What are the best sports shoes for my kids?

Ah, the joy of parenting. You want to get the right shoes for your kids but, at the rate they grow, it can become an expensive exercise. So here’s the low down on boots, shoes and runners for kids (hint: the most expensive shoe isn’t always the best one for the job).

Football boots

  • Comfortable fit: there’s not much room in boots as it is so finding the right shape for your child’s foot is vital
  • Short studs: major injuries (eg. cruciate ligament rupture) often occur when studs grip the ground so firmly that something else has to give. Short studs will grip just fine in most situations and can reduce the chance of major (and expensive) bone, muscle and ligament injuries.
  • For more considerations including material and weight, see Choosing the Perfect Football Boots

Netball shoes

  • Unique demands of netball: netball-specific shoes (eg. Asics Netburners) are designed to land and stop, with very effective stability assistance built in to the shoe. The same can’t be said for many running shoes, so stick to purpose built shoes. They are also more durable and resistant to damage from dragging toes, so they’ll last longer and make up for the additional expense.
  • Wear them before the season starts: although netball shoes will probably only get used for netball training and games, think about using them for school sports and some general activity before taking them to the court. This will help wear down the grip a little and reduce the chance of tearing muscles and soft tissues as well as knee injuries associated with the foot ‘sticking’ while the leg twists.

Running shoes

  • For kids up to 10 years: go for a durable comfortable shoe with nice cushioning, nothing too fancy needed.
  • From 10 to 12-ish years: go for a cushioned shoe with a bit of structure and support to it. As your child has growth spurts, they’ll need a bit of support while they move like a newborn giraffe to avoid overloading ankle and knee joints.
  • 12-16 years: these shoes will resemble your classic adult runner, with the amount of support tailored to your teenager’s biomechanics (for info on selecting support levels, click here). A higher heel-to-toe offset (difference between heel and forefoot height of shoe, ideally >8mm) can alleviate tight calves experienced during growth periods (you can search for heel-toe offset via Running Warehouse).