Having played volleyball for 15 years and represented my country in international tournaments around the world, I know exactly what makes a solid volleyball shoe.
I’m also a hitter, having started out as a middle blocker, moved to opposite, and finally transitioned into an outside hitter – so I know exactly what’s required from each of these positions.
I’ve just spent the last couple days doing nothing but researching volleyball shoes in order to put this review together…
I probably went through 20-30 of the latest kicks on the market to see which would meet my grading standards for volleyball hitters.
I’ve also had first hand experience with many of the shoes I’ll be reviewing today so I can tell you with great detail why they’ve made my list.
Note that the shoe requirements for different volleyball positions varies massively.
A middle blocker should wear a very different shoe to a libero.
For that reason, I’ve included a number of basketball shoes in this list, as they often have superior shock absorption and ankle support for play around the net.
To see how the shoe requirements of each position differs, and exactly how I chose the shoes on this list, I’ve included a short guide at the end of this article.
Let’s dive right in!
Best Overall Shoe
Asics Sky Elite FF Volleyball Shoes
This is quite simply the best volleyball shoe, period. It’s appropriate for all positions, but is particularly good for players in the front row doing a lot of jumping!
Best Volleyball Shoe For Hitters -Overall
I own this shoe and it’s really incredible, virtually flawless.
Not only is this my highest rated volleyball shoe for hitters, but it won my best overall shoe for 2022.
If you want the full run down of this shoe, click on the above link where I explain more about why it’s so excellent.
As for hitters, this shoe shines bright for so many reasons…
It has excellent ankle support with a snug, locked down feel inside.
Asics really nailed the lateral support and containment, which makes it perfect for anyone doing a lot of jumping around the net.
It has some of the best shock absorption/impact protection I’ve ever felt, meaning it’ll save your joints which is extremely important if you’re playing a lot.
They’ve got a nice bit of bounce as well as incredible traction on even slightly dusty courts!
- All volleyball hitters. The only players who may not love this shoe are liberos as they’ve got quite a thick sole meaning they stand quite high off the ground.
Not Ideal For
- Anyone balling on a budget. These shoes are definitely on the more expensive side.
Mizuno Wave Momentum Volleyball Shoes
This shoe is ideal for any hitter who prefers a really lightweight shoe. The Wave Momentum is easily the lightest shoe on this list so if you’re trying to maximize your vertical jump, look no further!
Best Volleyball Shoe For Hitters – Runner Up
I should mention that the Mizuno Wave Momentum 2s are out and they’re also a great volleyball shoe which I recommend.
The Momentum 2s will have a lot more bounce, but the shock absorption is a lot worse.
I prefer the original Wave Momentums because they have superior impact protection. The Momentum 2s can definitely be tough on your joints!
So far as hitters are concerned, the best thing about these shoes is how incredibly lightweight and responsive they are.
They weight in at around 11oz which is significantly lighter than most of the shoes on my list today!
These mid tops have excellent ankle support, great traction, and are super responsive.
They come in both men’s and women’s and are excellent for wide feet.
- Hitters who prefer impact protection over bounce. – I like jumping high as much as the next guy, but protecting your joints is by far more important. Opt for the Momentum 2s if you really want that extra pop!
Not Ideal For
- Hitters who want to feel insanely springy. These shoes feel great to jump in, but don’t have much of an extra bounce to them.
Best For Outsides
Li-Ning All City WOW
Despite being a basketball shoe, this shoe checks all the boxes for outside hitters. It’s bouncy, super responsive, low to the ground, and has excellent stability.
Best Volleyball Shoe For Outside Hitters
I like to think of the outside hitter position as somewhere between libero and opposite. The outside hitter is, by definition, a passer hitter.
As such, an outside hitter’s shoe needs to have a relatively thin sole to promote agility and responsiveness when passing and defending, but also bouncy enough to jump well.
The Li-Ning All City 9s and 10s are both excellent shoes designed, completely unintentionally, specifically for outside hitters!
They’re feel fairly low to the ground and highly responsive, meaning they’re great for quick, micro adjustments when passing.
Traction is incredible.
They’re on the heavier side but still feel extremely lightweight and very minimalist on the foot.
And they also have solid lateral support and stability, which makes this shoe safe for jumping and landing around the net.
This is technically a men’s shoe, but there’s a number of more feminine colorways which look great for women as well. If you have wide feet, consider going up half a size.
- A variety of positions… These shoes are actually great for both outsides and setters and would be fine for opposite hitters as well!
Not Ideal For
- Athletes with wide feet. If you can get them in a 1/2 size larger, they should fit fine.
