Best Gym Shoes for School – Supportive, Durable, and Affordable!

Are you looking for a pair of athletic shoes that your child can wear to gym class? Does your child have a specific foot shape or foot condition that makes it harder to find shoes that fit? I have put together a list of the best gym shoes for school that can fit children with different foot shapes such as narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide feet, and I will show you this list shortly.

Your kids’ shoes need to be supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time. However, the most important factor is that the shoes fit the shape of your child’s feet correctly (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide).

I have noticed that most of the time children’s footwear is chosen based on what is aesthetically pleasing rather than what is more functional for safety and efficient movement. Some parents allow their children to wear Converse, Vans, or Kickers to physical education class, but these shoes don’t provide the correct amount of support or stability.

Some schools have stricter uniform policies which make it harder to find shoes. However, when it comes to gym shoes there are usually no color restrictions.

The Importance of Wearing Proper Footwear to Gym Class

Athletic tennis shoes are specifically made to support your child’s foot and ankle during physical activity, and as a result, they help reduce the risk of fractures and sprains while active. I mention this because I know a lot of children like to wear skateboarding shoes (Converse, Vans) which might be accepted by the school but they are not ideal for gym class.

What Type of Footwear is Best for Gym Class?

The school shoes I recommend provide these 3 important features:

1️⃣ Supportive and Substantial Outsoles: The gym shoes I recommend provide a substantial outsole that will support your child’s feet when performing high-impact activities:


2️⃣ Lightweight and Flexible: Your kids’ shoes need to be supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time. Your kids’ gym shoes should bend at the toes but no further than that. If you can flex your kids’ shoes as a spiral that means that the shoes don’t provide the correct amount of support:


3️⃣ Firm Heel Counters: The shoes need to provide firm heel counters to support and protect your kids’ heels and ankles. Always press on the heel counter of your kids’ gym shoes and make sure it feels firm:


I will show you a list of gym shoes that provide these 3 important features, but before I show you that list let’s make sure that you know your child’s exact foot length and foot shape.

Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape?

If you have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in your area I suggest that you take your child there to be properly measured and fitted for shoes. However, most specialized children’s shoe stores have been closing down lately (even before the pandemic), so parents are increasingly ordering their children’s shoes online.

If you are unsure of your child’s exact foot length and shape I suggest that you follow the instructions in a different article I created.

Now that you know your child’s exact foot length and shape I am going to show you a list of the most supportive, lightweight, flexible, and durable gym school shoes that are capable of fitting children with narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide feet.

Keep in mind that I recommend shoes with shoelaces instead of velcro closure as they provide better support and stability. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. 

Best Gym Shoes for School

The shoes I recommend below are capable of fitting children with narrow, medium (M), wide (W), or extra wide (XW) feet. Make sure that you take a look below the image of each shoe to check what foot shape that specific shoe can accommodate.

Your child’s gym shoes don’t need to be expensive as long as they provide good cushioning and support. When purchasing a pair of sneakers for your child you want to make sure they are going to hold up and provide them with the best support possible.

Looking for Other Shoe Recommendations?

If you are looking for a different shoe style or a different color don’t hesitate to contact me with your child’s foot shape and location and I will provide you with different shoe recommendations: [email protected]

I created a different resource that describes the best back to school shoes for kids.

Keep in mind that there are many leg, ankle and foot injuries that could have been prevented if proper athletic footwear had been worn.

My Child Doesn’t Know How to Tie His/Her Shoes

Making sure that your child’s shoes are properly tied at gym class is a safety issue.

You need to work with your child and help him/her practice this developmentally appropriate skill if they do not have mastery over it. I created a resource that helps parents teach their children how to tie their shoes.

Remember that it’s important that children wear shoes with shoelaces instead of an alternative closure when performing physical activity as they provide better support and stability.

Worst Shoe Brands for Gym Class

Below you can find a list of popular shoes that children like to wear to gym class and that are the worst choice you can make in terms of function and support:

  • Converse
  • Vans
  • Sperry Top-Siders
  • Kickers

While these shoe brands manufacture stylish and popular shoes for children, they don’t provide the correct amount of support and flexibility your child needs when performing high-impact activities. This doesn’t mean that your child can’t wear shoes from those brands occasionally, they just shouldn’t wear them to perform physical activity.

In physical education class, your child’s safety should always come first.  This is why it’s so important that your child wears the appropriate footwear. The correct type of shoes will not only allow your child to participate safely in gym activities but also be successful with those activities.

Uniform enforcement is up to the discretion of the school and the head. Keep in mind that if your child is dealing with a specific foot condition or foot problem that requires him/her to wear specific shoes to accommodate orthotics, for example, you should ask the school to revisit their guidelines.

Let me know in the comments section below if you have found a specific shoe for gym class that has worked well for your child. I am sure other families will benefit from your experiences!