Back in 2012, when Knicks fans still had a shred of hope for the team, they played against Miami heat in the playoffs. Game 4 went on to be their only win in the series, but that’s not the most memorable part of this game.
At 51 to 50, the Knicks were only behind by one point. Baron Davis, one of the team’s core players, managed to catch a rebound. Fans held their breath as he made his way up the court. Just as he crosses the free throw line, his arm extends, and then he collapses.
Davis lost his position on the team, and was still in rehab several years later. Not only was this a career ending injury, but it lives on as one of the most cringe-worthy moments in the history of Basketball.
Moments like these are remembered for years to come. That’s because they are unusual. Basketball, compared to other sports, is pretty safe. Basketball players don’t wear helmets, or knee pads.
If this injury happened during a rugby or hockey game, we wouldn’t be talking about it today. For other sports, it’s just considered part of the game.
How many memorable ankle sprains can you think of? Chances are, you wouldn’t be able to list them all.
Whether you’re a professional player, or you just like to play a little five on five you’ve probably rolled your ankle at one time or another and you know that treating one is no fun.
The problem is, every time you receive an ankle injury, you increase the chances or re-injuring yourself in the future.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, players with a history of ankle injury were “five times more likely” to sustain another. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to protect your ankles.
An ankle support is the best way to do so.
The question is, which one do you choose?
There are so many options out there, trying to find the right one can be a little overwhelming. Let’s take a look at what the pros use, and see if we can find the one that will work for you.
Even though this is a basketball site, you can use any of the following options while playing soccer, football, volleyball, etc.
Top 4 Ankle Braces for Basketball Players
Zamst A2-DX Ankle Brace
As the first choice for Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry, it’s no wonder that this one is such a popular choice.
It’s unique construction and natural feel is loved by professionals and amateurs alike, with many users claiming that is lightyears ahead of the competition.
But what exactly makes it so popular? Let’s go in-depth to find out.
Zamst refers to the dual-molded exterior as “Exo-Grid.” What this means is that it uses both solid and malleable material in construction.
There are three layers to the construction.
On the bottom, you’ve got a sock like sleeve that slips over your ankle. This portion only provides a low level of support, and is used primarily for comfort.
Above it, you’ll find the elastic wrap. This acts like tape, distributing unwanted pressure across a large surface area.
The third layer is the plastic portion of the brace. This is the component that separates a sports brace from a simple ergonomic model.
Unlike the fabric portion, this plastic brace is extremely rigid and taut. It does have some flexibility for comfort purposes, but it can still take a great deal of force.
When you mis-step and twist your ankle in an undesirable way, this brace will take the weight off the joint, preventing injury.
When selecting a brace, you’re usually forced to choose between one of two contrasting options.
The soft models are the most comfortable, and the least restrictive. But this comes at the expense of support.
On the other hand, you’ve got the hard-plastic models. With these, your ankle is restricted to a very specific range of motion. Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll hurt yourself, most users find these to be a little restrictive.
The A2-DX is one of the few braces that gives you the best of both worlds. You really don’t feel the plastic brace.
You’ll immediately notice the supportive nature of the fabric banding, but the plastic brace is almost loose.
Thanks to the stainless-steel joint, it moves with the natural range of motion of your foot. But the moment you start to move your ankle in an unnatural way, you can start to feel the force of the plastic brace.
It’s almost as if your ankle is being gripped, providing adequate support just when you need it.
From a professional standpoint, the design of the A2-DX is really quite unique. In many ways, it’s ergonomics are very similar in nature to your own natural joints.
Your ankle feels as if it can move freely.
It’s not until you begin to cross a certain threshold that you begin to feel pressure, and this brace operates the same way.
That being said, there is one small downside to something that tries to closely replicate an ergonomic process. Everyone is different. One ankle doesn’t behave the same as another.
To correct this, Zamst made this brace very adaptable.
There are three different sizes available, and the brace can be adjusted within a certain range. You can change the tightness of the bands, providing additional support anywhere you feel you need it.
This does require a little awareness of your own body.
If you have some experience using braces, you’ll know how it should feel and where you need the most support.
If you’re new, we’d recommend taking time to play with the adjustments during warm up, so you can find what works best for your ankle.
McDavid 195 Ankle Brace
The 195 operates using the same principles as athletic tape, with some upgrades.
The goal with this brace was to create something that offered an additional level of protection, while remaining lightweight and adaptable.
Although it’s designed specifically for basketball players, it’s adaptable nature has made it popular among runners who live the comfortable, lightweight feel to it.
Although this brace is made from a single-layer wrap, there are really two components at work.
At the bottom, you’ve got a lace up sleeve that fits your ankle like a toeless sock. It’s made from incredibly durable nylon.
