When To Replace Your Basketball Shoes (A Mostly Non-Scientific Look Into The Sole Of The Hoops Game)

by Kenny Eller on July 12, 2011

A pair of my worn-out and retired Jordans!

A pair of my worn-out and retired Jordans!

As I bent down and tied my Jordans the other day at the basketball court, I had this thought:

How often should I replace my basketball shoes?

My 2010 sprint into the running game had me thinking about that very thing. It’s fairly well known that runners are advised to replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles. For someone that runs 20 miles per week that would mean swapping your running shoes out just under every four months, on the shorter end of that spectrum. The more you run, the quicker you need to replace your footwear. Simple.

Ask any runner how often one should buy new running shoes and you will likely get almost the exact same answer. It’s something that has been adopted and accepted in the running community.

What about the game of hoops? How often should shoes being used to play the game Dr. James Naismith created, be tossed/donated for a new pair?

The truth is I had no clue if there was an accepted rule of thumb for replacing basketball shoes and I’ve played ball my whole life.

How could this be?

A quick poll of some of the people that I know, including Division I College Coaches, Professional Basketball Trainers and current College and Pro basketball players resulted in no two answers being altogether the same.

Sure Michael Jordan would slip into a new pair of Air Jordans every game, but who can really afford to do that, unless of course you are MJ or are sponsored by the Jordan Brand. (Yes, Mr. Jordan or anyone with Brand Jordan reading this, I’d accept an invitation to be a Jordan athlete right now! 😀 My contact info is here. ;-))

So what about the rest of us? You know, the people who pay for shoes! How often should we replace our shoes?

In my non-scientific poll I received answers ranging from once a month for serious players to every two games for guys in the NBA. Others said every two months and some said once per basketball season. One person suggested having at least four pair in rotation at all times. Another said they wear them until they can’t wear them anymore.

I got amazing insight from a very esteemed group of individuals and some of it pretty in depth information, dealing with foot type, lateral wear and tear, hours spent in shoes on the court, etc.

At the end of it all, there just doesn’t seem to be a commonly accepted amount of time one should wear a pair of basketball shoes.

For me, as shown in the picture above, I’ve always found a pair that I liked and worn them until they can’t be worn any longer. When I can see my toes, it’s time for a new pair…haha!

When I was a kid I would get two pairs of shoes a year and that had more to do with me and my foot growing than anything. From the time I’ve been able to afford the luxury of having multiple sets of shoes, I’ve always had a pair that I wear on outdoor courts and then those I wear on just indoor courts. While I currently have a couple of unworn Jordans sitting around the house, waiting to be used, I’ve been playing in the same kicks since November and until recently never thought all that much of it.

Dr. Michael Lowe, team podiatrist of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and former President of The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine breaks down the replacement of basketball shoes into hours used.

He suggests that while it will take an average runner 66 hours to run 500 miles at an 8 minute pace, a high school or college level basketball player will easily work out at least 72 hours per month. Based upon that methodology, those basketball players would need to replace their shoes every single month.

Even if you played hoops just one hour per day, five days a week, according to Dr. Lowe, that would mean replacing your shoes just a little over every three months.

While many NBA players replace their shoes every couple of games, or in Jordan’s case every single game, the common theme at the pro level seems to have more to do with injury prevention than superstition.

Dr. Lowe states, “I continue to tell my athletes and it has remained true, that after a shoe has been worn more than 60 hours then it should be thrown out and not used for workouts or games any longer, due to midsole compression and stretching of the upper from the torque of use and being wet from sweat.”

While Jordan always wanted to have that special feeling we all get when we put on a new pair of shoes, in the end, he may have helped aid himself against injury without even knowing it.

So what does all of this mean???

It means that I need to replace my shoes more often! I need more Joooorrrrddddaaaaanssss!!! 😀

Honestly though, as with most things, whether you replace your shoes every week, month, or year, it comes down to usage and the almighty BUDGET.

Jordan brand shoes run anywhere from $100 up to $170 for his signature shoe this year. Kobe’s are $130. LeBron’s are $150. D. Wade’s $140. Derrick Rose’s $130.

You get the idea…pricey!

Even if you don’t go superstar brand, but follow this model of replacing shoes based upon 60 hours of use, your shoe bill may soon start to resemble that of Carrie Bradshaw.

Though if you can swing it, not only will you be happy to be sporting a new pair of kicks, your feet, and the rest of your body may be just as excited and healthy for it!

End of the day, unless you’re already in the NBA, we all probably need to replace our basketball kicks more frequently. The need to do so being fueled by injury prevention rather than vanity alone.

Exactly how often will remain up to you, though it definitely seems in this case that replacement in regular, rather short intervals is far better.