Also Great For Outsides
Great Volleyball Shoe For Outside Hitters
You’ll often see this shoe being worn by professional outside hitters all over the world.
Liberos also love them because they’re quite low to the ground and highly responsive.
They’re known for having arguably the best traction of all volleyball shoes (perhaps on par with the Asics Sky Elites).
While these shoes won’t offer a ton of extra bounce so far as spiking goes, they still feel excellent to jump in.
Impact protection is also solid, but not the best on this list – which actually makes them perfect for outside hitters who spend time doing other tasks like passing the ball.
Currently, these only come in women’s as the men’s shoe is virtually impossible to get ahold of. This shoe is on the narrow side so those with wide feet should go up half a size.
- All women’s volleyball players. Sorry fellas, unless you can find a women’s size that fits, you’re hard out of luck at the moment!
- Outsides, setters, liberos, opposites. For reasons discussed, this is a perfect shoe for virtually any player. Middles can wear them too, but I think there’s better options.
Not Ideal For
- Those not wanting to spend a ton of money. This is an expensive shoe.
- Anyone wanting extra pop/bounce/spring from their shoe. The Hypersets don’t have much extra when it comes to bounciness, unfortunately.
Best For Middles
Adidas Dame 7s
If I had to use 3 words to describe these shoes, I’d go with bounce and impact protection.
This shoe also has decent ankle support making this the ultimate shoe for middle blockers.
Best Volleyball Shoe For Middle Blockers
The holy trinity when it comes to the middle blocker position: impact protection, ankle support, and bounce.
These are the three things I absolutely must have in my volleyball shoe when playing in the middle of the court.
More on exactly why this is at the end of the article.
The Adidas Dame 7s are widely regarded as having some of the best cushioning of any shoe on the market: simply unparalleled when it comes to shock absorption.
No one makes shoes with incredible ankle support these days, but the Dame 7s do a better job in this area than virtually all volleyball shoes.
They’re also incredible to jump in and are excellent for playing in on outdoor courts.
Every step you take feels like you’re bouncing off a miniature trampoline, making these great for all the quick toe jumps middles have to do when blocking.
The Dame 7s are available in unisex and men’s sizes, a wide variety of colorways, and are absolutely perfect if you’re like me with really wide feet.
- Middle blockers and opposite hitters. These two positions are quite similar, so they work great for both of the tallest positions on court.
- Anyone on a budget – These cost less than $100 so they’re a lot more affordable than each of the previous shoes on this list.
Not Ideal For
- Outside hitters. The Dame 7s are probably slightly too high off the ground to be perfect for outside hitters, but I’ve worn them playing this position and had no issues defensively.
Also Great For Middles
Nike Air Zoom G.T. Jumps
This is another shoe which will really protect your ankles from awkward landings when blocking around the net. The cushioning setup will also save your joints from long term damage.
Great Volleyball Shoe For Middle Blockers
Like the Dame 7, this shoe was selected for its bounciness, ankle support, impact protection, and lateral containment.
By lateral containment I just mean it’s very difficult to roll your ankle sideways in this shoe.
Multiple times earlier in my career, I’ve landed from a spike or block on someone else’s foot and rolled my ankle.
Ever since I started wearing shoes like these, that prioritize lateral support, I’ve not once rolled or sprained my ankle.
If you’re wearing a shoe like this and land awkwardly, instead of rolling your ankle, what will often happen is your knee will buckle and you’ll simply fall on your ass, completely unscathed.
Just like the Dame 7s, these shoes have major bounce and are a dream to jump in. The Sole Brothers rated them as one of the most comfortable shoe of 2022!
The Air Zoom G.T. Jumps are a unisex shoe that fits on the smaller side, so consider going up half a size or possibly a full size if you’ve got wide feet.
- All middle blockers and opposite hitters. Great, neutral colorways for both men and women.
Not Ideal For
- Outside hitters. These will probably be a little too high off the ground and there are more responsive options for passing.
- Anyone on a budget. These things ain’t cheap!
Best For Opposites
Nike Lebron 18s
The Lebron 18s are a premium shoe with a perfect mix of support and bounce, making these ideal for opposite hitters as well as middle blockers.
Best Volleyball Shoe For Opposite Hitters
When it comes to opposite hitters, they require very similar shoes to a middle blocker.
As they do slightly less blocking, they can settle for slightly less ankle/lateral support in exchange for a slightly better jumping experience.
But by all means, any of the shoes I’ve selected for middles or opposites can be used interchangeably for both positions.
The Lebron 18s are known for their incredible cushioning system, making this one of the best shoes for players doing a high volume of jumping.
