For a basketball player, the dreaded ankle injury can be one of the most debilitating and frustrating injuries. In fact, it’s considered the most common injury a player can sustain and it makes up approximately fifteen percent of all injuries in the game of b-ball. This isn’t exactly a surprise considering how players will jump, fly through the air, slam dunk, and often end up going toe to toe with the opposition. Fortunately, you can purchase the best basketball ankle supports that are designed to help prevent an ankle injury, providing a solution to a common injury that can potentially leave you benched all season.
But finding the right type of ankle support can be a challenge, considering there are so many options out there. Many companies also claim that their products have undergone extensive testing to ensure they’re effective and can provide the type of protection you need out on the court. But not all models of ankle support devices are created equal, and there are many different types of devices to choose from, not to mention dozens of models on the market for each style of ankle support.
That’s where I come in. I’ve reviewed many of the leading devices and I’ve chosen only the products that have been proven to work. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that will show you the top ten products on the market, what type of support they offer, how they’re categorized, and how they rated.
Basketball Ankle Support Comparison Chart
|Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace||Flexible brace||2||Heavy-duty|
|Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace||Brace||2||Heavy-duty|
|Liomor Ankle Support Brace||Brace||2||Heavy-duty|
|Mcdavid Ankle Brace||Lace-up brace||5||Medium|
|Shock Doctor 851||Brace with inserts||4||Medium|
|Mcdavid Ankle Support Brace||Lace-up brace||5||Medium|
|SENTEQ Ankle Brace||Compression sleeve||5||Light|
|McDavid 511||Compression sleeve||4||Light|
|Kunto Fitness Ankle Brace||Compression sleeve||1||Light|
Below, you’ll find the top-rated devices that offer heavy-duty support, which translates to ultimate protection out on the court.
Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace for Injury Prevention
The Ultra Zoom is the leading ankle brace on the market. It’s designed to prevent serious injuries and is an excellent option for any player who has suffered an injury in the past or those who want to prevent injuries. This model is more supportive than competing lace-up style braces and it offers a higher level of protection than what you’ll get from a lace-up brace or compression sleeve. It’s also incredibly easy to put on and allows a player to move around freely, working with the ankle, not against it. This brace works with a shoe to provide support, which is why it’s important that you only adjust the brace or base the fit on how the brace feels once your shoe is on. Unfortunately, the brace tends to have a lengthy breaking in period so you’ll need to wear it around the house for several hours before you use it in a game.
- Easy to put on
- Does not impact range of motion
- Works with your shoe to provide support
- Lengthy breaking in period
The brace’s innovative design, combined with its comfortable fit will provide players with a very flexible, easy to use brace that offers top of the line support compared to rigid braces and lace-up models. Overall, it will work to provide your ankle from any type of impact, ankle rolls, and more. Basically, this is one brace that you’ll find yourself relying on for every game here on out.
Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace
The Active Ankle T2 brace provides top of the line protection and support using a quick-fit strap that’s highly adjustable and designed to work with both high-top and low-top shoes. The brace will fit both the left or right foot and provides the perfect level of protection for basketball players trying to avoid and injury or rehabbing an old injury. The low profile design is lightweight and comes equipped with custom molded EVA padding that’s very comfortable and supportive. The padding is designed to hug the contours of the ankle, which will give the player a more custom fit. The bilateral anatomical hinge promotes full range of motion down and up, which is what makes it a great choice to treat or prevent strains and sprains.
- Hinge design promotes full range of motion
- Provides heavy-duty protection
- Can be used to rehab an existing injury
- EVA padding provides a custom fit
- Can be difficult to adjust
- Bulkier than expected
- Only available in two size options
The T2 comes with all the bells and whistles most basketball players are looking for, including the thick EVA padding that’s designed to hug every contour in your ankle and foot, the hinge design that will promote a full range of motion, and the simple design that makes it a breeze to take this model on or off or simply adjust it for the perfect fit.
