A lightweight athletic shoe includes reinforcing members which provide added strength and lateral support without detracting from breathability, comfort or flexibility. The reinforcing members extend upwardly from between the sole and the upper or opposite sides of the shoe to the forward portion of the lacing opening and comprise a thin, nonstretchable material. The reinforcing members are preferably fabricated as a strip with an interior region having openings and an edge region for stitching the strip to the upper of the shoe. A cross member can extend between and join the reinforcing members to define a unitary locking element. The reinforcing members and the cross member are located at least slightly behind the a line between the first metatarsal head and the fifth metatarsal head of the foot or flexing line of the shoe. An alternate embodiment provides a single lateral side reinforcing member.