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What do you think? If you’d like to join the discussion, leave a comment below or head on over to the mevsMJ.com Facebook page and leave your vote!

As always, thanks for following along! Another day upon us means I’m one step closer to my goal of playing the man, Michael Jordan, 1-on-1! Thanks for the support!

Ok, time to go get some new Jordans! 😉

**I’d like to thank all those who responded to a last second text/tweet or who voted on the mevsMJ.com Facebook Page! I appreciate you all!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin July 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

Ok. Let’s go shopping!!!!!

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Kenny Eller Kenny Eller July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

Haha, sounds like a plan! I may have given sneaker-heads everywhere another reason to buy:)

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Charissa Eller July 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Really good info. This reminds me…I need new shoes!

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Kenny Eller Kenny Eller July 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Haha, nice! Thanks! 😀

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Bob July 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Awesome article! I have never thought too much about it. Luckily, I have a Jordan genie that keeps me in fresh sneaks!

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Kenny Eller Kenny Eller July 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Thanks man! Yeah, I never really did either. It’s amazing to me how the running community has a standard and yet the basketball community does not.

You are welcome on the Jordans:-) Haha!

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James Rickter February 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Hey guys I don’t know if there’s any specific way to know when to replace shoes. I’ve had the same ones for a few years and still feel pretty good about them. I’m purchasing some new ones just to keep up with the trends, and I’m thinking about buying the Air Jordan Fly Wade’s because they look sick but I was hoping one of you might have some feedback for me on how they hold up, any help would be great, thanks.

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Kenny Eller Kenny Eller March 15, 2013 at 6:38 am

James,

Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t worn the Fly Wade’s, but I’m sure they’re great. If you get them/got them, let me know what you think.

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Alex April 12, 2013 at 3:02 am

I use And1’s becuase they have a low centre of gravity. The few times I have worn Nike’s, I sprained my ankle each time I laced them up! But with a low centre of gravity, usually means high impact on the feet due to a thinner sole. So I replace them with insoles.

That said being a guard I rely on speed and that usually means a lot of wear and tear on them from stopping and turning etc. I can tell I need to change them once every 4 months or so, but, usually only do once every 6 months.

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jay January 5, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I start shoe shopping when I notice I don’t have that explosiveness in the court, and can notice my shoes loosing that grip. I probably have been averaging once every 1.5 yrs. I play ball around 1-3 hrs a week during a yr. That is well over the 60 hrs, maybe around double. I have never had an injury, besides contact with other players. Nonetheless, I will start buying two pairs one for indoor and outdoor use. Most likely still keep it at 1.5 yrs.

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Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

That’s great! Let me know how it goes! If shoes were free, like they are for collegiate and pro athletes, do you think you would change more often?

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EL April 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Hey man good info you shared with us, I’ve always just worn basketball sneakers till the end, but lately I’ve felt knee pain at times after the games. (Don’t know if it has to do with the sneakers) The pair I have today, I’ve played in for the last 2 summers, very low usage. (1-2 times a week during spring and summer) I think its time to replace them, I will look into the hyperdunks or D.Rose sneakers.

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Beau Bryan August 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm

I’m a heavyweight player, (300 lbs) and play or practice 10 to 14 hours per week. I have found that my shoes start to lose that lockdown feeling after about 6 weeks of use. I can still wear the shoes for fashion or just shooting around after that point, but I won’t do any running or serious play in them.
I like to shop sales at Finishline, Eastbay, and keep an eye on EBay as well as the local Ross Dress For Less/Burlington:/Marshalls etc.
My average shoe costs me around $60. Recently picked up Lebron Soldier 7 for under $50 as well as a pair of Kobe elite 9s for $80. Jordan Flight remix for $70, Chris Paul 8 for $40, Hyperchase for $40, John Wall Adidas for $35, and Air Raid retro for $35, for $350 I’m just about set up for the entire year. Some other good and affordable shoes are Fila 95 and 96 for usually $50. Adidas Crazy 8s for 50-70, Converse Aero Jam for 50-70, Adidas crazyquick and crazy light can be scored for as low as $40 and Nike Hyperchase and Hyperrev can also be scored for $40-60. Our feet are worth a lot to us. So please take care of them by wearing supportive and appropriate footwear. Sincerely, Beau Bryan

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perc November 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm

My view on replacing each shoe is that first you have to look at the traction. If you keep slipping and sliding on the court, that should mean that your shoes are wearing. For me personally, i have 2 shoes; one for outdoors and one for indoors. I usually purchase new ones every month and a half depending on how much i play. traction, upper, fit, material, and obvious signs of wear and tear must be consciously looked at

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Fawwaz Suri May 11, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Lol, I replace my shoes every 2 years and I play HS Ball! Really helped doe, just got a new pair of Kobe’s!

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