Liomor Ankle Support Breathable Ankle Brace
This ultra-supportive brace works by using a crisscross strap designed to provide ankle stabilization and top of the line support for joints and tendons. The brace’s design works to reduce the risk of injury during strenuous activity and can also help to relieve any symptoms that are linked to acute injuries, which makes it ideal for wear if you’re currently suffering from a sprain. The moisture-wicking material will keep you cool and dry, while the brace itself is very stretchy. The perforated design will keep you nice and dry, minimizing general discomfort and irritation. The open heel design will allow for improved range of motion, so you can move around freely on the court and play at your best. The straps are highly adjustable, so it can meet different ankle diameters and requirements.
- Highly adjustable
- Fits both right and left feet
- Will not impact range of motion
- Low price
- Velcro can wear out over time
- Only three size options available
This brace is very flexible and highly adjustable, so you can wear it using different levels of support. As an example, if you’re currently rehabbing an injury, you can adjust the brace for a tighter fit and added support. The breathable, moisture-wicking material is designed to pull moisture away from the skin, so you can play in total comfort. Overall, this model offers the type of heavy-duty support many players need when rehabbing an injury or for those who want to significantly reduce the risk of an injury in the future.
Active Ankle T1 Ankle Brace
The T1 ankle brace features the type of rigid design that a player needs for ultimate ankle protection out on the court. The solid U-shape design helps to keep the ankle stable and also works to relieve pressure on the ankle joint. However, this type of rigidity can have a negative impact on your range of motion, and can definitely slow you down on the court.
- Heavy-duty protection
- Stabilizes the ankle
- Provides immediate pain relief
- Bulky design
- Has a negative impact on range of motion
If you’re in need of ultimate protection out on the court, then this brace can definitely deliver, just keep in mind it will also slow you down and can make it difficult for you to move freely during a game. Its rigid design does work to provide ultimate protection against future injuries or it can be used if you’re currently recovering from an injury.
Models that offer a moderate amount of support will obviously protect you from injury, more so than a light-duty brace, but they don’t offer the same level of protection that a heavy-duty brace can and will. However, they can be a good choice if you’re looking for a style option that won’t impact your range of motion, or a brace that’s simply more comfortable to wear.
Mcdavid Ankle Brace
This brace by Mcdavid can help you recover from a sprain, but if you wear it consistently when you’re out on the court, it can also help to prevent a future injury, especially if you have a history of sprains. The comfort and compression strap is highly adjustable, so you can enjoy a custom fit. It’s designed to help minimize inflammation and can do wonders for ankle pain and soreness. The strap system allows you to easily adjust the brace without having to fiddle with the lacing system or take your shoe off. The brace’s tongue is made out of mesh material, so it’s highly breathable, allowing your foot and ankle to remain nice and dry. The interior lining is heavily padded and designed with comfort in mind.
- Breathable tongue
- Highly adjustable
- Can be used to prevent injuries
- Compression strap for added comfort
- Cannot prevent a serious ankle injury
- Does not come with much padding
This brace is designed to fit nice and snug for optimal support. It’s available in a variety of sizes, so you should have no trouble finding a size that suits you. However, while this brace can work well to prevent certain injuries, it does not provide full protection like a rigid brace can, yet it will help to keep your ankle stable while also allowing you to move around freely on the court.
Shock Doctor 851 Ultra Wrap Laced Ankle Brace
This wrap laced ankle brace by Shock Doctor is designed to provide a moderate amount of support to the ankle, helping to prevent muscle sprains that are caused by unstable joints. This model features a multi-directional strap stability system that’s highly adjustable. It provides both medial and lateral support, no taping is needed, and it features a low profile that’s comfortable. The attached finger tabs make it simple and easy to adjust the brace, while the brace works to securely stabilize and compress the ankle while offering a type of healing throughout the joint by providing a type of therapeutic warmth.
