hip hop & breakdance

Following a culture that was born in Bronx in the mid-1970s, rappers, DJs, beatboxers, graffiti artists and, of course, my fellow B-girls and B-boys out there, have been making the world a better place for a while now.

If you’re part of latter category of artists – following the (dance) steps of legends like Richard Crazy Legs Colon – then you are probably constantly wondering how to improve your technique and win those dance battles.

While part of the answer is obvious to you (practice, practice and practice again!), the shoes you wear to your rehearsals and contests count…a lot.

What To Look For

As breakdance is a highly complex and demanding dance style, there are a few things you might want to consider when choosing which pair of shoes will accompany you on the battleground:

their weight,

the soles & the support they offer to your feet

the price range ( from $30  up to $1000 a pair)

The weight of your shoes classifies them in three main categories: light weight, mid-weight and heavy shoes.

I won’t recommend the latter type from the start, as I noticed that bulky shoes tend to stay in the way of the dance flow.

While light shoes help you with your high jumps and knee lifts, making it easier for you to master a clean footwork, I personally prefer the mid-weight ones, as they seem more secure and steady on the dance floor. Speaking of steadiness, the sole is a crucial element.

From my experience, it needs to be flexible, medium dense and thick. The balance between these three elements should make stomping, sliding, toe spins, and shoe tricks a lot easier and seem more natural.

Stay away from extremely dense and thin soles, as they will limit your moves and mostly force you to keep your feet flat on the ground, i.e. no fancy tricks for you.

The support the sole offers to your feet, from low to high, is also important, especially if you train a lot or you teach long hours.

The cushion-like soles, with medium to high arch support prevent your feet from getting too tired after hours and hours of dancing.

The low support ones have a very flat bottom, minimizing the distance between your feet and the hardwood floor, hence hurting your feet more and they also wear out pretty quickly.

Recommendation For You – Ultraboost Shoes

Taking everything into consideration, after reading tons of reviews, trying them on myself and ripping a few pairs, I arrived to the one pair that seems to be doing the best so far: Adidas Ultraboost.

As they were primarily designed for running, they are very comfortable and they adapt to the shape of your foot.

Their thick foam sole, made from white energy capsules (constructed using a small granular material called Thermoplastic Polyurethane) helps you get super bouncy. Price-wise, they start from $90 a pair and can go up to a few hundred dollars.

They’re great for sliding, jumping, spinning and switching from heels to toes. Also, if you train a lot, you might like the Primeknit Technology that comes with these shoes.

Their upper is basically a whole piece of knitted fabric that keeps your feet very well ventilated. No sweaty feet sound good to me.

According to Dr. Howard E.Friedman. a board certified podiatrist from New York, every 100 gram reduction in shoe weight also reduces the amount of energy required to run.

This may as well apply to dancing, so this light to mid-weight pair of shoes could help you reduce premature fatigue.

Ultraboost Shoes

Ultraboost Shoes

How To Choose Tango Dancing Shoes

 “First there is desire

Then, passion

Then, suspicion

Jealousy, anger, betrayal!

(…)

Jealousy, yes, jealousy

Will drive you

Will drive you

MAD!”

If you read these lyrics out loud with the Argentinean’s low raucous voice, then you are probably a Moulin Rouge fan, like myself.

El Tango de Roxanne made me fall irrevocably in love with the mysterious and seductive art of tango dancing right around the beginning of high school.

Since then, I keep trying to perfect it and while doing so, I have realized that apart from the elegant thigh-high slit dresses, the fire in your eyes and painfully precise moves, there’s another key element that makes a tango night as authentic (and comfortable) as possible – the right dancing shoes.

What To Look For

As tango is a highly elegant dance style, the high heels are a must. They help boosting your confidence, your posture and, surprisingly enough, your balance.

The moves simply don’t look the same if you perform them while wearing socks, as they lose many of their graceful and alluring characteristics. However, if you are not used to dancing on high heels, start with lower ones!

You can increase the height of your heels as you get more and more accustomed to your routine, as they usually provide a more efficient weight placement.

Make sure your shoes have secure straps though. Nobody likes to play Cinderella on the dance floor.

Walking on heels can be very tiring for your feet and so is dancing, so be kind to them and choose shoes with high density latex memory padding. They feel comfortable and offer the adequate support for your foot arch.

The sole is also an important choice. Some people prefer suede soles as they offer a superior grip to the floor – yes, I am afraid of accidents too, but I personally prefer the leather soles because they are more resilient and they tend to slide better.

