The role of setter is widely regarded as the toughest position in volleyball to play…
Don’t make it any harder on yourself by having the wrong shoes.
But what exactly does a setter need from their shoe?
It’s a tricky one because setters perform a wide variety of actions including blocking, spiking occasionally (especially if you’re a lefty), as well as chasing down balls.
My Top Picks:
Setters should look for a shoe with excellent traction and responsiveness that’s relatively low to the ground. They also need something with decent lateral support and a reasonable amount of impact protection.
I’ve gone through a number of the current top volleyball shoes and hand picked the ones which best fulfill the needs of a setter.
For more information on how I chose this list, I’ve included a detailed explanation at the end of the article.
Let’s dive straight in!
Asics Sky Elite FF
The Sky Elites are such a brilliantly designed volleyball shoe that they’re perfect for virtually every position on court. They have a great blend of responsiveness, cushioning, and support making them perfect for setters.
Best Overall Volleyball Shoe For Setters
This shoe simply excels in all areas.
There’s a reason it’s ranked my top volleyball shoe of 2023 and that’s because it’s virtually flawless.
Traction is on point: this shoe sports a super sticky grip which is great for setters as they’re often making quick changes of direction.
These shoes have phenomenal cushioning and shock absorption which makes them great for any setter who often plays in the front court or does more jumping than most.
For the same reason, it’s also perfect if you play multiple positions and find yourself playing as a hitter on certain teams.
The Asics Sky Elite FFs come in both men’s and women’s sizes as well as a number of colorways and are excellent for wide feet.
Quite simply the best option for setters of all kinds. I’d suggest opting for the mid tops especially for front court setters who require a little more ankle support.
One of the most advanced cushioning setups of any volleyball shoe midsole ever!
Top tier traction. Super responsive, great for quick changes of directions (common when setting).
Fantastic ankle support especially in the mid top design, which is important for jump setting in the front row.
One of the more expensive options.
Best Budget Shoe
The Giannis Immortality is an extremely lightweight shoe that is super responsive and great for setters who play mostly in the back court who don’t need quite as much in the way of impact protection.
Best Budget Volleyball Shoe For Setters
This shoe can best be described as really really light.
It’s one of the lightest basketball shoes ever made and this makes it great for setters seeking something super quick and responsive.
Basketball shoes can sometimes get a bad rep for being boot-like and clunky, but the GI is lighter on foot than most volleyball shoes even.
The Immortality has pretty average cushioning so not much in the way of shock absorption.
But if you’re a setter, you’ll probably be okay with this especially if you usually play back row only.
These kicks usually go for $60-80 so they’re an excellent budget option.
The Immortalities are one of the best options for setters who prefer an ultra lightweight and super responsive shoe.
Super minimal and lightweight feel.
Doubles as a fantastic shoe for liberos and back court specialists.
Cushioning isn’t the best, which means they’re not ideal for jumping in.
Note: These shoes retail primarily via Amazon, as they’re no longer selling through the official Nike USA website. You should be able to find other local retailers near you with a simple Google search.
UA Curry Flow 10
The second of 3 basketball shoes on this list, the Curry 10s are a lightweight, ultra responsive shoe with exceptional lateral support, making this perfect for any setter.
Best Volleyball Shoe For Setters – Runner Up
Let’s start with the ankle support in this shoe…
Excellent lateral stability and containment, as well as ankle lockdown (i.e. no heel slippage) make this shoe one of the safest options for setters.
The traction is possibly too good.
No seriously, these things are like glue on the floor which can actually sometimes cause the outsole to ‘catch’ on the ground and trip you.
In my opinion, this is an excellent problem to have, but something to be aware of!
Great forefoot flexibility as well as responsiveness make these perfect for a position requiring high amounts of agility like setter.
They feel quite low to the ground which is great for most setters as well as liberos.
They’re on the narrower side but have a fairly wide base, so should be fine for wide feet – but it’s probably worth going up half a size anyway if that’s you.
They’re a unisex shoe so great for all setters!
Another fantastic overall option for setters who want extremely good traction and ankle support.
God tier traction, responsiveness, lockdown, and support.
Slightly better cushioning setup compared to the Immortalities, so they’ll do a little better for jump setting.