- Lacing loop system
- No-slip footbed
- Provides both medial and lateral support
- Offer moderate support
- Multi-directional strap design
- Not recommended for rehabbing past injuries
- Cannot provide full protection
Unlike competing models, this brace is very easy to put on and take off, features a simple loop lacing system that’s highly adjustable, and will not hinder your movements on the court. When you use this brace, you won’t have to tape your ankle, thanks to the brace’s high adjustability that allows you to choose the perfect fit. Additionally’ the brace’s compression fit promotes healing by providing therapeutic warmth.
Mcdavid Ankle Support Brace
This lace-up brace can be used by players who are recovering from an ankle injury, or by those who simply want to prevent an injury from happening. It features very supportive U-shape steel side stays that are very flexible, so they will not hinder your movements on the court. The brace is designed to provide joint stability and support, allowing you to play in total comfort. The ventilated tongue prevents your feet from sweating, as does the breathable polyester and vinyl liner. The manufacturer claims that this model can provide maximum support, but considering it’s a lace-up style brace, I would categorize it as providing medium support only.
- Flexible steel side stays
- Available in several size options.
- Works for both right or left foot
- Not designed to provide full protection
- May not work for all types of shoes
For some, the biggest drawback of this model is the fact that it can’t provide full protection like a traditional ankle brace can. While for others, the fact that the brace may not fit in some shoes is a huge cause for concern. In the end, if you want to protect your ankle from a potential injury or you’re rehabbing a sprain, this model offers a decent amount of protection and will not impact your range of motion, allowing you to move freely on the court.
The following braces are designed to provide light support. These devices often don’t come with a heavy-duty strap design or stays that work to keep the ankle stabilized. Instead, they can be a great choice if you’re experiencing any tenderness in the area due to a mild sprain or muscle strain.
SENTEQ Ankle Brace Asain Slim Fit
This lightweight ankle support device doesn’t come with a complicated strap system or laces, which makes it a cinch to put on or take off. It’s also made out of moisture-wicking material, complete with mesh venting that’s designed to keep you dry, while also keeping the brace free from odors and preventing bacterial growth. Since it’s made out of neoprene, it’s also water-resistant, so it’s perfect for on the court or even in the pool. This brace is FDA approved and categorized as a medical-grade brace. It also comes with a thirty-day money-back guarantee, which will give players every reason to buy and try.
- Low price
- Five size options
- Money-back guarantee
- Made out of neoprene
- Waterproof, moisture-wicking material
- Does not provide full support
- Only recommended for mild injuries
This isn’t a heavy-duty brace. Instead, it’s a great option if your ankle is beginning to feel sore and stiff. The tightness of the brace will provide immediate relief and can help to minimize pain, swelling, and discomfort. Overall, it’s a great buy but if you’re currently recovering from an injury or if you want to protect your ankles from a serious injury in the future, then you’re going to need a heavy-duty brace for the job.
McDavid 511 Compression Ankle Support
This compression ankle support brace is perfect for mild injuries, muscle strains, and tender muscles. It’s made out of non-neoprene material that’s highly breathable and stretchy, so it won’t have a negative impact on your range of motion. Since it only offers a mild form of protection, it’s not a great choice if you’re currently recovering from an injury.
- Only designed for mild injuries
- Must be washed by hand
This model is perfect for players with a neoprene allergy since it’s made out of non-neoprene materials that are very stretchy, offering a more custom fit. This brace should not be used for serious injuries, however, it’s a great option if you’re dealing with mild inflammation or muscle tenderness.
Kunto Fitness Ankle Brace Compression Support Sleeve
This compression sleeve style brace will apply even pressure across the ankle joint, providing mild relief from sprains, muscle fatigue, and swelling. It’s made out of stretchy material, so you can continue to wear it during strenuous activities. The blend of fabrics used are highly breathable, yet they’re not moisture-wicking, so if you do sweat, the sweat will remain in constant contact with your skin, so it can lead to some discomfort if you wear the brace for several hours at a time.
- Machine washable
- Made out of stretchy material
- Is not made out of moisture-wicking material
- Only provides mild protection
- Only available in one size
This lightweight brace is perfect for those days when you wake up with sore ankles caused by straining the supporting muscles. It can also be used to help minimize swelling and will instantly provide relief from mild strains. Since it doesn’t feature a rigid design, it does not offer the type of protection most players are looking for.