The suede sole is also significantly more flexible and it makes me feel a little unsteady, compared to the leather one that adds a greater sense of balance to my moves.

Also, try to keep the shoe model as simple as you can, avoiding unnecessary accessories such as bows, little chains or anything of the sort as they will bother you during your routine.

Your heels may get stuck and everything can fall apart from there. Trust me on this. I used to love bows.

Recommendation For You –  Comme il Faut – Nude Metallico

My recommendation for you comes, just like tango itself, from Buenos Aires.  The brand I chose for my practice classes, Milonga nights and competitions is Comme Il Faut.

My favourite pair is the Comme Il Faut Nude Metallico, open toe model with closed heel cage and of course, a double strap as I really don’t like accidents on the dance floor.

The heels height is 7,5 cm and I do not recommend you to go a lot higher than that.

I love the nude colour as it basically matches any colour you choose for your dress and it makes the shoes look like a natural extension of your own feet.

They have comfortable foot paddings and the sole is made of soft leather with a pretty good grip to the floor.

It might sound silly to you, but beware that the new shoes have a plastic protection layer on the sole that has to be peeled off before your first dance routine.

Comme il Faut - Nude Metallico

Comme il Faut – Nude Metallico

How to choose shoes for swing dancing

If you’re a little bit of a nostalgic and love the smell of vintage clothes, you’re also probably at least familiar with swing dancing. More probable though, you love it. And you dance it.

Whether you do it for fun on Sunday nights, or actually take part into national competitions, whether you do the Collegiate Shag or are more into Balboa, you are part of a sophisticated community who loves to boogie.

Sometime in early 2018, I discovered one of the loveliest dancer couples on the Internet, Kendall and Ronnie who own one of the most comprehensive YouTube channels focused on Swing Dance, Live Collegiate Shag.

From practice advice, to vintage hair tutorials or vintage dress restorations, everything swing is there.

I have never been an extraordinary swing dancer, mostly because I am afraid of aerials, but I did take classes for almost 6 months after watching them dance and tried to follow their advice when it came to choosing my shoes.

I used ordinary sneakers and tennis shoes for the first weeks of practice, but I’ve put suede on their sole before rehearsals time – never forget to do that! Here’s a short video on how to do it.

However, after you get an idea about the way you’re supposed to move, you kind of want to try your fancy moves on fancier shoes. Tennis shoes are not too vintage after all.

What To Look For

What you need to keep in mind when you choose your next pair of swing dance shoes is that your ankles have to be very secure.

The air tricks are a big important part of this style, but they are also demanding for your feet and joints, so you need to protect them by choosing shoes with straps.

For the same reason, I do not recommend a high thin heel. Swing was originally danced in street shoes, so you don’t want to overdo it.

You should look for wide heels, probably no higher than 4 cm. Also, beware of open toe shoes as they will make it easier for your toes to get stepped on.

When it comes to soles, the choice is usually made between rubber soles and leather ones, but I would recommend the latter as it makes sliding across the dance floor a lot easier, allowing you to spin with more ease.

Recommendation For You – AVA Shoes & Blucher Noruego

The brand recommendation I have for you comes from Barcelona and it is called Slide & Swing. In their 20 minute long video about their swing shoes collection, Kendall and Ronnie also mention this brand as their favourite, so we’re on the same page here.

The model I purchased is the Ava model, in a beautiful black and gold colour. They have a vintage inspired look combined with, what seems to me, a very secure strap around the ankle.

They are flexible, yet stable on a wide 4 cm rubber top heel. The shoes are 100% handmade with natural leather.

Despite the fact that they are lightweight, they are very durable, so I recommend them if you plan on dancing outside on hard surfaces such as concrete.

If you like these and would like to get a matching pair for your partner Slide & Swing also has a variety of models for men, with the Blucher Noruego as the model that caught my eye – partly because they would match my Ava model. You may want to check them out though.

AVA Shoes

AVA Shoes

Blucher Noruego

Blucher Noruego

How to choose tennis shoes for dancing

Whether you choose to master one dance style or focus on more at the same time, one thing is sure – you have to train a lot to become a better dancer.

As dancers, we all love the stage and the glamour of the spotlight, but before we enjoy them, we need to spend most of our time rehearsing. However, long sweaty hours pay off.

The structure of a dance class is a fairly complex one and it includes warm-up, cardio exercises, force training, performing combinations and finally rehearsing choreographies and cooling down.