Definitely on the more expensive side.
Note: These shoes currently only retail via the UA website as they’re still super new. I wasn’t able to find any other trusted retailers at this time.
Li-Ning All City 9/10
This is one of the most brilliantly designed shoes of recent times… Excellent traction with a lightweight, responsive, and low to the ground feel make this one of the best options for setters who want slightly more impact protection.
Best Basketball Shoe Setters
I usually recommend this shoe for outside hitters as it’s a brilliant middle ground shoe between defensive and offensive minded volleyball.
It’s lightweight and low to the ground with extremely good traction, making it perfect for quick lateral movements.
But the cushioning system is also extremely advanced which helps with protecting your joints from a large volume of jumping.
These shoes also give a little extra bounce when jumping which makes them ideal for any setter spending a good amount of time in the front court.
Either the All City 9s and 10s are great choices and are very similar.
The All-City 9 or 10s are a great option for front row setters or setters who double as right side hitters, as they have fantastic cushioning and shock absorption.
One of the best shoes on this list as far as cushioning goes – excellent for setters doing plenty of jumping.
Low to the ground feel makes these super responsive and excellent for lateral movements.
Definitely on the more expensive side.
Note: Li-Ning’s official store is on Amazon, however you can find other retailers with a simple Google search. Stock and colorways may be extremely limited outside of the Amazon store.
Nike Air Zoom Hyperattack
The Hyperattack is one of the most responsive and supportive volleyball shoes with top tier lateral stability, making this shoe one of the safest options for setters playing in and around the net.
Also Great Volleyball Shoe For Setters
With the amount of sprinting and change of direction setters do, along with plenty of blocking, it’s one of the more dangerous positions in terms of the potential for injuries.
I like to think of this shoe as one of the safest designs available for setters, along with the Curry 10s.
It has a large amount of padding around the ankle as well as a very thick upper which gives this shoe a very locked down feel.
Ankle and arch support are probably the best on this list.
The traction and responsiveness are its next best traits.
The cushioning is fairly basic but this is not going to be a problem for setters who quite simply need it a lot less than attackers.
The only issue is these shoes are extremely difficult to get ahold of!
They don’t retail via the Nike website or Amazon, so you have to do a bit of digging to find a pair – this makes them really expensive…
The Hyperattacks are some of the best options for ankle support and lateral stability.
Fantastic support and lateral containment, definitely one of the safest shoes for setters.
Ridiculously expensive since they’re extremely difficult to get ahold of anymore!
Cushioning could be improved somewhat.
This is such a difficult one for me to decide.
Usually I’d be able to pick my favorites pretty easily but this is a really incredible list of shoes, all of which are brilliant for setters!
Since I have pretty dodgy ankles and a history of sprains, I’d probably opt for Asics Sky Elite FFs which will offer the best support for someone like me.
The Hyperattacks are simply too expensive for my liking.
If I didn’t want to spend so much money, I’d have no option but to go for the Giannis Immortality.
I might also give the Li-Ning All City 9 or 10s a go since I do a fair bit of hitting and I would probably buy the Curry 10s purely because they are a really beautiful, amazingly crafted shoe!
When all of the options are so awesome, it’s fine sometimes to just pick the one you think looks the coolest!
What Should Setters Look For In A Volleyball Shoe?
When we’re talking about shoes for hitters, it’s fairly simple. Shock absorption is king.
If we’re talking about shoes for liberos: responsiveness, a thin sole, and excellent traction are imperative.
But setters require a unique blend of each of these.
Exactly what you’ll need depends a bit on what sort of setter you are.
Do you tend to play both front court and back court?
Are you a really tall lefty who is smacking balls on the second contact and dumping like there’s no tomorrow?
If so, you’re probably also doing a ton of blocking, which means jumping.
Jumping around the net means you’ll need more in the way of impact protection as well as lateral support (to avoid nasty ankle rolls when landing on other players’ feet).
If you’re primarily setting from the back court, you don’t need as much lateral support or cushioning and can trade that off for a lighter weight shoe which is more responsive.
In any case, the difference is fairly minimal and the most important thing is that you find a shoe that feels comfortable, supportive, and is within your budget.