Cheerleading is a fast-paced sport featuring high flying tricks, tumbling, and stunting. If you are new to the world of cheerleading, it can all seem very overwhelming. This is especially true when you find out that certain positions on the cheer squad need certain types of shoes. Having one style of shoe (even a pair of cheerleading shoes) isn’t going to necessarily work for every member of the team! Why would your base need a different shoe than the flyer or the spotter? These are all questions that many new cheer moms and dads have had and we hope to answer those questions for you today.
Top Cheerleading Shoe Comparison Chart
Cheerleading can be an amazing team building sport (in more ways than one) and surprisingly beneficial to overall fitness – both cardio and strength! The proper footwear is super important for overall safety. One of the more common injuries is ankle sprains. If you don’t protect your ankles or ensure that you stick a landing, then it is possible that the only thing you will do the whole cheerleading season is just watch from the sidelines!
We’ve chosen the best eight cheerleading shoes that will help you not only look great but most importantly, make sure that you don’t spend your cheer season on the sidelines watching other people cheer while you wait for a bone to heal or a sprain to mend.
How to Choose the Right Cheer Shoe
Choosing the right cheerleading shoes starts with knowing what you’re looking to accomplish. Cheerleading shoes are specially designed by manufacturers to accommodate the acrobatics and special maneuvers done by cheerleaders. As a result, most cheer shoes have special features or terminology not usually discussed on other types of shoes. Here we’re going to go over the features typically found on a cheerleading shoe and what those features do.
Cheerleading Tip: Glutes are one of the backbones to Cheering Success!
Understanding The Terms
This is where the upper shoe is glued to the soul instead of being laced with the supporting board of the shoe. This makes the shoe much more flexible and allows for a wider range of motions when performing cheerleading moves.
A lace locking system available on a pair of cheerleading shoes ensures that the shoelace is tight and secure and will not come loose during the quick diagonal movements associated with cheerleading.
the instep is the top of the shoe and is the area that goes between the toes and the ankle.
The outsole is the bottom of the shoe that will come into contact with the ground. Outsoles will vary widely depending on the cheerleader’s role on the squad.
The midsole is the section of the shoe between the bottom and where the foot sets. This is usually the cushioned layer and will provide most of the shock absorption from the shoe.
A shank is a strip inside of the soul that adds support for the cheerleader’s foot.
The synthetic compound used to make outsoles that are molded by heat and pressure. Cheer shoes are usually made with EVA, ethylene vinyl acetate because it will allow for a much better fit around the foot.
This is the insole of the shoe and is usually removable. The footbed is contoured to provide comfort and support for your foot. The remove ability means that if a cheerleader has specific orthotic requirements, they can use them in their cheer shoes because the footbed is removable.
Indoor or Outdoor
The next element in the design of cheerleading shoes that you’ll want to consider is the primary use of the shoe. Cheer shoes designed to be used outdoors will typically have more tread allowing for firmer traction on the grass than indoor shoes. Those cheer shoes designed to be used on cheer mats or indoors will have different treads on them.
Many shoe manufacturers state whether or not their shoe can be used for indoor or outdoor cheerleading. Some shoes are made as a crossover and can be used as indoor and outdoor cheerleading shoes. It is very important that you do not take a pair of indoor only cheerleading shoes outdoors because of the risk of injury.
The great thing about finger grooves as an element on a cheer shoe is that they are only applicable for flyers. Finger grooves allow a base to grab hold of the foot with greater ease because they are ergonomically designed for exactly this action. Not all flyer shoes will have finger grooves built into them. These are just a nice feature if you can find shoes that have finger grooves — get them.
There are two lengths available for cheer shoes there are ankle-length cheer shoes, and there are over the ankle cheer shoes. Having cheer shoes that come above the ankle will allow for greater stability when performing tumbling tricks. If you have a spot on the squad and you are primarily a tumbler, you may want to consider getting high top cheer shoes. If you are not a tumbler, the regular ankle-length cheer shoes will work just fine for you.
Sideline or Competition?
Many people make a mistake when they are new to cheer that they use the same shoes for competition that they use for the field or sidelines. Why is this a mistake? Field shoes are much heavier than competition shoes. Competition shoes are designed to be extremely lightweight so that way you can move faster than you would at a sideline performance.
Unfortunately, competition shoes give up their durability to provide cheerleaders with the added speed because they’ve lost that extra weight. Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s description carefully, so you know whether or not you are purchasing everyday cheer shoes or performance cheer shoes. It will make a difference.
The final element to consider when purchasing new cheer shoes is the durability of the shoe. If you don’t want to purchase new shoes every two months you want to make sure that you are getting a good field shoe, or shoe that has a high durability rating.