The way you prepare for it is just as complex. You need certain training clothes, such as sports bras, leotards and leggings, and obviously the right tennis shoes to complete your outfit – stylistically and functionally.

First off all, for your dance rehearsals, it’s good to try and resist the urge to use the same pair of shoes you normally use for walking and running.

What To Look For

Dance is very demanding for our feet so we need to care for them a little more than usual, by choosing shoes that lend more support to the foot arch, muscles and joints.

The benefits of arch support are discussed by specialists on a website dedicated entirely to Plantar Fasciitis.

According to Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause for the stabbing pain occurring with the first steps in the morning. Dancers get it sometimes, especially as we get older.

Shoes that offer good arch support should have specifically designed mid and insoles in order to maximize shock absorption and should offer some sort of motion control in order to prevent injuries due to over-pronation or supination – this is how ankle sprains and shin splints happen.

One of the options I found out to work for me is the Women’s Dedication XT Training Shoes model from Rykä.

The brand creators define themselves as a fearless tribe of women who want better and that just worked on me.

Their creations are backed up by serious science and rely on the difference between a man’s and a women’s anatomy of the leg and foot.

For example they take into account the “Q-angle” or the quadriceps angle which is a measurement of the width of the pelvis.

It is 5 to 7 degrees greater in women and it is considered to be a risk factor for sports injuries, as women tend to shift more weight to the outside of their feet, leading to instability.

Furthermore, the customized shape with a narrower heel, wider forefoot and more secure insole addresses the complex biomechanics of our plantar region.

Recommendation For You – Dedication XT Training Shoe

The Women’s Dedication XT Training Shoes come with some special features.

The Anatomical Precise-Return insole that offers the extra heel and arch support is a Ryka trademark along with the External RE-ZORB LITE pod network placed between the midsole and outsole.

The latter refers to a special foam compound used for cushioning and further shock absorption.

Flexible, yet secure they help me during my training hours and they may become your best friends too if you give them a chance.

Dedication XT Training Shoe

Dedication XT Training Shoe

How to choose shoes for dancing all night long

Whether you are a professional dancer or not, you have probably been invited to a Social Dance Party at least once in your life.

This gatherings offer the perfect chance to show off your latest moves, to perfect the old ones and to socialize with people from your dance class.

All in all, a great night out! A great night out with tons of dancing, which means you need to prepare for it adequately.

Apart from a fancy outfit, the shoes you choose to wear will make the difference between a fun occasion and a long painful night on the dance floor.

I used to go to this kind of Latino dance parties almost every week in my first years of college and they usually turn out to be a nice experience, unless I went on wearing pretty, but supremely uncomfortable shoes. Disclaimer: It happened a lot.

But now I know better and I will try to help you too.

What To Look For

First of all, forget about stilettoes –they will immediately turn into your nightmare, no matter how flattering they are for your feet.

High thin heels will make you feel uncomfortable after a few moves and they will also prove to be quite slippery on the club’s dance floor, offering you little to no stability. Instead, you may want to try medium height thick heels with sturdier bases.

Secondly, make sure to get shoes with ankle straps. It is important to feel secure and to not fear that you’ll lose your shoes at the next fancy turn.

It is also important to have lots of cushioning for your insole. Expect to dance a lot at these parties, so make sure your feet will feel comfy.

It is worth it to even go a step further and actually insert some extra comfort in there, using orthotic insoles.

According to an American podiatrist, Grace Torres Hodges for health.com it is better to try the over-the-counter insoles available in all sorts of styles before getting the custom-made prescription-based ones, as they can get pretty pricey.

Recommendation For You – 2.5″ Heel Flex Character Shoe

It is hard to choose one single pair to recommend you, as there are millions of shoes I haven’t tried that are probably really great.

However, I will stick to my all-time go to brand – Capezio, an old and famous dancewear manufacturer founded by Salvatore Capezio back in 1887.

The model I recommend for this kind off “dance-all-night” kind of parties is the 2.5 “Heel Flex Character Shoe. They are elegant, yet comfortable with a foam padded footbed and a ¾ steel shank – the Capezio Signature Construction.

They feature a secure T strap with buckle closure, so you won’t play Cinderella at your party – unless you want to, of course.

The upper is made of leather and the forefoot comes in satin which adds a refined air you might like and use to complete your outfit.

They also come with a suede sole, so I advise you to only wear them once you actually got into the club, so you won’t damage them while walking on the street.

