Basketball is a high-impact, fast-paced sport where players make sudden changes in direction throughout the game. Unsurprisingly, knee and ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries for basketball players.
Whether a mild sprain or a more severe one, do not underestimate ankle injuries. One of the best ways to help ensure ankle stability and prevent injury is to wear an ankle brace. An ankle brace will absorb impact, so there is less strain on your ankle when landing, so you don’t roll it. Rolling your ankle is what causes a sprain, so we definitely want to avoid that!
There are many options on the market for ankle braces, and finding the right one can be a hassle. Well, don’t worry because we looked into it for you! Below you will find recommendations for the best ankle support based on different needs. You will also find a buying guide that will inform you of what to look for when buying an ankle brace since there are a handful of factors that go into the decision.
- Best rigid design with no straps
- Ideal for athletes with weak ankles that have experienced injuries in the past
- Great for players who frequently jump and risk ankle trauma, such as front row volleyball players and basketball centers and forwards
Best Ankle Brace for Basketball 2021
The Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer is one of the most popular ankle braces on the market, especially for basketball players. It offers considerable protection without being too bulky--fitting inside any shoe and allowing quick, athletic movements. This brace is probably the best overall brace for minor ankle sprains in terms of style, quality, and functionality and sells for a reasonable price.
A few notable features include the figure-eight design and ballistic nylon boot that aid stability, the bilateral system that allows you to wear the brace on left or right foot interchangeably, the tongue’s light-weight yet durable CoolFlex material, the side straps which completely immobilize your ankle, and comfort provided to the Achilles area.
Each ankle brace is sold separately and manufactured only in the U.S. under high-quality control standards. It is also conveniently machine washable and comes in various sizes from XXS-3XL, the most comprehensive size choice of the braces reviewed.
Many professional and collegiate athletes choose this brace for low-level ankle injuries. It is one of the most recommended ankle supports by athletic trainers, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists. Others may choose it because of its unique combination of comfort, support, and durability.
Play for long hours in comfort with the Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer.
The McDavid 195 Ankle Brace, constructed of polyester fabric, is an excellent option for people who are looking for full support and minimal weight. Bulkier designs can sometimes hinder your movement--but with this sleek and discreet brace, you move so freely it feels like you’re not wearing a brace at all.
Like the feel of athletic tape, the McDavid 195 is light, comfortable, breathable, and adjustable--you don’t even have to remove your shoe. Wear it on either ankle to prevent or recover from injuries. Have arch issues? There is a built-in anatomical arch. Worried about support? The built-in criss-cross straps allow for a secure fit. Many are fans of the nine sets of eyelets, which adds to the stability of the brace.
McDavid is known for delivering excellence. In fact, athletes participating in an independent study at a major research university had 3x fewer injuries when wearing the Mcdavid 195 ankle brace.
Keep in mind, the McDavid 195 Ankle Brace is not as lightweight as a sleeve. However, it offers much more protection than a sleeve, and often this is what people care about most--especially if they have a chronic injury.
Overall, this brace is an excellent product that offers adequate protection while still being lightweight and comfortable.
Offering anterior, lateral, and medial support, the Zamst A2-DX Ankle Brace does a superior job of preventing or lessening the severity of ankle sprains.
This brace is made specifically for athletes and has the most robust support for moderate to severe ankle sprains. The exterior molded support structure and anchor strap prevent the ankle from rolling (inward or outward) and help prevent high ankle sprains. Additionally, the X- Strap Stabilizers with Grip Tech located underneath prevents the foot from shifting forward.
Professional athletes such as Stephen Curry choose Zamst because it is a trustworthy, high quality, heavy-duty product. Curry even credits it for giving him the full confidence to play without the fear of re-injuring himself.
Despite being bulky, this brace is very comfortable due to the extra padding and a-Fit technology, which provides an individualized adjustable fit. Considering that most other braces require break-in for slowly molding to foot, this is a unique advantage,
While a little pricey, you get what you pay for with Zamst. Reviews after reviews rave about this product.
The Bodyprox Ankle Support Brace is the cheapest we’ve seen on the market. However, it is not of low quality.
The open heel design allows for a wide range of motion, and the discreet sleeve design offers comfort and flexibility. The breathable neoprene material retains heat and prevents skin irritation. It is easy to take care of the Bodyprox Ankle Support Brace. If it gets stinky, simply throw it in the washing machine. You can expect this brace to withstand long hours of continuous use with minimal to zero wear and tear.
People love this brace not just because it’s cheap but also because it’s lightweight. While it is not the best lightweight option on the market, it is still adequate. A lot of the time, hardshell braces cause too much immobilization--that is not a problem with this brace! It is also easily adjustable and not challenging to put on--there is no lace-up system. It should fit easily in whatever shoe you like to wear.
Get good support at a great price with Bodyprox Ankle Support Brace.
The McDavid 511 Ankle Sleeve is a super discreet compression sleeve that provides support and relief from pain associated with tendonitis, arthritis, and minor injury.
Made of a non-neoprene knitted elastic, this brace offers support without being as stiff as other, more complex braces. If you lack confidence after an injury and need some support but not a lot, the McDavid 511 Ankle Sleeve might be the one for you.
You can wear the McDavid 511 above or under your socks for hours without any irritations. Those with neoprene allergies should consider this brace!
Please note that sleeves DO NOT prevent ankle rolls, and they can be difficult to pull over a super swollen ankle.
This sleeve is made out of powerful moisture-wicking neoprene with mesh venting that keeps feet dry and eliminates odour. It is comfortable, flexible, discrete, and light. You will also love it because it’s easy to put on--no laces or straps--just slip your foot in!
The sleeve is available in a range of sizes (from small to XXX-large), allowing you to find a fit that’s just right.