Durability can be even more important for guy cheerleaders because they are typically larger and put more wear on their shoes. Unfortunately, manufacturers of cheerleading shoes do not cater directly to the male cheer population. Many male cheerleaders are forced to purchase female cheer shoes so that they can have an accurately supported foot. If you are guy cheering in a female shoe, the durability of the shoe is going to come into play even more because of the extra wear that will be put on the shoe. Your position on the cheer team, as well as your height and weight, are going to put the cheerleading shoes to the test—make sure they pass!
That’s A Lot Of Info About Shoes!
Because of all the different elements that come into play when purchasing a cheer shoe your first cheer shoe purchase can be a bit overwhelming. It’s okay if you are not feeling quite prepared to make that first cheer shoe selection alone. This buying guide is going to help you identify some of the best brands of cheerleading shoes available on the market today. If you just need a little bit of extra help, we’ve got you covered.
Best Cheerleading Shoes Reviews
Let’s take a look at this year’s top models in cheer show and see what is going to be the best pick for you. Remember the best cheer shoe for you will greatly depend on your position on the cheer squad!
The Vengeance by NFinity is a top-of-the-line competition cheer shoe. The issue is designed only to be worn at a competition. If you purchase this cheer shoe to use for everyday practice, you will be disappointed because they will wear out very quickly. Competition shoes should only be worn at a competition. No outside usage is recommended because it will tear up the shoes.
The nice thing about the Vengeance line is that they have a mesh top allowing your foot to stay cool. The mesh top also allows you to customize with school colors or team colors with your socks which is a nice aesthetic bonus.
Many people have found that this shoe runs extremely small. It is designed to fit really tight to give you support. That being said, many people had to order a size up to get the right fit. It is recommended that you try on these cheer shoes in person before ordering them.
- 9 oz
- Competition Shoe
- Mesh Top
- No outside wear
- Runs Very Small
The Kaepa Stellarlyte cheer shoe is a competition level shoe weighing in at 6 ounces. Because this shoe is designed for competition only, it is not suitable for outdoor use. Kaepa recommends that the shoe is only used on a blue mat or springboard mat. If you plan on using it anywhere else, the shoe will probably break down very fast.
The best thing about this shoe is the stunting control provided with heel notch and finger grooves. The toe also features a solid rubber bumper to allow for tumbling. The shoe is very flexible and is perfect for stunts.
- 6 ounces
- Secure Fit System
- Heel Notch and Finger Grooves
- Indoor Use Only
- Runs Small
Kaepa creates another high-quality cheer shoe with the TouchUp model of cheer shoes. These cheerleading shoes are designed for flyers and have special touch technology that is designed to give immediate feedback between the flyer and base. The nice thing about these shoes is that the stability of the shoe is not compromised by a thinner sole with this sensory feedback.
The touchup shoe is designed for maximum arch support and forefoot flexibility. This makes it an ideal stunting shoe. The heel has enhanced impact absorption designed to keep up with even the most rigorous cheer schedule. These shoes run a bit small so remember to order a size up.
- Secure Fit
- Touch Technology
- Maximum Arch Support
- Runs small
The NFinity Evolution shoe will make a great practice you if you are primarily practicing indoors on a springboard floor. The evolution shoes are not designed to be used outdoors. So you would need an additional pair of shoes if you practice both indoors and outdoors.
As 6.5 ounces the shoes are still extremely light and supportive. The future great arch support as well as ankle lock straps to make sure that the shoe is not going to move while you’re using it.
Like other NFinity shoes, they do run a little small so you may have to size up.
- 5 ounce
- Designed for Spring Floor
- Ankle Lock Technology
- Runs Small
- Not for Outdoor Use
This cheer shoe by Nike is one of the more durable cheerleading shoes available. The synthetic leather and mesh upper are designed to give it support and durability. Many people find that this shoe may get a little hot, especially if they are used to shoes with more mesh.
The Nike women’s sideline weighs 9.7 ounces which may be on the heavy side for cheer shoes. Part of the reason for this extra weight is the double lasted midsole. There is also a non-marking rubber outsole. These shoes have a great pivot point for lasting traction on multiple surfaces. The amount of traction they provide on the multitude of surfaces makes them an ideal practice shoe for both indoors and outdoors.
These cheerleading shoes are a little narrow. The Nike cheer shoes run a little bit small if you have purchased other brands of cheer shoes in the past. Your best bet is to order a size up if you have an extra wide foot or if this is your first time ordering the Nike Sideline.
- Soft Foam Midsole
- Internal Flex Groove
- Customizable Color Cards
- Runs Small Even for Cheer Shoe
These ASICS women’s cheer 8 shoes are ideal for those who need an all-around cheer shoe that is going to hold up to many different conditions. This shoe is designed to be used both on the court and off the court. The cheer 8 is approved for indoor and outdoor use.
Because of the durability of the cheer 8, it is an ideal practice shoe. The shoe is not light enough to be a competition shoe, so if you are looking for competition shoes– look somewhere else – like the Nfinity Vengeance.