Designed with the dancer’s comfort in mind, they also feature an Achilles notch and a closed round toe box, which I usually prefer to the square and point ones, as they make my toes hurt a lot faster.

There’s also an identical model that features a 1.5 “heel, in case you want to be even comfier.

2.5" Heel Flex Character Shoe

They are under $100 which seems like a reasonable investment if you plan on going out and dance a lot, without compromising your precious dancer feet.

2.5″ Heel Flex Character Shoe

How to choose shoes for line dancing

I have never tried to practice line dancing, but as a medical professional I have come across some interesting articles that prove me I might actually have to give it a try some day.

One of them, states that life without line dancing and other activities would be too dreadful too imagine.

It was published in the prestigious Ageing International journal and it focuses on social dancing and its effects in older adults.

It showed that as opposed to a normal dance class, social dance promotes a playful and spontaneous atmosphere, while adding a positive reconnection and continuation with one’s memory, youth and history.

With this in mind, I encourage you to try it yourself or further recommend it to your older relatives at the next family dinner and, why not, try it along with them. It seems like a lot of fun.

What To Look For

After you signed up for your class and once you get into this style (which will probably happen sooner than you expect), you will need to invest some money in proper dance boots.

They will offer you good ankle support, good foot support and they will make it easier for you to spin around the dance floor, while giving you that full-on cowboy/cowgirl look you’ll be craving for.

Most of them feature a flat or a low Cuban style heel at most, as line dancers keep comfort and quality as their highest priorities when choosing their footwear.

After doing my research and reading lots of reviews I came up with what I consider to be the best recommendation for you, my fellow dancers – The Ariat Brand, a performance footwear and clothing brand from California.

Recommendation For You – Heritage R Toe Western BootDahlia Western Boot

The models I chose for you are are the Ariat Men’s Heritage R Toe Western Cowboy Boot and the matching Ariat Dahlia Western Boot for Ladies.

With an overall score of 4,6 out of 5, based on over 400 reviews on Amazon, The Ariat Men’s Heritage Boots seem to be a very good choice for your line dance classes.

They are lightweight, yet they offer good stability and good arch support. The R toe means they are tapered, but rounded at the tip.

They are 100% full grain leather and they feature the ATS ®Technology, the Advanced Torque Stability Shank – which offers support and cushions your foot during movement.

It also helps you maintain your posture and reduces fatigue. The gel-cushioned footbed is moisture wicking which will provide you a cool and dry experience.

The ladies’ choice, the Ariat Dahlia Western Boot will probably become your best friend on the dance floor.

These are short cowboy boots that allow you to easily tuck your jeans in. They are made of 100% full grain leather and benefit from the same ATS Technology, as the ones for men.

Their toe box is beautifully crafted with elegant embossed leathers. They feature a D toe which means they are tapered toward a point, but have a flat tip. The 2,5 “ heel is leather-wrapped, thus sturdy, so your long dance nights won’t damage them too much.

On Amazon, they have a high 4,2 out of 5 score, with 61% 5 star reviews, out of a total number of 573 customer ratings, which sound very promising too me.

Heritage R Toe Western Boot

Heritage R Toe Western Boot

Dahlia Western Boot

Dahlia Western Boot

How to choose shoes for dancing on concrete

One thing is sure. Dancers don’t like concrete. It feels like it restricts our moves and it makes us more vulnerable to injuries.

Its high friction limits pivots and fancy turns, making it hard for choreographies to be extremely spectacular.

However, sometimes, the occasion demands it and we need to say goodbye to our beloved sprung floors and rock the tough concrete ones…

What To Look For

One way of dealing with concrete is by using low-friction stick-on soles. They are cheap and they promise to help you pivot and slide with ease on high friction surfaces such as concrete.

However, if you are like me and your craft skills are at kindergarten level, you’ll probably want to skip gluing soles on to your shoes, along with and any other handmade tricks.

So what is there to do?

The answer is simple. If you’re going to dance outside, on concrete, then the safest thing to do is to replace your indoor dancing shoes with outdoor footwear.

You’ll have to choose it carefully as it will still need to carry some of the characteristics of the shoes you normally wear for rehearsals, such as high flexibility and good ankle support.

On top of that, the concrete floor imposes a few more demands: the sole needs to be adapted for shock absorption, which means a lot of cushioning and it also needs to successfully deal with high friction surfaces, while preventing injuries.

Your best bet will most likely be the running sneakers –they are flexible, comfortable and safe for your joints.

