Volleyball Shoes vs Basketball Shoes: The Key Differences

Want to know what’s the difference between volleyball shoes and basketball shoes?

As an athlete, I can confidently say there are significant differences between the shoes for each sport due to the unique demands of each game.

Let’s delve into the key differences;

Volleyball Shoes vs Basketball Shoes:

Volleyball shoes are made specifically for the types of movements in volleyball – quick side-to-side shuffling, jumping and landing. However, basketball shoes, are built more for running, hard stops and vertical jumps. They have thicker, more padded soles and ankles.

When I first started playing volleyball, I wondered if I could just wear my basketball shoes on the court. I mean, they’re both sports that require lateral movement and jumping, right? Well, not exactly. Both of these shoes are designed for different purposes.

FeatureVolleyball ShoesBasketball Shoes
CushioningLess cushioning for a better court feelLess cushioning for a better court feel
FlexibilityMore flexible for lateral movementLess flexible for support
WeightLighter for quick movementHeavier for support
TractionGood traction for sudden stops and startsGood traction for hard stops and vertical jumps
Ankle supportLess ankle support for better flexibilityMore ankle support for protection

If you wear basketball shoes for volleyball, you’ll likely end up with sore ankles from all the lateral stress. And your feet will feel heavy and clunky trying to make quick cuts.

Volleyball shoes are much lighter, with breathable uppers and mesh panels to keep your feet cool. They also often have features like pivot points under the ball of the foot to help with rotation.

While basketball and volleyball shoes may look similar, they really are designed for different purposes. So, if you want to perform your best and avoid injury, invest in a good pair of volleyball shoes. Your feet and ankles will thank you!

Related Article: Can Volleyball Shoes be Used for Tennis?

Can basketball shoes be used as volleyball shoes?

player wearing volleyball shoes

As a volleyball player, I get this question a lot. The short answer is: Yes. But, it is always recommended to use volleyball shoes if you can.

Here’s are some key differences;

For starters, volleyball shoes are designed specifically for lateral movement, with a gum rubber outsole and pivot point under the ball of the foot. This allows for quick turns, stops and direction changes on the court.

Basketball shoes, on the other hand, are built more for forward motion and jumping. The outsoles typically have a herringbone pattern for traction on wood floors.

Volleyball shoes also tend to be lower cut, for maximum ankle mobility, while most basketball shoes are mid- or high-tops for more ankle support.

The uppers of volleyball shoes are usually made of breathable mesh for ventilation since you’re constantly moving. Basketball shoe uppers prioritize durability and impact protection.

Can regular sneakers be used for volleyball?

Yes, you can technically use regular sneakers for volleyball, but it’s not recommended due to safety and performance reasons.

Volleyball shoes are designed specifically for the sport, offering optimal traction, support, and durability for the intense jumping, landing, and lateral movements involved in the game.

Regular sneakers may lack these features, which could lead to slipping, injury, and decreased performance. It’s worth investing in a pair of volleyball shoes for a safer and more effective playing experience.

While sneakers may seem convenient, for the safety of your ankles and knees, and to improve your performance, volleyball shoes are essential gear for any player. If cost is a concern, you can find good, affordable volleyball shoes from brands like Mizuno, ASICS, and Adidas for under $100.

Are high tops bad for volleyball?

High tops aren’t necessarily bad for volleyball, but they might not be the optimal choice. They can provide extra ankle support, but their weight and restrictive design could limit mobility and agility on the court.

As someone who has been engaged with this sport, I find that volleyball requires a lot of quick, lateral movements and high jumps.

High tops, usually designed for sports like basketball, might provide excellent ankle support, but they can be quite heavy and might limit the agility and flexibility required for volleyball.

The high-cut design could also potentially restrict your foot movement, affecting your speed and quickness. So, while high tops aren’t inherently bad for volleyball, they’re not typically the preferred choice for many players.

Volleyball shoes are specifically designed with lighter materials, a low-cut design for better mobility, and specific features to enhance performance in the sport.

Why do people wear volleyball shoes?

Volleyball Player Jumping

People wear volleyball shoes because they are specifically designed to enhance performance and safety in volleyball. They offer optimal traction, cushioning, stability, and flexibility to support the intense movements involved in the sport.

As a volleyball player, I’ve noticed the importance of having the right footwear. The game involves a lot of rapid, multidirectional movements, quick responses, and jumps. Volleyball shoes are engineered with these specific requirements in mind.

They have a gum rubber sole that provides excellent grip on the court, preventing slips and falls. This traction is essential for making quick, sudden movements and for landing safely after jumps. Moreover, these shoes offer excellent cushioning and shock absorption.

When you’re constantly jumping and landing, the impact on your joints can be significant. The cushioning in volleyball shoes helps to reduce this impact, protecting your feet, ankles, and knees.

The shoe’s design also offers improved stability and flexibility. They’re typically low-cut to allow for a wider range of motion, and they have reinforcements in key areas to provide support where it’s needed most.

Can you wear volleyball shoes for everyday use?

​​While you can wear volleyball shoes for everyday use, it’s generally not recommended. The specific design and materials of volleyball shoes are intended for the court, and regular use may reduce their lifespan and effectiveness during games.

I have observed that volleyball shoes are meticulously designed to optimize performance on the court. They have soles made of a soft gum rubber that provides excellent grip on smooth indoor courts.

Using these shoes on rough outdoor surfaces, or even on indoor surfaces not designed for such shoes, could wear down this special rubber more quickly, reducing their effectiveness when you actually need it for a game.

Furthermore, volleyball shoes tend to have a lot of cushioning to help absorb the impact from jumps. This cushioning might feel excessive or uncomfortable if you’re just walking around or standing for long periods.


Now that you understand the differences, you can make an informed choice about which type of shoe is right for you based on how you play and what you need.

If you frequently play both volleyball and basketball, you may want to invest in a pair of each to maximize your performance and prevent injury.

Kyle Parker

About Author:

I'm Kyle Parker, a former professional volleyball player turned coach. Here, I shares in-depth guides and practical tips to elevate your volleyball game. Learn more...

Leave a Comment