Volleyball Shoes vs Running Shoes: 10 Key Differences

If you are an upcoming volleyball player or marathoner, you need to have the right gear. Of all the things you need to play, sports shoes are the most important.

The need for good shoes is clear for most athletes. Still, many upcoming ones cannot tell the differences between volleyball and running shoes. This increases the likelihood of ending up with the wrong shoes. The shoes can be quite uncomfortable and will greatly impact your performance.

In this article, I will take you through the key differences between these shoes. I will also tell you what kinds of shoes work best for both sports. Also, stay tuned to the end as I also answer a few common questions you may have.

Let’s jump straight in!

Are volleyball shoes good for running?

If you are a volleyball player, you may have worn your volleyball shoes a few times when running. Most of us have done it several times. This is probably because the volleyball trainers were what you could easily access. Or simply because they just felt cozy.

That said, volleyball shoes are not good for running. Their design is meant for the high-impact movements that come with playing volleyball. The shoes are also meant for indoor volleyball courts. You can hence easily ruin them if you wear them for your runs.

Volleyball shoes will also affect your performance when running. Typical volleyball shoes are clunkier than running shoes. Their design makes them uncomfortable when running. They will also not provide the grip you want when running.

Another disadvantage of wearing volleyball shoes for runs is you will wreck them. Remember, these shoes are meant for indoor use. Everything from their soles to the uppers starts fraying when you use them outdoors. You can hence easily ruin your expensive volleyball shoes.

Are running shoes good for volleyball?

It is not unusual to see people wearing their running shoes at the gym. Many also wear them when playing indoor court games like volleyball. Technically there is nothing wrong with this, provided the shoes feel comfortable enough.

Still, wearing running shoes when playing volleyball is not a good idea. The two shoe types have distinct features to support their primary purpose. Your running shoes may not work well for playing volleyball.

For starters, running shoes do not have lateral support, which is vital for volleyball. There will be a lot of movements when playing volleyball. And you often have to change directions fast. Your shoes need to provide adequate lateral support when making these movements.

The outsoles on running shoes also do not provide adequate traction. These shoes will not stick well to the volleyball court. This makes it hard and uncomfortable to play the sport. Plus, running shoes do not provide adequate cushioning. They cannot absorb the shock from the volleyball jumps.

What do volleyball shoes look like?

The overall appearance of volleyball shoes will largely vary from one brand to the other. Still, there are a few key features that set them apart from many other shoe types:

  • Low-cut design – The design is meant to make them more flexible. It also ensures the shoes support a wide range of motions.
  • Gum rubber sole – The rubber sole provides excellent traction on the indoor courts.
  • Reinforced toe cap – This feature protects your toes from injuries. It shields them from the impact of constant jumping and landing when playing.
  • Shock-absorbing midsole – The midsole has extra cushioning to absorb shock. The cushioning also provides extra comfort.

Volleyball vs Running Shoes: 10 Key Differences

Volleyball Shoes vs Running Shoes

Many non-athletes can hardly distinguish between volleyball and other sports shoes. Most cannot tell any obvious difference between these shoes just by looking at them. 

Here are some key differences between volleyball and running shoes:

1. Purpose of the Shoes

Their purpose is the first and most obvious difference between these shoe types. As their name suggests, one is for playing volleyball, and the other is for running.

Volleyball shoes are designed for use in indoor courts. Besides volleyball, they are also suitable for other indoor court games. Yu can use them for badminton and table tennis. It is still, however, a better idea to buy shoes specifically meant for these other sports.

Typical volleyball shoes will provide support and the perfect grip for indoor courts. The design also supports lateral movements and constant jumping and landing.

Running shoes are meant for running on outdoor surfaces. They are hence ideal for your morning jogs or running marathons. These shoes are designed to be more flexible and breathable. They will keep your feet dry and comfortable when running.

Many people will also use running shoes for other sports. I always wear my Nike running shoes to the gym and evening walks. I have also worn them for several hiking trips. They are super comfortable and lightweight. You can wear good running shoes for hours and never worry about tired legs.

Each shoe type is meant for a specific purpose. Still, running shoes are the more versatile of the two types.

2. Overall Design and Construction

The overall design and construction of volleyball and running shoes differ significantly.  The upper section, midsole, and sole design are quite different.

  • Upper section – The upper section of volleyball shoes focuses on providing flexibility. This ensures the shoe can support a player’s movement. It will also be highly breathable and supportive. Most manufacturers include a heavily padded collar mesh material on their volleyball shoes. Running shoes have a similar upper section. But they will also include materials that provide a snug shoe fit.
  • Midsole – The midsole on a volleyball shoe is mostly designed for shock absorption. It often features extra cushioning and either a foam or gel insert. The midsole on a running shoe is thicker and often has air pockets.
  • Sole – Both shoes use rubber soles. The sole on volleyball shoes is gum rubber. It is meant to provide maximum traction on indoor courts. Running shoes have regular rubber or synthetic sole. These soles are designed to provide traction on hard surfaces like concrete.