Recommendation For You – FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY SHOES

Runner’s World  veteran biomechanist Dr Martyn Shorten has performed lab tests to determine which new running shoes best suit the needs of the modern sportsmen.

He measured shoe characteristics such as cushioning, flexibility, height and weight, figuring out the role they play in the performance of their wearer.

Among his choices, there’s the pair that won Runner’s World Best Value 2019 – the Reebok Floatride Energy.

This pair of shoes also made its way on my wish list. It is fairly cheaper than similar models from other brands, yet it seems to tick most of my checkboxes.

The Floatride term points to a light and bouncy midsole cushioning which grants a good energy return from the surface you’ll be dancing on.

The upper features a simple design, nothing too fancy, which is great since it won’t bother you during your performance.

According to Doctors of Running, the upper material supports the foot well and it is also breathable –another characteristic I like in dancing shoes, since sweaty feet are simply not as reliable as dry ones.

According to Dr Nathan Brown PT DPT MS from Doctors of Running who tested the shoes, they are very durable.

He mentions that he used them for running over 120 km in total and they only shoed minor changes in foam, with any other real damage, so I’d say they can take our outdoor dance training just fine.

The doctor also mentions their ability to pick up the pace, which I believe is important for our routines.

He gave them an overall score of 91% which sounds perfect to me taking into account their comparatively smaller price.

FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY SHOES

FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY SHOES

FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY SHOE

FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY SHOE

How to choose pole dancing shoes

Pole dancing used to be one of those taboo subjects people would whisper about, especially in the dancers’ communities.

However, in the last decade or two, it became less of a taboo and more of one of these things that you got to try out at least once in a lifetime.

And I myself did. There are a few spots in the city I live in where they offer pole dance lessons as fitness training and I am telling you – it is a lot harder than it looks like.

No surprise they want to turn it into an Olympic sport – they should.

Now, I went to these lessons either barefoot or wearing my soft ballet shoes, but that is just because I was a newbie and honestly not very good at it.

If you are on the way to becoming a professional pole dancer or want to enjoy the full experience of pole dancing you will need the special super high heel shoes you see in the movies.

The moves look completely different in those, they are a lot more sensual – which is the whole point and they help you improve your performance by clinging to the pole and making attaching to it and climbing it a little easier on your body.

Saving energy is important and you won’t notice it until you try it.

What To Look For

My teacher came to class one day wearing a pair of fancy professional high heels and asked if anyone would like to train using them. I did and the experience was worth it.

The brand she chose is called Pleaser USA and after doing my research I found out that they are the most popular among strippers and pole dancers, as they’ve been in the business for almost twenty years.

Among other shoe lines of the company such as Funtasma, Demonia or Devious, Pleaser is the number one choice for dancers due to the high quality craftsmanship and comparatively good price.

Here is a helpful guideline telling you the difference between a few models from Pleaser.

Recommendation For You – ADORE-708

The pair I tried and fell in love with was the ADORE – 708 Pleaser sandals. Their signature Stiletto Heel is 17.8 cm high and the platform is 7 cm high. They feature a secure ankle strap and a clear upper made from PVC.

If I were to choose between ankle boots, thigh high ones and sandals, I’d go with the latter ones. The boots feel like they are restricting the movements, keeping the legs from bending freely.

These comfy sandals come with a chrome plated bottom, in lots of colours, so you can easily fit them with any of your fabulous outfits.

The rubber sole has good adherence to the ground, offering good stability. Another good thing about these sandals is that they are very simple in design.

They do not feature any glittery diamonds or any other accessories that may break off and inconvenience you while you do your routine.

Also, since they are transparent, they will show off you’re pedicure, so go ahead and paint those nails crazy colours.

ADORE-708

ADORE-708

How to choose shoes for club dancing

Tired of going barefoot on the dance floor? I sure am. Going out to dance with your friends, especially if you are known to be a professional dancer is a demanding task.

They all expect you to rock the clubs you’re going to, so you cannot disappoint.

What To Look For

This means, choosing normal shoes for your night outs is not always a good idea. Sticking to your dear dance ones might make difference.

Although they are not always the fanciest looking, they do help you protect your feet from getting too tired and to me that’s worth a lot.

My go to choice is usually a fairly priced pair, the Ellie Shoes Women’s 254 Lucille Dress Pump.

They get a nice 4.3 out 5 score on Amazon, with almost 1300 ratings from people sharing my opinion. They are 100% satin with 1920’s Vintage inspired design, adding elegance to your outfit.

