What Is The Difference Between Volleyball Shoes And Basketball Shoes?

Have you ever wondered how volleyball and basketball shoes differ from each other? Here’s where you find out!

We tested and reviewed several models to give you this informative rundown on the differences between volleyball shoes and basketball shoes, and yes, their similarities. Because despite their undeniable differences, you would be surprised that both shoe designs actually have many things in common.  

So, if you’re ready to dive into the world of sports footwear, lace up and get ready to explore the differences between volleyball shoes and basketball shoes. Read on to unravel the characteristics that set volleyball shoes and basketball shoes apart!

Are Volleyball Shoes And Basketball Shoes The Same?

In a word: no. There are definitely distinctions between volleyball and basketball shoes. But some might argue that these differences are generally minor. Furthermore, the differences between both types of shoes aren’t universally applicable.

So while shoes marketed for volleyball and basketball players may be different in certain key aspects, these differences may or may not matter to you. 

We should also mention that there is a certain degree of overlap between both types of shoes. And in recent years, volleyball and basketball shoe designs have become more and more similar. 

Related: Can You Use Basketball Shoes For Volleyball?

Volleyball and Basketball Shoes: Key Differences Revealed!

Volleyball and basketball shoes differ in a few main aspects, namely:

  • Materials 
  • Weight
  • Cushioning
  • Variety and Availability
  • Price


Most basketball and volleyball shoes have the same materials in common: synthetic mesh uppers, rubber outsoles, and foam midsoles. However, there are often important distinctions in terms of how these materials are used. 

It should also be noted that many basketball shoes incorporate leather and canvas, which aren’t often seen in volleyball shows. However, there are also many basketball shoes that utilize materials similar to those used in volleyball shoes.


On average, basketball shoes are slightly heavier volleyball shoes. This is primarily due to their higher uppers and thicker midsoles, which incorporate additional cushioning. 

Despite the increased weight, most basketball shoes still provide a lightweight and springy feel. Furthermore, the extra weight probably won’t hinder your spike height. Research shows that the weight of a shoe has no effect on vertical jump performance.


The primary difference between volleyball and basketball shoes is the cushioning employed in the midsole.

Volleyball shoes typically feature minimal cushioning, resulting in thinner and lighter midsoles. In contrast, many basketball shoes use pack a lot of materials in the midsole to enhance shock absorption.

Variety and Availability

The volleyball shoe market is tiny compared to the basketball shoe industry. Basketball shoes used to make up 13% of the athletic shoe market. But volleyball shoes hardly even register a blip on the radar.

You know how in the NBA each player has their own shoe line? Well, there are currently 22 players with their own signature basketball shoes. In contrast, you would probably be hard-pressed to find 22 different types of volleyball shoes on the market!

In the NBA alone, nearly 300 different basketball shoe models were worn this season. Basketball players clearly have a ton of options to choose from. 

On the other hand, if you’re a volleyball player trying to find the perfect pair, it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

For example, the Nike Hypersets that everyone is going crazy for have been sold out for months! Good luck trying to find a pair! 


Interestingly, while the highest-end basketball shoes tend to be more expensive than the priciest volleyball shoes, basketball shoes are generally slightly cheaper. Moreover, it’s worth noting that budget-friendly basketball shoes are more readily available compared to budget options for volleyball shoes, which are relatively uncommon.

Also Check: Can You Use Basketball Shoes For Hockey?

Why Choosing the Right Shoe is so Crucial 

Selecting the appropriate footwear for a specific sport is crucial for both maximizing enjoyment and minimizing the risk of injury.

Nevertheless, there are certain shoes that can be suitable for multiple activities. Basketball shoes, in particular, are often utilized for volleyball, even by university-level players. 

These shoes offer a comfortable fit, excellent lateral support, and enable agile footwork, making them a viable and practical choice for volleyball players across various skill levels.

However, it’s important to note that basketball shoes may not match the performance of the top-quality volleyball shoes specifically designed for the sport. Watch professional volleyball players in action, and it’s apparent that very few of them‒if any‒wear basketball shoes. 

This is not merely a coincidence or a matter of branding and personal preference. To perform at the highest level in any sport, it is essential to take into account the specific movements that characterize that sport.

To fully comprehend the impact of volleyball on both basketball and volleyball shoes, it is necessary to consider two critical aspects:

1. Dynamic movement: Volleyball involves a unique set of dynamic movements such as jumping, lateral shuffling, quick changes in direction, and explosive bursts of speed. 

Shoes designed specifically for volleyball are engineered to provide the necessary support, stability, and cushioning to optimize performance during these specific movements.

2. Injury prevention: The design of volleyball shoes prioritizes injury prevention by incorporating features like reinforced toe caps, ankle support, and advanced traction patterns that cater to the demands of the sport. These features help reduce the risk of common volleyball-related injuries such as ankle sprains and excessive impact on joints.