Basketball Ankle Support Buyer’s Guide
Most people aren’t aware that over forty-two percent of high school basketball players injure their ankles during a single season, a fact that makes ankle injuries the most common in this sport. When a player experiences an ankle injury, they become five times more likely to experience this same injury again in the future. Considering how high this injury rate is, most pros recommend taking precautions that can work to lessen your chances of experiencing this injury at some point in your playing career.
Prevention is Key
An athletic trainer will care for this type of injury in a number of ways. The most common is using a brace or taping the ankle, in addition to incorporating strengthening exercises that focus on balance and stretches. However, regardless of how strong your ankles are, there’s no amount of exercise that can work to prevent this type of serious injury.
The only proven effective way to prevent an injury and to minimize the risk of reinjuring your ankle is to wear an ankle support device that’s specifically designed with the basketball player in mind. This type of device will work with your ankle, not against it, so you won’t have to worry about restricted movements. Instead, these devices will allow you to move freely as they protect the joints in your ankles.
But before you begin your search for the right device, it’s very important that you understand the different design options and how they can have an impact on your performance, range of motion, and your ankle strength.
These days, you’ve probably seen plenty of players wearing ankle support devices that lace up, mainly because this type is very low profile. Basically, this type of device works much like a corset and will restrict the ankle’s range of motion, which isn’t exactly ideal if you’re trying to maximize your performance and maintain ankle strength. Additionally, when the normal up and down ankle motion becomes restricted, the ankle will tend to work against the device, which can cause it to lose support rather quickly. These devices became very popular over the years and are often used in place of ankle tape, which tends to lose most of its effectiveness during the first half an hour of physical activity.
A rigid plastic brace is another option. These devices come equipped with a hinge, allowing your ankle to move up and down freely, in order to boost your performance, helping to keep the muscles that support the ankle strong and supple. These devices tend to provide more ankle support compared to the lace-up alternative. This is because the brace works by moving with the ankle, not against it. The big drawback to this option is the fact that the brace is so rigid, meaning they can be incredibly uncomfortable to wear and often feature a bulky design that most players won’t care for.
Flexible Brace and Inserts
Another option for ankle support is a type of brace that offers the softness and low profile look of a lace-up style support device and the performance aspect of a hinged brace. The brace shell is made out of high-performance materials that are very flexible and rely on body heat to allow the brace to mold to the ankle, for a more custom, comfortable fit. The hinged design will allow a player to move around freely, without negatively impacting a player’s range of motion. The cuff will work to restrict any type of excessive ankle twisting or turning, which is what leads to high and low ankle sprains.
Ankle roll guards are one of the latest types of support devices to hit the market and they’ve been proven to be effective in reducing sprains, much more so compared to ankle tape. These guards can offer the perfect level of protection for players who have a history of ankle rolls in the past and even those who just want to avoid this type of serious injury.
Regardless of which style you choose, the ability to compete safely should be your number one priority. If you have a history of ankle injuries, then you should consult an athletic trainer prior to trying one of these devices in order to get recommendations regarding which type will work the best for you and your particular injury.
Ankle Injury Complications
Ankle support devices can prevent many common ankle-related injuries. These injuries can take several weeks or months to heal and they can make you more susceptible to injuries in the future. Ankle injuries are difficult to rehabilitate since the ligaments around the joint are normally stretched and are not able to return to their original length. Even the most supportive basketball shoes are not able to fully protect the ankle from serious sprains, however, there are many leading models on the market that are designed with ankle protection in mind. But more ankle support is needed than what these shoes can provide. Fortunately, this type of protection can be obtained in the form of ankle support devices.
Now, I’ll go over how these braces are categorized, ranging from heavy-duty and moderate support, to light.