The leather and rubber sole make spins and slides easy, yet secure. Unlike most dancing shoes, these have non-suede sole, which means you can easily wear them directly on the street –no need for an extra pair of shoes in your bag.

They feature a comfortable round toe box that protects your toes, preventing ingrown nails. We all know how painful and uncomfortable these can get.

Recommendation For You – Ellie Shoes Women’s 254 Lucille Dress Pump

If you have a few too many drinks and you worry about losing your shoes on the dance floor, you might like the adjustable buckle strap, the T-strap design and the stable sculpted heel.

They provide the appropriate support and security without getting too tight on the skin. Blisters are my worst nightmare on a dance night out, so I always look for ways to prevent them.

They are comfortable and they fit very well, accommodating your tired feet if they swell after hours and hours of showing off your moves.

Nike Joyride Run Flyknit Sunset

Ellie Shoes Women’s 254 Lucille Dress Pump

How to choose Nike shoes for dancing

Nike is already a well-established brand and dancers around the world make them their number one choice every day.

But with such an astonishingly big number of models available, sometimes we may feel overwhelmed when trying to pick the best one to fit our dancer needs.

What To Look For

Here are a few things to take into account when buying a pair of dancing Nikes:

A good grip, adequate support for the foot, good cushioning, a comfortable toe box, a non-slippery sole and a high quality upper made from lightweight, breathable and durable materials. Nike’s got our back.

When it comes to shoe-making technology, we’ve come a long, long way from the old wooden shoes in the Celtic lands.

A good example which embodies that exact amazing advancement in shoe tech and my latest acquisition from Nike are the Joyride Run Flyknit shoes.

They are like a tiny hug for my tired feet, as they have a soft sock-like feel to them and little foam beads placed in four strategic points under the plantar region of the foot.

These provide good shock absorption, protecting your joints whenever you do your fancy jumps.

They offer a personalized kind of response. It feels like my shoes know me and that’s important, especially on long training days.

The TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) bead system is also really dynamic as it shifts during movement, contouring your sole and supporting it in every position.

To me, this was a very helpful trait while training as they gave me a springy response, saving energy during difficult routines.

Apparently, after years of studies, Nike came up with this joyride system which offers 14% greater shock absorption the other foam cushioning technologies in their running shoes, e.g. the Air Pegasus 36 – which I have not tried yet.

Recommendation For You – Nike Joyride Run Flyknit Sunset

They are extremely lightweight, yet secure with a very useful built loop, making it very easy to put the shoe on.

Thanks to the high quality materials, they seem very durable so far, although I have only had them for less than two months now. I guess time will tell if that is the case or not, but so far it all seems promising.

I got them in pink, but they come in a varied palette of colours and you can also design your own if you’re not happy with the available options.

The internet famous Industrial Designer and self-entitled Sneaker Enthusiast Seth Fowler does a pretty good job reviewing this pair of shoes, focusing on the new cushioning technology from Nike and you can watch it right here.

Nike Joyride Run Flyknit Sunset

Nike Joyride Run Flyknit Sunset

How to choose Salsa dance shoes

When it comes to salsa, there are two types of people in the world:

The ones who think of it as a delicious spicy dip for their tortilla chips

And the ones whose eyes lit up and whose hips start moving to an imaginary Latino rhythm every time someone mentions it.

If you’re part of the latter category, then you’re probably a salsa dancer.

Whether you go to salsa classes a few times a month to escape your mundane and stressful day to day life or you have actually dedicated your entire existence to salsa and became a professional, we’re all salsa dancers in the end and we all love our salsa shoes, don’t we?

Well, I do, but I’ve also hated a couple until I managed to choose the right ones to suit my needs.

What To Look For

As an occasional salsa dancer, I did not want to spend a fortune on a pair of dance shoes, but I also did not to skip any of the important features that make a good shoe good.

First of all, when you think of buying your salsa shoes, go for heels.

The sensual Latino movements simply look better on a lady with heels and they make you feel a lot more confident on the dance floor.

If you believe it is easier to first learn the steps wearing flats, you might actually need to relearn everything once you decide it is time to switch to heels.

Secondly, pay attention to the flexibility of the shoe, its cushioning, the ankle strap system and the support they offer to your foot arch.

Recommendation For You – TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Dance Shoe

My recommendation for this section is probably the most popular pair of Latin Dance Shoes available on Amazon, the TT Dancewear Rhinestone shoes. With an overall mark of 4,5 out of 5, based on 377 ratings, they won my heart  (and got my money) too.