Considering these factors, it becomes clear why professional volleyball players rely on dedicated volleyball shoes to meet the unique demands of their sport, as they provide the best performance and injury prevention capabilities.

Check Out: Are Basketball Shoes Good For Pickleball?

How to Tell if a Shoe is for Volleyball or Basketball

It can be difficult to tell if a particular shoe is better suited for volleyball or basketball. If you’re unsure whether a shoe is the appropriate choice for either sport, here are some factors that could help you differentiate between the two:

1. Outsole pattern: Check the pattern on the outsole of the shoe. Volleyball shoes typically have a herringbone or gum rubber pattern. This pattern provides excellent traction on indoor court surfaces, allowing for quick lateral movements. 

On the other hand, basketball shoes often feature a multidirectional or modified herringbone pattern that is optimized for the frequent starts, stops, and pivots on the basketball court.

2. Midsole cushioning: Pay attention to the midsole cushioning of the shoe. Basketball shoes generally have thicker and more responsive midsoles to absorb impact from jumps and provide optimal support during high-intensity movements. 

Volleyball shoes, on the other hand, tend to have thinner and lighter midsoles to promote agility and quick transitions on the court.

3. Ankle support: Consider the level of ankle support provided by the shoe. Basketball shoes often have higher collars or built-in ankle straps to provide stability and prevent ankle injuries during aggressive play. 

Volleyball shoes, while they may offer some ankle support, typically have lower-cut designs to allow for increased freedom of movement and flexibility.

4. Specific features: Look for any sport-specific features. Volleyball shoes may have added features like extra padding in the forefoot area to enhance cushioning during jumping and landing. Basketball shoes might have features like reinforced toe caps for added durability during frequent stops and changes of direction.

Remember, while these factors can be helpful, there may be exceptions and variations among different shoe models. It’s always a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or consult with a knowledgeable salesperson about a particular shoe’s intended purpose.

Volleyball Shoes vs. Basketball Shoes: Which is Better?

The question of whether volleyball shoes or basketball shoes are better ultimately depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual athlete. Both types of shoes are designed to optimize performance and provide support in their respective sports. 

Some of the most important factors to consider when deciding which option may be more suitable for you are:

  • Traction
  • Cushioning
  • Ankle support
  • Specific features

1. Traction: Most volleyball and basketball shoes excellent traction to suit the playing surfaces often used in the respective sports. 

That being said, the herringbone or gum rubber patterns used in many volleyball shoes are designed specifically to provide optimal traction on smooth surfaces. 

In contrast, many basketball shoes have multidirectional or modified herringbone patterns. These are better suited to frequent changes in direction and quick movements on the basketball court.

2. Cushioning: Basketball shoes typically offer more cushioning and impact absorption in the midsole. These are helpful for the high-intensity jumps and landings involved in the sport. 

Volleyball shoes, on the other hand, have lighter and thinner midsoles. These tend to enhance agility and responsiveness.

3. Ankle support: Basketball shoes commonly feature higher collars or ankle straps. These provide enhanced ankle support and stability during intense movements and quick cuts on the court.

Volleyball shoes usually have lower-cut designs. These allow for increased flexibility and freedom of movement.

4. Specific features: Consider any sport-specific features that may be advantageous to your playing style. 

Volleyball shoes may have added features like extra padding in the forefoot area for improved cushioning during jumping and landing. Basketball shoes may incorporate reinforced toe caps for durability during frequent stops and changes of direction.

It’s important to try on different models and brands of shoes to see which ones fit your feet comfortably and provide the desired support. Ultimately, the better choice depends on individual preferences, playing style, and the specific demands of the sport.

Can I Use Basketball Shoes to Play Volleyball?

Absolutely! Basketball shoes can be a suitable option for playing volleyball. While they may not provide the exact same benefits as specialized volleyball shoes, they can still be a reliable substitute and perform well on both volleyball and basketball courts.

With the wide variety of basketball shoe options available, you won’t have any difficulty finding a pair that can effectively provide the necessary support for volleyball. 

Many basketball shoes offer excellent traction, cushioning, and stability, which are essential for both sports. As a result, basketball shoes can provide the necessary grip for quick lateral movements and offer sufficient impact absorption for jumps and landings.

Do you already have a pair of basketball shoes that fit you comfortably and meet your performance requirements? There’s no reason why you can’t use them for playing volleyball.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to prioritize comfort, support, and the specific needs of your playing style when selecting the right shoes for any sport.

Here are some suggestions for basketball shoes that may be suitable for volleyball:

basketball shoes that may be suitable for volleyball

Things to Avoid When Shopping for Basketball Shoes for Volleyball

As stated, some basketball shoes can be used for volleyball. But they may not necessarily be the best choice for the sport. 

Of course, there are many more basketball shoes than volleyball shoes on the market. For this reason, you may have to look around in the basketball section when searching for suitable footwear for volleyball. 