There are many reasons why a player will decide to begin using an ankle brace, especially those who have sustained an injury in the past. A player that’s experienced a past injury may have lost ankle stability and function because of the stretched out ligaments. Heavy-duty braces are designed to provide enhanced support for all types of ankle sprains using anatomically correct lateral and medial guards, and exoskeleton and inserts designed to prevent the ankles from rolling in and out. However, as I mentioned earlier, while heavy-duty braces tend to offer the most protection when you play, they’re not the lowest profile option on the market. In fact, many players feel that larger braces tend to slow them down and can have a negative impact on their performance.
Many players will choose the lace-up options because they offer moderate support and allow for maximum freedom of movement on the court. Models with laces and straps are the most commonly used style under this category and can work to provide a decent level of protection on the court while not impacting the player’s ability to move, jump, and run. However, this type of device can take a while to put on and take off.
Many players will opt for lightweight protection just for the peace of mind and a little more ankle stability. These devices often come in the form of a compression sleeve. These sleeves will provide proprioceptive feedback that can make the player feel like they can jump high and run faster. These light supports can be a great choice for players who aren’t looking for heavy-duty ankle protection and support. Some will come with ankle straps attached, which are perfect for players who prefer to wear low-cut shoes. Keep in mind, these light-devices are not able to prevent a serious injury but instead can provide support for muscle and joint soreness.
Obviously, when you’re on the court, you don’t want your mind focused on how uncomfortable your ankles feel. You want a brace you can put on and forget about until the game is over and you’re about to hit the shower. When you’re shopping for an ankle brace, it’s very important that you choose one that’s comfortable and offers an optimal fit. If you buy a brace that’s too loose then it will not provide the type of protection you need on the court. It can also cause painful blisters to form, which will make the brace even more uncomfortable to use.
You also don’t want to use a brace that’s too tight since it can cut off circulation. You should also take into consideration the size of the shoe you wear when you’re shopping around.
When it comes to choosing a model that’s durable, with an ankle support device, it’s often a matter of you get what you pay for. There are some lower-priced models on the market that don’t offer much in terms of durability and protection. If you’re looking for a model that will provide the type of protection you need and one that can withstand use year after year, then make sure you invest in the best model on the market and one that’s clearly designed to last.
Preventing Ankle Injuries in the Future
As you probably already know, an ankle injury in basketball is commonly caused by one player landing on the ankle of another player, during a heated game. Wearing a support device can help to significantly reduce your risk of sustaining this type of serious injury. But as you can see, to prevent this particular type of injury, you’ll need to use a more durable device, not just a compression sleeve, which will not protect the ankles at all, from this specific injury. Of course, you can also roll your ankle when you’re practicing basketball crossover moves, or by simply moving the wrong way trying to get around the offense. But in both cases, you’re going to need more protection than what a compression sleeve can offer.
Aside from wearing the right type of device, you can also practice strengthening exercises that you can incorporate with basic dribbling drills, which will stabilize the muscles around the joint in the ankle. This is done by performing a variety of pre-rehabilitation exercises that are specific to the way you normally move on the court. This can include exercises such as ball lunges, rhythmic dribbling up and down a court, or balancing on a disc.
Regardless of how much time you spend focusing on strengthening the ankle using exercises that are proven effective, your ankle still will not be able to tolerate the type of direct force that comes with another player landing on your ankle.
Can Braces Have a Negative Impact on Ankle Strength?
Many players will worry that their ankles will become weakened by regular brace use. However, as long as the brace that you use doesn’t hinder your range of motion, it will not weaken your ankles in the slightest. Every player needs to spend time in the gym practicing strength training exercises, learning how to dunk, plyometrics, and balancing exercises, without using a brace.
All players should wear a supportive device of some sort to prevent a common ankle injury. Unfortunately, most don’t until they’ve sustained one and only then will they wise up and begin using one to prevent a future injury. These braces can give a player the type of confidence they need to reduce their risk of a re-occurring injury and return to the court safely at their best. All players need the best basketball ankle support braces to stay in top form, remain healthy and active, protect their ankle joints from a serious injury and avoid any future injuries. I’m confident that you’ll find the perfect device in my top ten list, one that can meet your needs on the court and keep you safe and game ready, and off the bench.