They are a valuable addition to your dance shoes collection as you can wear them to most of your Latino dance classes, not just for salsa.

They are very flexible, showing off that beautiful pointed foot arch you’ve been working on since lesson no 1. They’re made from satin and come with smooth suede sole which proves to have a pretty good grip to the floor.

If you like light shoes that make you feel as if you are dancing barefoot, these may be a good option since they are really comfortable and weigh almost nothing.

I am also obsessed with stability, so the double ankle strap comes in handy. They also feature a quick release buckle – really useful in case of fast changes at competitions or shows. T

They come in lots of colours and have delicate rhinestones applied on the upper straps and heel, which in my opinion, make them very feminine.

TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Dance Shoe

TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Dance Shoe

How to choose wedding shoes for dancing

The big day has finally arrived. You’re marrying the man of your dreams and everybody’s eyes are on you two.

Among a hundred other things you have to worry about, the Bride & Groom First Dance is a big one.

Not only you need to practice for this one beforehand, but you will also need to be able to continue dancing all night long, mostly with every guest, friends, family members and long lost relatives who show up at your wedding (potentially uninvited).

I haven’t taken the big step yet, but I did go to lots of weddings, most of them involving professional dancers as protagonists, because apparently dancers tend to marry their kind.

When it comes to wedding dance shoes, we do not only take into consideration the basic features of a normal dance shoe, such as flexibility, good grip to the floor, cushioning, an ample toe box, shock absorption, etc., but also the way they fit with probably the most expensive one-wear dress we’re ever going to buy in a lifetime – the wedding dress.

What To Look For

Although some wedding shoes look really pretty and match your dreams since you were a little girl imagining yourself to be a princess-bride, the truth is most of them are ridiculously uncomfortable after only a couple hours of wearing and a few spins on the dance floor.

You don’t want that, I don’t want it, nobody does, so here comes my recommendation, based on some of my closest friends’ experiences with their wedding shoes and on the podiatrists’ advice.

According to Dr Nicole Freels a podiatrist from Lexington Podiatry in Kentucky, the trend of brides who tend to choose more comfortable and practical shoes that can be worn more than once is currently increasing. Way to go, girls!

Recommendation For You – Badgley Mischka Giona II Evening Sandals

The winner in my opinion is the luxurious, yet affordable Giona II Sandal from the Jewel collection by Badgley Mischka.

They come with a 2” stable block heel that will take the place of an otherwise uncomfortable stiletto.

The round open toe d’Orsay sandal features really elegant laser cut detail, adding style to your bride outfit, while the crystal stones embellished over the crisscross straps add a note of refinement. They’re beautiful shoes indeed.

Made from metallic leather that complements its fancy accessories, the sandal has a cushioned footbed and ankle straps you can easily adjust, so they don’t go missing on the dance floor.

They feature high quality material and craftsmanship with man-made lining and sole.

Badgley Mischka Giona II Evening Sandals

Badgley Mischka Giona II Evening Sandals

How to choose shoes for contra dancing

Contra dancing is not just dancing. It is a social event and it brings people together.

To me, it is a wonderful cultural phenomena we should all expose ourselves to at some point.

Here’s a video full of people who are all about contra dancing and will have you fall in love with it too.

There are no fancy moves, no prior experience is needed so all we really need is a pair of good shoes and we can hit the dance floor.

What To Look For

According to Jeff Kaufman, a contra dance organizer we need to answer a few questions when trying to pick the most suitable pair of contra shoes.

How slippery the sole should be? How much cushioning do you need? Do you want to join the entire hall and make noise with your feet on balances? How flexible would you like your shoes to be?

The best choice for both men and women will be a pair of low heeled character shoes.

They are light, not too flexible, so your feet will feel stable. They are also good for making the balances noise, so if it is important to you to blend into the crowd, they will help you do it.

Recommendation For You – K360 – Character Oxford Shoe

My recommendation for this style of dance is the K360 Customizable Oxford Character Shoe from Capezio.

Made from high quality full grain leather upper, they are a comfortable option featuring foam padding in the heel and arch area.

In contra dance, you need to avoid rubber soles, as they will prevent you from sliding smoothly.

These shoes come with hand stitched leather sole to solve that problem. The shoes also have folded edges and the Achilles notch for some extra comfort. The stacked heel is low, measuring only 1”.

