Pairing an activity to the right pair of shoes is incredibly important. It is so important that I wish I had taken it more seriously when I first started playing dodgeball.
When you go to a shoe store and tell them you need shoes for dodgeball, they often recommend trainers, or tennis-style shoes. Depending on your type of play, I really do not recommend this. Don’t be an idiot (like I was) and wear skateboarding shoes, this will not end well – I now have a permanent injury on my right foot (big toe) from jumping in improper shoes.
Once I recovered from the initial injury where I had a toe severely bruised and wrecked tendon on the top of my big toe, I went to a friend who is a sneaker-head and asked for his advice. He said I should be wearing basketball shoes. They have grip, ankle support for lateral movements, and cushioning for jumps. Despite their high cost (~$160 CAD in 2013) I bought my first pair of Jordans. I got the melo M9 edition, and they have been the best shoes I have ever owned.
These shoes have stood up to nearly 500 games of dodgeball (3 games/week for 2 years and 5 games/week for a year) and are only just starting to show wear 3 years of abuse later. They’re the only shoes I can wear that do not hurt my toe, and they allow me to play aggressively and pain-free.
I’ve started considering replacing my M9s, and it struck me – I have a bond with these shoes. They picked me up off the bench of injuries and allowed me to play harder, longer, and more times per week. They have seen me progress from having the weakest throw on my team to the strongest. They were there with me even before I started my dodgeball league! Now that they squeak, are scuffed, and have a deep groove in the sole from where my toes dig in, it is time to look at finding their successors.
It is hard to replace such a great pair of shoes, but it is important too that I keep my feet in prime shape so I can continue to play and grow as an athlete. I went to do some preliminary scouting, tried on some lebrons, and Jordan Meo M11s and M12s, but none of them felt quite right. I see a lot of people complaining about going through shoes at an astounding rate (~50 games per pair) but their shoes were <$50. You really do get what you pay for with shoes, and I cannot stress enough that you get proper footwear.
In my opinion, you should be buying the best quality basketball shoes you can afford. The cost per game is dramatically lower and your body will thank you.
Here are my shoes after ~500 games of wear. Aside from scuffs on the toe of the right shoe, and grooves on the insoles from my toes digging in, they still look great. They have started squeaking which makes me think the grip may be fading and it is time to consider new shoes.