Here are some gotchas to avoid if you’re choosing from basketball shoe selections for volleyball: 

Heel Caging

“Heel caging” is the bulky and protective cage around the heel of the shoe. This gives basketball shoes a cumbersome and boot-like feel, which makes the shoe heavier. 

Here’s an example of bulky heel caging in a basketball shoe. Although suitable for basketball, this feature can make the shoe feel slower and less responsive for volleyball. 

Excess Weight

Weight alone doesn’t determine the suitability of a shoe for volleyball. Even relatively heavy shoes can still be suitable as long as it provides a lightweight and athletic feel when worn.

Thin Midsole

A thin midsole often equates to weak cushioning. Although this probably isn’t much of an issue for positions such as a libero or a setter, the reduced cushioning might be a drawback for spikers.

Can I Use Volleyball Shoes to Play Basketball?

Flipping the question around, can volleyball shoes be used for basketball? Again, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

While volleyball shoes are designed specifically for the demands of volleyball, they can be used to play basketball in certain situations. Volleyball shoes typically have lightweight construction, excellent lateral support, and superior traction, all of which can be beneficial for basketball players. 

That being said, it’s important to note that volleyball shoes may not provide the same level of cushioning and ankle support as basketball shoes. 

Remember that basketball shoes are designed to withstand the high-impact jumps and frequent changes in direction that are common in basketball. Most have thicker midsoles and higher collars to offer enhanced cushioning and ankle stability.

If you choose to use volleyball shoes for basketball, keep in mind the potential differences in support and cushioning. It might be a good idea to go for volleyball shoes with additional cushioning. 

Alternatively, you could add custom insoles for extra comfort and impact absorption. You should always be mindful of your comfort and safety during the game and listen to what your body is telling you.

The bottom-line is that volleyball shoes can serve as a temporary substitute for basketball shoes. However, it is generally recommended to use basketball-specific shoes for optimal performance, support, and injury prevention in basketball games.

Here are some suggestions for volleyball shoes that may be suitable for basketball:

volleyball shoes that may be suitable for basketball

Why Don’t Basketball Players Wear Volleyball Shoes?

If you’re still reading this article at this point, it should be clear that volleyball shoes can be used for basketball. But this brings up the question: “Why don’t more basketball players wear volleyball shoes?”

As mentioned previously, not all volleyball shoes provide the necessary support and cushioning that basketball players need. Some do, but not all of them.

It can be argued that basketball involves a lot more running, jumping, and changes in direction than volleyball, so a more robust and protective shoe is often preferred. So while some models of volleyball shoes may be suitable for basketball, a shoe designed specifically for basketball is probably the better choice. 

Perhaps the most significant reason is that there are so many more basketball shoes available on the market as compared to volleyball shoes. Therefore, most players won’t have to resort to using volleyball shoes. 


It can’t be argued that there are many similarities between volleyball shoes and basketball shoes. However, it’s just as apparent that many are distinct from each other in terms of design, features, and performance.

Volleyball shoes are specifically tailored to the dynamic movements, quick changes in direction, and jumping demands of the sport. Features such as cushioning, stability, ankle support, and traction patterns enhance performance and reduce the risk of injuries common in volleyball. 

On the other hand, basketball shoes are generally optimized for lateral movement, quick cuts, and impact absorption. While it is possible to use basketball shoes for volleyball, dedicated volleyball shoes are recommended for optimal performance and injury prevention, especially at higher levels of play.

Understanding the differences between these two types of footwear allows athletes to make informed choices. As a result, it becomes much easier to select the most suitable shoes for their specific sport.


1. What are the risks of wearing the wrong type of shoes for a specific sport?

Wearing the wrong type of shoes for a sport can increase the risk of injuries. Each sport places unique demands on the feet, and specialized shoes are designed to provide the necessary support, stability, cushioning, and traction to mitigate the risk of injuries associated with that particular sport.

2. Can I use volleyball shoes for other activities or sports?

Volleyball shoes are primarily designed for volleyball and may not offer the same performance or features required for other activities or sports. It is generally recommended to use sport-specific shoes to optimize performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

3. What should I look for in volleyball shoes?

When choosing volleyball shoes, look for features such as cushioning for shock absorption, stability for lateral movements, ankle support, breathable materials, and specialized traction patterns designed for indoor court surfaces.

4. Are volleyball shoes more expensive than basketball shoes?

The price of volleyball shoes and basketball shoes can vary depending on the brand, model, and features offered. In general, high-quality specialized shoes for any sport tend to be priced similarly, but there can be variations based on specific brand and model choices.

5. Can I use volleyball shoes for everyday casual wear?

Volleyball shoes are designed for sports performance and may not provide the same comfort, style, or versatility as casual footwear. While it is possible to wear them casually, it is recommended to use them primarily for their intended purpose to maintain their performance and longevity.

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