There’s an extra option Capezio offers with these shoes: if you want, they can attach the Tele Tone® toe and heel taps, but you will need to contact their Theatrical Department at 1-(877)-300-1887 in advance and let them know.

Their recommendation is that men begin with their street shoes size. However, for women, they should start 1.5 – 2 sizes down from street shoes size.

Capezio also has a good return policy that states that they offer free return on all their products within 30 days if you buy directly from their website. Of course, the products do not have to show signs of distressed use.

K360 - Character Oxford Shoe

K360 – Character Oxford Shoe

How To Choose Ballroom Dance Shoes

Derived from the Latin word ballare, meaning to dance, the term ballroom dance used to define the type of dances reserved for the privileged, the aristocrats from royal courts, leaving the folk dances to the commoners.

It is from this style that my beloved ballet was born from. But not only ballet, since ballroom dancing encompasses a wide range of social dances such as Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep or Swing.

It is one of the most sophisticated and refined types of dance, transporting you across the centuries back to the 16th century at King Louis XIV sumptuous parties.

You can imagine that the outfit and shoes you choose to attend such an event are pretty much the same you’d choose for a ballroom dance competition or even a class – very fancy.

What To Look For

When it comes to footwear, just like with everything in life, there are very cheap, cheap, mid-range and high-end options we can pick from.

However, it is not always easy to choose the ones that better suit our needs and pockets, when there are so many available.

Honestly, I believe in investing in a really good pair that will last a lot longer, rather than in buying multiple cheap ones, as they tear apart and wear out so quickly.

The popular professional ballroom dancer and instructor Michael Litke, guides you through the process of choosing the right pair of shoes for ballroom dancing in this short video.

He insists on paying attention to characteristics such as the type of heel, the closed toe box and the secure straps for women and such as the flexibility, type of sole gliding features and durability.

This time, my recommendation for ballroom shoes comes from a deluxe shoe manufacturer – Aida Dance. They are a bit expensive, but they are designed with the dancer’s needs in mind.

The shoes are handmade, from very high quality materials, leading to you enjoying them for a long period of time. They have a 5 out of 5 score on their official Facebook page, based on 81 reviews.

If uncertain about what pair to invest in, they also offer a free consultation from one of their experts.

As a very professional brand, they also have a short video explaining you how the shoes are supposed to fit. However, all orders are refundable if you are still not satisfied with what you have received.

Recommendation For You – TAYLOR (040C) MIRKO (119F)

For women, I chose the Taylor 040C model, a variation of the 040 Standard model. The ones I recommend come in Flesh satin and feature a 2” Flare Heel with added heel protectors.

They have a comfortable closed round toe box and a soft padded insole to support you during your long dancing hours.

If you are worried about balance on the dance floor, these shoes might be the ones to have your back, as the signature design aims to offer very exceptional stability and the sole creates a good connection to the floor, allowing you to slide in peace.

The strap keeps the shoes securely tied to your feet, so you cannot use the missing shoes Cinderella trick to find prince charming at the ball you are attending.

When it comes to shoes for men, the website has it clear: they offer unsurpassed quality, through ergonomically correct shoes that perform, last and impress. May it be so!

My choice for gentlemen is the 119F – Mirko model, rebranded in the honour of former WDC World Champion Mirko Gozzoli.

They feature a full patent leather toe box mixed with a crepe satin arch support that makes them very flexible.

If you like the freedom of the split sole, these shoes might be the ones you are looking for.

Make sure you like them, since they are durable and you’ll be stuck with them for a while.

In my opinion, the website excels in customer service and also offers a very wide range of customization options, so you are free to choose the heel height, style, the width and shape of the toe box, the sole colour, and even the material of your new pair of shoes, making them fit perfectly to your tastes.

TAYLOR (040C)

TAYLOR (040C)

MIRKO (119F)

MIRKO (119F)

Final Conclusion

As Leonardo da Vinci said “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”

We need to respect our feet and value them as our most precious asset. We cannot ignore our feet needs and hope they will work just fine on the dance floor.

The shoes we choose as dancers are a sign of how much we care about our performance on stage and about our health in the rehearsal hall.

So anytime you need to buy a new pair of shoes for your routines, take your time and make an educated choice.

It does not matter whether you are a newbie in the world of dance or you are already an established authority in this field.

Go ahead, pick a pair of magic shoes from the list above and write your own fairy tale on the dance floor. The whole world will be there to watch.

As dancers, we all have a magic shoes story. What’s yours?

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