So you want to know if you can wear those old running shoes on the volleyball court…
Just how important is it to fork out a bunch of cash for a new pair of volleyball shoes?
Running shoes are simply not a good idea for playing volleyball in because of their lack of court traction, lateral support, and cushioning.
Having said all that, depending on the state of your running shoes and exactly what kind you’ve got, it likely won’t be the end of the world to wear them for volleyball every now and then.
But if you’re playing volleyball regularly, investing in a decent pair of volleyball shoes is going to be a really wise idea.
In this article I’ll explain exactly why running shoes will eventually cause problems for you on the volleyball court so you can better understand the importance of volleyball shoes.
Why Running Shoes Are Not Good For Volleyball
Running shoes are designed very differently from volleyball shoes with completely different purposes in mind.
As such, they have completely different characteristics which makes them highly inefficient when used interchangeably.
Below I’ll unpack the 3 main reasons why running shoes aren’t ideal for volleyball.
Inadequate Lateral Support
Running shoes are designed with a very thin, lightweight, and breathable upper material which promotes flexibility throughout the forefoot.
They’re almost always a low top design too which helps keep the weight down.
Running is a fairly safe, repetitive movement that doesn’t require a ton of lateral stability, so running shoes tend not to put much emphasis in this area.
Volleyball requires a lot of quick lateral movements and fast changes of direction, as well as jumping.
Volleyball shoes therefore usually have reinforced/padded sides which increase lateral stability and containment, making it harder for you to roll your ankle.
Many volleyball shoes are becoming mid tops to increase this protection around the sides of the ankles.
When you play volleyball in running shoes, there’s a constant fear of planting your foot awkwardly and your ankle rolling.
This fear inhibits your ability to perform with confidence, power, and precision.
When wearing volleyball shoes, you’ll feel a much greater sense of stability and support as a result of the thicker material on the outsides of the midsole.
This will translate into greater safety, greater confidence, and greater performance.
The outsoles vary quite a lot between running shoes and volleyball shoes too.
Running shoe outsoles are made of a completely different material like carbon rubber which is highly durable and is designed to weather the elements outdoors.
Volleyball shoe outsoles are usually made with gum rubber which is designed to stick to volleyball courts.
Because of how hard the running shoe outsoles are, they’ll often slip on a volleyball court which is not only dangerous but super annoying to play with!
Volleyball shoes also tend to have slightly better cushioning systems than running shoes.
This is because shock absorption and impact protection from jumping and landing is far more of an issue for jumpers than it is for runners who require less on this front.
If you play volleyball for long enough in running shoes, chances are your joints will start to ache from the constant pounding.
Long term this may lead to a variety of complications including chronic overuse injuries like jumpers knee.
Does It Really Matter That Much?
The way I see it is the dose makes the poison.
If you’re playing volleyball in running shoes only sporadically or for a few weeks as part of gym class, you’ll be totally fine.
But if you’re on a volleyball team and train/play multiple times a week, you’re really going to be disadvantaged unless you have a pair of volleyball shoes.
It’s a completely different story if you’re running in volleyball shoes, but playing volleyball in running shoes is significantly more dangerous and will be more uncomfortable to play in too.
Other Shoes To Avoid Wearing On The Volleyball Court
Most of these are fairly obvious and go without saying, but I’ve seen some crazy kicks on the volleyball court over the years!
- Toe shoes/barefoot shoes – The traction in these will often slip on a hard court and there’s virtually zero cushioning/impact protection.
- Boxing shoes – While you’re going to get plenty of ankle support, boxing shoes lack cushioning and stability for jumping and quick lateral movements. Further, they don’t provide the same traction as a volleyball shoe does.
- Vans – Or any other shoe with a completely flat outsole. The lack of a smooth heel-toe transition causes these shoes to ‘slap’ at the court, which makes them horrible to jump in.
Wear These Shoes Instead
Of all the possible athletic shoes you could wear on a volleyball court, running shoes should be right down the bottom of the list.
You don’t need volleyball shoes to have a much better experience on the volleyball court, but you should definitely avoid those running shoes at all costs!
Generic Court Shoes
Any court shoe will generally do a pretty good job when it comes to volleyball.
This includes shoes designed for handball, badminton, and even tennis.
While none of these shoes tend to have adequate impact protection to cater to a high volume of jumping, they at least have solid traction and responsiveness as well as decent overall lateral support.
Basketball shoes are my favorite shoes to wear for volleyball because they tend to have superior cushioning systems compared to volleyball shoes.
Basketball shoes and volleyball shoes are extremely similar in almost all regards.
However because the basketball shoe market is absolutely massive, it’s usually a lot easier to find something very specific to your needs as a volleyballer.
Be sure to take a look at my article discussing the top basketball shoes for volleyball in 2023!
The volleyball shoe market is not a large one, but there’s some magnificent shoes which are excellently designed for the sport of volleyball.
You’ll notice the design of these shoes are starting to look a lot more like basketball shoes with higher tops and more advanced cushioning.
If you’re due for a new pair, be sure to check out the top ranked volleyball shoes of 2023!