If you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund within 30 days of purchase. There is also a one year warranty against manufacturer defects. However, that probably won’t be a problem since SENTEQ is known for its meticulous quality control.
The Ultra Ankle High-5 Ankle Brace has Hinged-Cuff technology that protects the entire joining and restricts excessive ankle inversion or rotation. It is super strong (but also quite light), easy to put on (one strap), forms to your ankle, fits in high top shoes, and can handle the toughest twists and turns.
Individuals with chronic ankle instability due to a history of multiple ankle injuries and athletes and individuals who have recurring joint pain will love this brace. If you play volleyball, football, basketball, or hike a lot, you’re in luck because this brace was made specifically for you!
Fans of this brace report how long lasting and surprisingly light it is as well as the confidence it gave them to get back into the game after a traumatic ankle injury. Trusting your brace is so important and the Ultra Ankle High-5 Ankle Brace has time and time again delivered excellence.
Buy this brace in small, medium, or large and be sure to measure before your ankle before purchasing. Your brace size is different from your shoe size because it’s based on your ankle circumference. Also note that this brace is not machine washable.
Overall, unstable ankles have met their match with the Ultra Ankle High-5 Ankle Brace. While this brace is the most expensive on the list, it also provides maximum protection and isn’t too overbearing. Simply put, you get what you pay for here.
The Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace is a dual rigid brace that offers maximum protection for athletes who play sports that require lots of vertical mobility. Unlike other braces, it does not have wraparound straps, laces, or a sleeve-type design. Instead, it features a bi-lateral hinge design, a single-strap fastening system (that adjusts for either high or low top shoes), and a platform heel that helps stabilize the foot and ankle.
Fitting both the right or left ankle, the Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace is available in Small (Men’s 5-8 ½ and Women’s 6 ½ - 9 ½), Medium (Men’s 9-12 and Women’s 10-13) and Large (Men’s 12 ½ - 16 and Women’s 13 ½ - 16).
The material is 10 times more durable when compared to previous T2 braces so you can play with confidence knowing your brace can withstand the impacts and demands of competitive play. Additionally, the custom moulded EVA padding hugs every contour of the ankle, making this brace super comfortable.
Many people wear this brace with a compression sleeve. If you desire a more comfortable wear, simply insert the brace under your insoles for better cushioning from the plastic base. Additionally, you can thread your outside shoelace through the loop and tie your laces for more support. While this is one of the easiest braces to use, some choose to leave it in their shoe when not wearing it. All you have to do is slip your shoe on and secure the single strap in place.
If you’re looking for a high quality brace to help you recover from a serious ankle injury, are not interested in a bunch of straps or lace, and don’t mind a rigid feel then the Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace is definitely worth considering.
Buyer's Guide - How to Choose the Best Ankle Brace
Several factors went into choosing our list of recommendations, including price, comfort, stability, level of compression, durability, style, material, and seriousness of the injury. Below you will find a buying guide with more details on each of these factors.
Comfort and Material
You’re going to be wearing this brace all afternoon at practice, so it better feel comfortable enough! If a brace fits poorly or is made of the wrong material, you’re not going to be a happy camper. To ensure you brace is as comfortable as possible, consider the following:
- Padding: Extra padding, especially on the plastic support splints, are almost always a good thing.
- Sizing: Ankle braces are typically sized based on shoe size or ankle circumference. Be sure to consult the sizing chart before clicking ‘add to cart’. When sizing is based on your shoe size and the measurement falls between two sizes, choose the larger one.
- Neoprene vs. Fabric or Knit: Neoprene is a flexible material that provides a lot of compression and heat insulation. However, it does not breathe well at all, may be too hot for all day use, and some people are allergic to it. Fabric or knit materials breathe much easier and keep your foot cooler. Obviously, they don’t provide the therapeutic heat of neoprene.
Purpose and Type
Depending on the seriousness of your injury, you may need a sleeve, a brace with a strap, or a lace up ankle brace--which all provide varying levels of support, compression, and protection. Generally, the more discreet a brace, the less support it offers. Below are some more details on the types of ankle braces that are available.
- Sleeves: These are made out of neoprene or knit fabric, provide some protection and moderate compression. They are favorable if you are looking for relief from pain, swelling, inflammation and help those suffering from injury and tendonitis, arthritis, or plantar fasciitis.
- Supports With Straps: Don’t be fooled--these look similar to ankle sleeves but have a strap system over the sleeve that provide additional protection and increased compression. You’ll notice the straps come in either a figure 6 or 8 configuration. The figure 8 provides maximum compression and figure 6 provides extra protection from lateral movement. You’ll also notice some have plastic support splints on the sides to create more rigidity and support.
- Lace Up: Lace up braces lace up just as a shoe does, provide a lot of support, are quite flexible, and easily allow you to customize the tightness from top to bottom. While every athlete may have a slightly different barometer for how tight it is too tight, the general rule of thumb is you want your ankle to feel locked in. Spend some time experimenting to get the perfect amount of compression, without cutting off circulation. If the brace is too tight, your foot may get numb. Too loose and you risk injury.
Durability and Price
You want to make sure your brace will last, especially if you drop a lot of dough on it. Generally, the more money you spend on a brace, the better quality it is and the longer you should expect it to last.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into the details. Check each feature and the quality of materials used before making a choice. Find out about the various manufacturers and their reputation.
Consider your brace like an investment. As with most investments, you’ll want to care for it. Since ankle braces spend a lot of time on your feet, they get smelly. A brace that is machine washable can be a lifesaver.
Taking care of your brace, such as washing it regularly, can help extend its life. Be sure always to read the washing instructions as they are specific to each brace!