Nylon is soft, and offers a large range of motion within a certain threshold. But once it becomes taught, it’s a very strong material.
Surrounding the nylon sleeve is a flexible band that replicates the functionality a figure-6 taping pattern.
When you’re running up the court or landing from a jump, it’s easy to lean into one side of your foot.
This band helps distribute the pressure a little more evenly across your foot, reducing discomfort.
The main advantage of this style is that the brace is incredibly durable. It lasts much longer than models that use a mechanical joint.
All of the areas with the highest potential for damage have been reinforced.
This means rings around the lace holes and double stitching when required. It just may be the one piece of sporting equipment you have for many years to come.
Although the fit felt a little tight at first, we grew to love the design of the 195.
You can definitely feel the strengthening effect of the brace, even during simple maneuvers.
While this isn’t the only brace of this style available, what we liked about this particular model was how it’s cut off in the center of your arch.
This keeps your toes completely free. With longer braces, we felt as if we were wearing new pair of basketball shoes that just weren’t quite broken in.
With this design, we were able to control ourselves a lot more while in motion.
Between the stretchable band and the nylon sleeve, this brace provides a little more support than a standard wrap.
But where the real support comes from is the second nylon strap sewed across your ankle.
During normal use, it seems almost as if it’s a little loose. But when you begin to push the limitations of your flexibility, it grabs tight and restriction motion.
For this reason specifically, this option is much safer than a wrap.
Cramer Active Ankle T1 Rigid Ankle Brace
If you’ve already had a few ankle injuries, you know how easy it can be for them to reoccur.
If you’re at high risk for injury, or even still in recovery for one, it’s essential that you take steps to prevent this from happening.
The T1 Rigid Brace is much more robust than other models on the market, but it is one of the safest options out there.
The T1 is designed to act a second joint.
A rigid plastic support is strapped to your leg with both Velcro and elastic.
On the bottom, a solid guide sits below your foot.
These two components are joined together with a stainless-steel joint.
This provides effortless movement forward and backward, but restricts side to side motion.
Although the feeling is quite mechanical, the build quality on this model is second to none.
Even when excessive pressure is applied in either direction, it remains strong and provides the support you need.
Although the brace is quite rigid, Cramer went above and beyond to make sure that it’s still comfortable to wear.
All components are lined with Neoprene.
This is the very same material that is used to make wetsuits for divers.
Neoprene is incredibly soft, and adapts to the shape of your body. One of the added benefits of this material is that it is moisture wicking, and doesn’t get unreasonably sweaty.
Speaking strictly in terms of injury prevention, this is the most effective option on the market.
That being said, it does restrict natural movement a little. Some people may find it takes a while to get used to.
When you injure your ankle, you have pushed its range of motion past it’s natural limitations.
After a number of injuries, it’s possible to re-injure yourself performing a motion that, at one time, would have been fine.
If you’re currently healing, this level of support is absolutely necessary.
That being said, there are situations where a brace like this would be suitable for players who have healthy ankles.
If you’re just starting out and haven’t learned correct form, a brace like this can help you learn to perform maneuvers within a safe range of motion.
Runner Up: ASO Ankle Stabilizer
The ASO Stabilizer doesn’t offer the same level of protection as a fully functional brace, but it’s still much better than tape.
If you’re just a casual player, or don’t like the feel of braces, you might want to consider an option like this. A stabilizer is often much more affordable than a brace, and it feels very natural to wear.
Which One is Right for Me?
Still not sure which one to choose?
There are certainly a lot of factors to consider, but the decision can be quite simple. The option you choose depends on how aggressive of a player you are, and what your chances of injury are.
If you haven’t had a serious injury before, the Zamst A2-DX Ankle Brace is a great option. Suitable for all players, both new and experienced, this would be our first choice.
It’s dual molded exterior gives you the support of a hard brace, with the comfort of a soft one.
If you prefer a softer brace that doesn’t restrict your motion, we’d recommend the McDavid 195 Ankle Brace. T
his option is ideal for people who are experienced at basketball, and understand their own physical limitations.
For those of you who are recovering from an injury, the Active Ankle T1 Ridgid Ankle Brace is the safest option.
Although it’s a little more restrictive than some models, it allows you to keep yourself active while you recover from an unexpected injury.
While this may not be your primary brace, it’s one of the most affordable option on the market. For that reason, we’d say it has pretty good value.
No matter which option you choose, wearing support is one of the best decisions you can make.
Nearly every basketball player, both experienced and new, has rolled their ankle before. It’s so common, that we don’t think of this as a serious injury.
For the most part, we can just walk it off. But the unfortunate reality is that, with a bit of bad luck, a serious ankle injury can have you benched for the rest of the season.
If you take your game seriously, it’s essential that you take your body seriously as well. In our eyes, our ankle brace is just as important to us as our shoes.