3. Materials

You might not pay much attention to the shoe material, but it is still important. The materials greatly impact everything from the shoe’s breathability to its durability. Luckily you will have plenty of materials to choose from.

Both volleyball and running shoes are mostly made from synthetic textiles. Many manufacturers prefer these materials as they are cheaper and easy to produce. Synthetic textiles are also lightweight, which is vital for any athletic shoes.

Still, the shoes serve different purposes, meaning the materials can differ significantly. For instance, most running shoes focus more on comfort and breathability. The shoes will have looser knits for maximum airflow and use thinner textiles.

Volleyball shoes will focus more on giving your feet maximum support and cushioning. They often use materials like leather and plastics to achieve this. The shoes also have tighter knits to maximize support.

4. Breathability

Both volleyball and running shoes are designed to be highly breathable. Like all other sports shoes, they must keep the player’s feet cool and dry. Sweaty feet will not only be uncomfortable but can also hinder your performance.

The actual level of breathability largely depends on the design and brand of both shoe types. Still, running shoes offer more breathability compared to most volleyball shoes.

Running shoes have mesh on the upper section or synthetic fabric to maximize airflow. Many brands also include airflow channels in the midsole for even more breathability. All this ensures your feet remain cool and dry when running long distances.

Volleyball shoes also have mesh or synthetic uppers. They, however, prioritize other things like support and traction. They will hence not offer the same level of breathability as running shoes.

5. Toe Protection

Volleyball has a relatively higher injury rate compared to other sports. Some studies put the injury rate at 3.6 per 1,000 athlete exposures. Almost 40% of the injuries are sprains. Most volleyball shoe manufacturers try to cut the risk of injury. One of the best ways to do this is by providing toe protection.

A typical volleyball shoe will have reinforced toe caps. The reinforcement protects the toes when jumping and diving during a game. It also protects the toes from being stepped on accidentally by teammates.

You do not need a lot of toe protection when running. The risk of injury is relatively lower. Most running shoes will not have any toe caps. Toe protection would only add extra weight to the shoe. This will not be ideal for running shoes. Most runners prefer their running shoes to be as lightweight as possible.

6. Shoe Weight and Flexibility

The weight of modern sports shoes has decreased greatly over the years. Synthetic and mesh materials now allow manufacturers to make their shoes super lightweight.

The actual weight of both volleyball and running shoes varies greatly. It often depends on factors like design and materials.

The average weight for both shoe types is between 8 and 15 ounces. Still, you can get some super lightweight running shoes weighing just 5 ounces. Getting such a light volleyball shoe is hard. Volleyball shoes need extra padding and cushioning, which adds a lot of weight.

Volleyball shoes are more flexible. The flexibility allows for quick movement and a wide range of motions. Running shoes are less flexible. They focus more on giving runners natural foot movement when running.

7. Sole Traction

It is common to see chunks of shoe sole rubber left on the volleyball court. I once even saw a friend lose almost an entire sole when playing. The reason for this is using running shoes on indoor volleyball courts. The traction is not right for the court, as that is not the shoe’s purpose.

Running shoes still provide excellent traction but not for indoor courts. The treads on running shoes support the straight-line motion you make when running. They also provide traction on various outdoor surfaces. They can handle everything from concrete and asphalt and dirt.

Volleyball shoes have tread patterns that support movement in all directions. Volleyball players have to jump and land and change directions super fast. The shoe treading and grooves will be designed to allow for this.

Most volleyball shoes will also have herringbone sole tread patterns. These patterns are meant to make lateral movements smooth.

8. Arch Support

Volleyball and running are both high-impact sports. Your shoes should hence provide arch support to keep the foot comfortable. Arch support also helps prevent long-term injuries. Many athletes develop foot problems after years of playing. This is often because of inadequate arch support.

Some volleyball shoes will often have relatively lower arch support than running shoes. They instead focus on providing stability and adequate support for lateral movements.

With running shoes, arch support is essential to ensure proper foot alignment. The arch support ensures minimal stress on the feet when running for long distances.

The arch support you need will largely depend on you as a player. For instance, your foot shape and gait determine your required arch support. 

Players with foot problems like plantar fascitis also need extra foot support. Adequate arch support will be vital for such players. And this is regardless of whether running or playing volleyball.

9. Heel-to-Toe Drop

Heel-to-toe drop is the difference between the thickness around the heels and the toes. It is an important factor to consider when buying sports shoes. The drop affects how the feet hit the ground. The heel-to-toe drop also affects the pressure distribution on the foot when landing. It can help minimize the risk of foot injury or long-term issues.

The heel-to-toe drop for most shoes ranges between 0 and 14mm. The drop tends to be higher for running shoes compared to volleyball shoes. Most runners prefer a high drop. It promotes forward motion, which can help improve their performance. The standard drop for running shoes is 10mm.

Volleyball shoes have a lower drop to support lateral movements. A lower drop also allows for a quick transition as the foot moves more naturally. The average drop for volleyball shoes will be around 6 to 8mm.