They have a super smooth heel-toe transition and feel ridiculously springy.
The heel is locked down nice and tight and lateral containment is also solid.
One thing to be aware of is the Air Max unit in the heel, which compresses quickly when landing. This could cause a roll if you’ve landed awkwardly on someone’s foot.
This is technically a men’s shoe, however there’s plenty of great colorways which the ladies would love.
They fit slightly narrow so definitely go up 1/2 a size if you’ve got wide feet.
- Both middle blockers and opposites. Anyone valuing support and impact protection but still wanting some springiness should consider this shoe.
Not Ideal For
- Outsides. For the same reasons, it’s a little high off the ground and is more of a pure hitter/blocker’s shoe.
- Those on a budget. These are definitely not cheap.
Also Great For Opposites
Another super combination of shock absorption and bounce. The KD14 regularly features in basketball shoe roundups and has a reputation for being one of the best shoes ever created!
Great Volleyball Shoe For Opposite Hitters
The KD14 is another really excellent option for any of the opposites and middles out there.
It’s got one of the most unique and best performing cushioning setups making it absurdly comfortable, bouncy, and great on your joints.
These also feel extremely responsive and have better traction than the other big man shoes, making them a feasible option for outside hitters as well.
One slightly annoying thing about them is the strap which makes lacing up difficult as the strap constantly gets in the way. The laces may eventually fray from sticking to the velcro as well.
Aside from that one minor thing, this shoe is one of my favorite options for front court players.
These come in both men’s and women’s sizes and colorways.
- Opposites, middles, and passer hitters. Basically anyone playing in the front row will love the KD14s!
If you play a specific position, I think you can dial in your shoe selection a little more so that you get something that caters to your specific needs as a hitter.
For men playing in the outside hitter position, take a chance on something different with the Li-Ning All City – either 9s or 10s are excellent.
You will not be disappointed!
For the ladies in this role, you’ve got the Nike React Hypersets that’ll always be a great option.
What Should Each Different Position Look For In A Volleyball Shoe?
There are three different positions which specialize in hitting in volleyball and each of them is quite different, meaning their shoes should be slightly different as well.
The outside, even though they hit more balls than the other positions, are a only a part time hitter.
They also spend a lot of their time in the back court focusing on passing – something that opposites and middles don’t have to think about.
For this reason, outsides need a shoe that is a hybrid between something a libero would wear, and something an opposite would wear.
It needs to be fairly low to the ground, which will help with serve-reception.
For the same reason, it should also be highly responsive, meaning quick and precise foot adjustments can be made.
This also requires excellent traction.
At the same time, any hitter needs a shoe that has decent shock absorption to protect their joints from high impact movements like jumping and landing.
Feel free to read the above reviews to see exactly why those shoes best fulfill the needs of an outside hitter.
Middle blocker is the position I played when representing my country playing volleyball overseas.
It’s a unique position which requires no passing, minimal digging, and significantly more blocking than any other position.
I determined the best shoes for middle blockers would have excellent lateral containment and support around the ankle.
The primary function of a middle blocker’s shoe should be to prevent ankle sprains in the common event of landing on someone else’s foot when blocking.
This happens all the time and so we need a shoe that will prevent rolling.
As middle blockers we also do plenty of jumping which is very tough on the joints, so shock absorption/impact protection is extremely high on my list of priorities.
These shoes should also have a good amount of bounce in them which will allow us to get into the air more efficiently when blocking and spiking.
Alternatively, they can select from any of the shoes I’ve recommended for opposite hitters.
In terms of what our feet do, the difference between middle blockers and opposite hitters is fairly minimal.
Opposites do plenty of jumping and a bit of blocking. They don’t do much in the way of passing.
Because they’re blocking significantly less than the middle, they can get away with shoes that focus slightly less on lateral ankle support, but should still be quite bouncy.
What’s With All The Basketball Shoes?
Over the years, volleyball shoes have slowly started looking more and more like basketball shoes.
The Nike Hypersets are the current most popular volleyball shoe and they’re almost identical to the Nike Hyperdunks.
Low tops are quickly becoming mid tops and basketball shoes are eating the volleyball shoe market alive!
But there’s good reason for that.
The basketball shoe market is literally millions of times larger than the volleyball shoe market.
Each basketball shoe is extremely nuanced and has its own characteristics and a personality that separates it from the pack.
For this reason, it’s easier to find basketball shoes that fulfill the needs of different specialist positions on the volleyball court.
Aside from the two volleyball shoes I mentioned, there simply aren’t many shoes that cater to the needs of volleyball hitters as well as basketball shoes do.