How to Buy Athletic Shoes for Kids

Three Methods:Before Buying the ShoesHaving Your Child Try on ShoesSelecting the Right Shoes for Your Child’s Sport

If your child needs athletic shoes, its important to take the time to pick out the most comfortable and well designed shoes so that your child’s movements are not restricted. To do this, you must first measure your child’s feet, have your child try on the shoes, and consider picking out shoes for a specific sport.

Method 1
Before Buying the Shoes

  1. 1
    Measure your child’s feet. Make sure to measure your child’s feet when he is standing, as the bones, muscles, and tissues in his body will actually compress his feet, making them larger when he puts weight on them.[1] To measure your child’s feet you can:
    • Use a tape measure.
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    • Have your child stand on a piece of paper. Trace around his foot using a pencil. Measure this traced image and then compare the length to an online shoe size chart.
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    • Remember to measure your child’s foot at the end of the day. After a day spent walking around, your child’s feet will have naturally expanded. Because of this, you need to by shoes that will still fit after a day of active play.[2]
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    Be aware that your child’s pair of feet may not be the same in size. Measure both of your child’s feet because most people tend to have one foot that is larger than the other. Once you have determined which food is bigger, make sure to use that foot as a reference for which size shoe you should get.
    • The difference will most likely not be large enough that you need to get two different sized shoes.
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    Have your child wear socks when you measure his foot. These should be the socks or style of sock that your child wears most often. Because your child wears socks when he wears shoes, it is important to factor that added padding in when determining the properly sized shoe.
    • Remember to bring a pair of socks to the shoe store when you go to buy shoes so that your child can try the shoes on with the socks he normally wears.
  4. 4
    Determine your child’s foot shape. You can identify your child’s foot shape by doing the “wet test” method. Wet your child’s feet with water and then have him stand on a piece of paper. Look to see if your child has a medium, flat, or high arch (the arch is the area that will be dry in the center of your child’s foot, as the arch should float off of the paper). Consider this when picking out shoes for your child.
    • Low arched feet or flat feet. Feet of this type need shoes that can control the motion. You need to get shoes that have rigid heel counters. Shoes with more foam in the middle are helpful.
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    • High arched feet. Feet of this type are quite rigid. So you need to wear shoes that are meant for running. Get shoes that can absorb the shock of running. You need shoes that are quite flexible and have thick mid-soles.
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    • Neutral feet. Feet of this type can use almost any kind of shoe.
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Method 2
Having Your Child Try on Shoes

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    Choose a good shoe store. Look for a shoe store that offers a variety of reputable shoe brands. You should also consider heading to a specialized shoe store if your child needs a particular kind of athletic shoe, or if your child has flat feet.
    • Look for reputable shoe brands. Buy from well known brands. Make sure that the shoe is sturdy enough to withstand rough usage.
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    Have the salesperson measure your child’s feet. While you have measured your child’s foot, it is also important to have this measurement confirmed by a salesperson who specializes in shoes.
    • Depending on your child’s shoe size and needs, the salesperson may also be able to direct you to a specific style or brand of shoe.
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    Make sure your child can wiggle his toes inside the shoes. Once your child has put the shoe on, there are several ways that you can make sure your child’s toes have enough room. First of all, your child’s toes should not be squished inside the shoes; he should be able to move them freely. Other include:
    • There should be ample space that is as thick as your index finger between the biggest toe and the end of the shoe.
    • Take a look at the heel. It should be stable and sturdy. It should not be able to move in and out of the heel counter.
    • While your child is wearing the shoe, make sure that your child’s foot does not slide back and forth inside.
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    Ask your child to walk around the store to see if he can move comfortably in the shoes. Let him walk, jump, and run. If your notice your child’s heel slipping out of the back, or he is not able to move as easily as normal, you should try a different size of shoe.
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    Ask your child if the shoes are comfortable. While your child might not be able to describe the feeling of the shoes perfectly, listen for words like ‘too tight’, ‘squishing’ or ‘ouch’. These are indicators that the shoes are not a good fit.
    • Uncomfortable shoes can lead to having bunions, calluses, corns, hammer toes, ingrown toenails, etc.

Method 3
Selecting the Right Shoes for Your Child’s Sport

  1. 1
    Assess the available soccer cleats. Soccer shoes, or cleats, should allow your child to run, change direction, and kick easily.
    • Indoor soccer shoes should be flat and made with a non-marking rubber sole.
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    • Outdoor soccer shoes should provide traction on grassy surfaces.
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    Look for extra cushioning in running shoes. Running shoes need to have extra cushioning to promote forward movement, such as running and walking, as well as to prevent sprains, shin splints, and stress fractures. Shoes differ from basic running activities to long-distance running, depending on your child’s sports preference. Look for[3]:
    • A shock-absorbing sole
    • A supportive arch
    • Firm heel support
    • A reasonably flexible forefoot
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    Make sure volleyball shoes have a rubber sole. This gum rubber sole helps kids to keep from sliding around on the gym floor. A slip could lead to a sprained ankle.
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    Look for sturdy tennis shoes. Tennis shoes should be flatter and sturdier than other shoes to allow kids to move from side to side more efficiently. At the same time, they need to provide stability and flexibility for moving forward and backward.
    • Keep in mind that you should select the tennis shoe based on the surface your child will be playing on, be it hard court, grass, or clay. There are some shoes designed to handle any surface.
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    Find basketball shoes that can cushion your child’s feet when they jump. Look for shoes that cushion and stabilize to help your child jump, and land well, when needed.


  • Always make it a point to purchases shoes at the end of the day. This way your feet would have already been slightly swollen. If you buy shoes at the start of the day, it would not be an accurate fit as you want the shoes to fit well all throughout the day.
  • If you can bring your child’s old shoes with you, it would be even better. That way you have a gauge as to what kind of shoes to buy for him or her.
  • If your child has any special needs for sports such as braces or socks, make sure to use them while trying out the shoes. That way you can really get an accurate fit.
  • Make sure to try both shoes on. Put them on properly and lace them up. Wear them for about 10 to 15 minutes to see how they feel. If your child can run in them, it would be even better.
  • Remember that a good fit is very important as ill fitting shoes will cause undue stress on your child’s feet and make them imbalanced.
  • Both feet are never really the same size. So pick a pair in the size of the larger foot.

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Categories: Sports and Fitness | Footwear