Note: Different volleyball players have different kinds of feet and movements. Their foot mechanics also differ. All this means no one drop number can work for all volleyball players. 

10. Price

Price largely depends on the shoe brand and other factors like the material. Generally, volleyball shoes are more expensive than running shoes.

There is, however, quite a large price range for both volleyball and running shoes. For instance, you can get a decent pair of volleyball shoes for $50 to $80. There are also high-end models from top brands that retail for hundreds of dollars. 

Some running shoes will retail for upwards of $250, but there are still many cheap options. You can buy running shoes for as little as $20. Getting a decent volleyball shoe at that price point will be hard.

Consider how serious you are with the sport before splashing cash on an expensive shoe. If you are a casual player playing volleyball a few times a month, you do not need pricey shoes.

What kind of shoes are good for running?

There are several types of running shoes. Most of these shoes are designed for runners with specific foot types and running styles. Here is a quick overview of the most common ones:

1. Racing flats – These are also what many runners know as lightweight trainers. Racing flats will have less foam and cushioning to keep their weight low. They are lighter than average running shoes. The lightweight design makes them perfect for sprinting and speed workouts.

2. Trail shoes –  If you run trails a lot, you already know you must find your way around obstacles when going off-road. Trail shoes are designed to make things easier for you. They have extra protection around the ankle and tongue and are also more stable. The shoes protect your feet from dirt, mud, and rocks when trail running.

3. Stability shoes – Stability running shoes are designed for runners with overpronation issues. The shoes have a special midsole and extra foot support to correct overpronation. They will make running more comfortable by providing adequate arch and ankle support.

4. Motion control shoes – Stability shoes will not be enough for severe overpronation. You need motion-control shoes as they offer maximum support. They also have a wider sole and tend to be stiffer. This design prevents excess foot motion when running.

Best running shoe brands

The shoe brand is one of the most important factors when choosing running shoes. It will affect everything from the shoe design to the quality. Here are a few brands that make the best running shoes.

1. Nike: Nike is one of the world’s oldest and most popular running shoe brands. Many runners love their advanced shoe designs. They also have innovative air cushioning features.

2. Asics: If you want excellent cushioning, Asics is always your best brand. Their gel cushioning ensures runners get the best support and maximum shock absorption.

3. New Balance: With New Balance running shoes, you always get soft cushioning. Their shoes also have the most accommodating fit. New Balance prioritizes heel, forefoot, and arch support with their running shoes.

4. Saucony: The stability and durability of Saucony running shoes is hard to beat. The company has been around for over a century. They have mastered the art of making proper running shoes.

What shoes are good for volleyball?

Any volleyball shoes that provide adequate cushioning and support should be good enough. Volleyball shoes should have adequate traction for indoor courts. Other things like breathability and a lightweight design are also casual.

You will not find volleyball shoes listed in different types in the market. It is hence up to you to know what works for you. In most cases, this depends on your playing level and position.

For instance, hitters must jump and land often, requiring shoes with extra cushioning. The extra cushioning will absorb the shock that comes with these movements. Setters require shoes with enough support. Their shoes must also be more stable. Something with a wide sole is ideal. 

There are also all-round volleyball shoes that can work for any player. These shoes will typically have good traction and excellent cushioning. Players can use them in any position as they absorb shock well and offer good support.

Best volleyball shoes brand

Almost all the notable shoe brands make volleyball shoes. Still, some brands are more popular with both casual and pro players. These brands are known for making high-quality shoes. Here is an overview of some of them:

1. Adidas: Adidas makes some of the most stylish volleyball shoes. They are among the few brands making shoes for specific volleyball positions. For instance, they have shoes for both hitters and setters.

2. Nike: Nike uses some of the most advanced shoe technologies. Most of their volleyball shoes use innovative technologies like Flywire lacing. They also have Zoom midsoles.

3. Mizuno: The stability of Mizuno volleyball shoes is hard to beat. It is often a result of their Wave Plate and other innovative technologies.

4. Asics: With Asics, you get volleyball shoes with excellent support. They also have some of the best cushioning. Their shoes also have some lovely finishes and color choices.

Can I wear sneakers for volleyball?

You can wear sneakers when playing volleyball, but it is not recommended. Like running shoes, sneakers will not provide the support and cushioning you need. Sneakers are also not made with the right or even adequate traction for indoor courts.

Remember that playing volleyball will put a lot of stress on your ankles and feet. Most sneakers will not have the right design or enough cushioning to handle this stress.

Wearing sneakers when playing volleyball may hinder your performance and affect your movement. Plus, there will be a greater risk of injury. You are also more likely to wreck your sneakers as they cannot handle all that stress.

Wrap Up

It is hard to overemphasize the need to wear proper shoes when playing any sport. Wearing the right shoes ensures optimal performance and minimizes the risk of injury.

It should be clear now if you did not know the difference between volleyball and running shoes apart. Your ultimate goal is now to find the most comfortable and supportive pair of shoes.

I would also love your thoughts on these two common shoe types. Please feel free to drop me a comment. And remember to share this article to help other athletes find their perfect shoes.

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