These shoes do run true to size. The cheer seven shoes by Asics do run a little narrow. If you have a wide foot, you may need to get a half size up. Other than the narrowness of the shoe they have a great fit. They feature moisture-wicking mesh and EVA midsole. Asics always receives top notch reviews for their court shoes and I’m thinking they’re not so different when it comes to cheers shoes.
- Two Color Card System
- Low-Profile Midsole
- Indoor and Outdoor
- Very Narrow
The NFinity Titan is a wonderful competition shoe featuring a high top to support ankle stability during tumbling and stunting. This shoe weighs in at just over 6 ounces making it perfect for competition. The shoe is designed with an internal rebound to assist the footbed and has metatarsal reinforced high-performance outsole. The Titan is designed to protect the foot during the hard impacts that tumbling can have on the foot.
Because this is a competition style pair of cheerleading shoes, it is not designed for routine practice. If you are getting the shoe to practice in every day, you may find that it wears out faster than you would like. The Titan can be used indoors or outdoors, and the non-stretch material on the top is pretreated to prevent staining.
If you do not do a large amount of tumbling you may find the ankle support of the Titan a little cumbersome. The interlocking high top does provide extreme support for the ankle. If you’re not used to this, it can take some time to get used to.
- High Top
- Designed for Tumbling
- Comes with Carrying Case
- Runs Small
- Not Designed For Regular Use
These Adidas cheer shoes are all synthetic (which is a very good thing) which enhance lightness and durability. They feature ADIPRENE+ (Adidas’ proprietary cushioning and propulsion foam) to help maximize efficiency, comfort, and propulsion. You can see they contain mostly a mesh covering for breathability. Unlike other cheer shoes, these do not run small. If you are used to ordering cheer shoes a couple of sizes up you may find that these are too big. These are a true-to-size cheer shoe. Users with wide feet reported these were the most comfortable shoes they’ve EVER owned.
Reports from users are nearly unanimous when it comes to comfort. They do excel!
- Not for High Arches
- Runs a half size too small according to some users (though even more reported true to size)
Though it’s not stated directly in the promotional data online, the SmartFit Sizzle Track shoes ARE in fact, cheer shoes and virtually 100% of purchasers have bought these for cheerleading. Not only that, but the accolades are noteworthy. As expected, they are very light, and have a non-marking and skid-resistant outsole. Smartfit makes a big deal about their shoes having “wiggle room for toes”. It sounds to me like they’d be a bit loose in the forefoot, but users swear by their comfort. As with most cheer shoes, the reviews were mixed with regards to whether or not they are true to size. It looks like it’s a bit of a gamble, but you can always return them for another size.
The reason these made it to our list is the value aspect. They’re the most economically priced shoe, starting around $20. The price can’t be beat, and even they don’t last for years, you’ll get your money’s worth before they fall apart (if they ever do!).
- Exceptionally well priced
- Competition Shoes
- Not super durable
The Nike Unite Cheer Shoes are and all-purpose practice cheer shoe. These can be used both indoors and outdoors and are double-lasted to increase the durability of the shoe.
If you are looking for a wonderful practice shoe the Nike unite is an ideal shoe to purchase. The shoes offer high flexibility and sturdy rubber soles allowing them the ability to hold up to rigorous practice.
Unlike most cheer shoes these can run a little large so be careful when ordering these cheer shoes. Like many other cheer shoes, the Nike Unite shoes are narrow and not designed for very wide feet. If you have wide feet you may need to order a half size up.
- Double Lasted Midsole
- High Flexibility
- Very Narrow
- Run Large
One Big Tip
In addition to working out your core and sporting the right shoes, there’s one thing (in our opinion) you absolutely MUST do. You must focus at least a portion of your workout routine to your butt! Yes, your glutes are one of the backbones (along with your backbone) to your success as a cheerleader. In addition to the fact that every human on the planet wants to see (and have) a great butt, strong glutes form a foundation to allow you to develop your legs, core, and arms. If you’d like to rise above, we’d suggest checking out this offer we’ve become fond of!
You Got the Right Shoes, but now they’re DIRTY!
Finding the right cheer shoe may take some experimenting. Because cheer shoes are designed to work with the specific position that you play on the cheer squad it is important to read up on the cheer shoe you are choosing. If you are a flyer don’t choose a shoe that is designed for base. The same is true about tumblers and bases.
The best shoe for cheer competition was the NFinity vengeance. The lightweight construction of the shoes is almost unbelievable. If you are looking for an all-around practice shoe than the Kaepa TouchUp shoe is going to be the best investment that you can make. This shoe is designed for high impact making it great for flyers and tumblers.
Cheerleading Shoes Takeaway!
Remember, while you can practice in competition shoes, most people own two or three pairs of cheer shoes to use depending on the various cheer activity they will be doing. Competition shoes should really be reserved for competition. Finding an all-around practice shoe will save you money and frustration because you will not be replacing your cheer shoes quite as often. Whichever shoe you choose, get out there and cheer!