“What are those?”, “What does that B stand for?”. This often followed the quizzical looks footward, whenever I walked on the court in the Ball’n Layup. This is often the case when one sports some kicks on the court that are not one of the “Big 3”. So for those that may not be familiar with the Ball’n brand, the company was started in 1991 by Rodney Jeter in Chicago, Illinois and its shoes was most famously seen on the feet of Metta World Peace. The Layup is amongst the brand’s initial group of footwear offerings. So having no prior experience with the brand, I had no idea what to expect as I began my testing of the Layup.
When I took them out of the box and inspected them for the first time, I remember being fairly pleased with the materials and the build quality ( I will get into why I say fairly pleased), considering the price point was an extremely affordable $59.00. The leather feels like a split grain, but nonetheless feels pretty good and is not that stiff cardboard like feel that is seen on some shoes today. The patent-esque portion that wraps around the forefoot and the thin strip of it that wraps around the foot feels fairly stiff, as it should be.
The issue was parallelogram shaped rail of grip tape-esque material on the lateral forefoot. With wear and play, it did become separated from the upper. Considering it ends on a flexion point and is glued on, it didn’t come as a surprise it separated.
Putting the Layup on, my foot was treated to a rather well constructed and comfortable inner. The inner is not satin smooth,but it has a smoothness that can be felt as I ran my hands back and forth. Although there is a raised seem on both sides of the tongue, they didn’t cause me any issue, and the only way they could be detected was to run your hand inside the shoe. Around the heel there is padding, while neither overly plush or notched in key areas, it does this out as it get closer to the footbed in such a way that it would help with keeping that area of the foot locked in place.
The outsole is composed of a hard rubber. The sections of herringbone are composed of a slightly softer, but still very stiff rubber. Though I played indoors for the duration of my testing, the outsole of the Layup is mighty enough to standup to the rigors of outdoor ball. Out of the box, the Layup’s traction was solid, but nothing to write home about. The outsole initially picked up dust and that somewhat inhibited its ability to optimally stick to the floor. Once I had worn the rubber down a bit ,and the herringbone section “broke in” a bit”, the traction seemed to improve. While it was not at the level of the Zooom Kobe VII or the Hyperdunk 2013, it was certainly more than adequate.
The cushioning is provided by a material called D3O in the heel. According to the D3O website:
“D3O materials in their raw state flow freely when moved slowly, but on shock, lock together to absorb and disperse energy, before instantly returning to their flexible state.”
All this sounds good,but does D3O get the job done? In a word, yes. I did notice that in its static state the material is soft, but in actual gameplay oncourt, D3O provided good cushioning. It soaked up impact forces well and in its dynamic state supplies a semi firm ride. I would personally have liked the material to be a little softer in terms of the feel, but my personal preference aside, D3O is a material that is a solid cushioning performer.
The fit offered by the Layup was mostly acceptable. It fits very good around the midfoot, but the fit at the heel is not quite where it needs to be. The Layup does allow for a touch of heel slip on the vertical plane. The issue seems to stem from,in part, the padding around the heel. It is not firm as it needs to be and in short, it doesn’t work well enough with the lacing system and the upper to totally lock my heel down.
Although I was unsure what to expect coming in to this performance test, the Ball’n Layup was a pleasant surprise. The shoe is far from perfect but nonetheless a solid shoe amongst the initial suite of offerings from Ball’n. At a price point of $59, it is a very viable option for those who are willing to try a different brand. The Layup is a shoe I recommend and it makes me look forward to seeing what else the brand has cooked up for its future offerings.
Colorway Tested: Purple/White/Gold
weight: 14.8 oz
Materials/Build Quality: 14.5/20