Can You Use Running Shoes for Volleyball? (What To Look For)

One of my favorite recreational sports is volleyball! Getting together with friends at the beach to play sand volleyball is a grand old time, but I’ve never played organized volleyball, so I don’t have the necessary equipment for it. However, I have an excess of running shoes, being a dedicated runner and all. Can you use running shoes for volleyball?

Running shoes should not be used to play volleyball. Volleyball shoes provide traction to keep you from slipping when making the quick movements common in the sport. They also have ankle support and more cushioning than is found in most running shoes. The one thing they have in common with most running shoes is a lightweight construction.

Read on to learn about the key characteristics of volleyball shoes, the key characteristics of running shoes, and the differences between the two.

Is it okay to play volleyball in running shoes?

If you don’t care to shell out money for volleyball shoes, it is alright to just play volleyball in your running shoes instead?

It is not recommended to play volleyball in running shoes. It will negatively affect your performance and greatly increase your risk of injury.

Volleyball requires shoes with good ankle support, intense cushioning, and tread that reduces slip during the game. Running shoes are not an adequate substitute.

Volleyball shoes are nimble yet supportive, allowing for quick, cutting movements while simultaneously protecting the ankles.

Running shoes, on the other hand, are made for going long distances, slowly but surely. They have good traction but are not specifically made for volleyball courts.

Additionally, running shoes provide zero ankle support. Playing volleyball in running shoes is asking for an injury.

I would advise being extremely cautious; a pair of volleyball shoes costs a lot less than a trip to the hospital for an injury!

What are volleyball shoes – key characteristics

Every sport has its respective gear. Baseball players need a glove and a bat, football players need a helmet and pads, and soccer players require cleats and shin guards.

Volleyball is no different! Aside from knee pads, volleyball players need shoes specifically designed for the sport to enhance their performance and protect them from injury.

Volleyball shoes have four key characteristics:

  1. Traction
  2. Cushioning
  3. Ankle support
  4. Lightweight material
Volleyball shoes have multidirectional tread for traction, intense cushioning, ankle support, and are made of a lightweight material.

Let’s look at these in more detail.


Volleyball is a sport with lots of sudden back-and-forth movement. Without a good grip on the court, the risk of injury skyrockets.

Volleyball shoes should have exceptional traction to boost performance and reduce the risk of ankle injuries. Indicators of good traction in volleyball shoes are a rubber outsole with detailed treading.

Depending on the position you play, you may find yourself jumping or cutting back often. Without proper traction, you’re more likely to slip, roll an ankle, or even put your knees in a dangerous position.

To prevent this, search for shoes crafted with a rubber outsole and fancy treading patterns. The treads should vary in direction to provide traction regardless of your movement.


As with any high-intensity sport, cushioning is essential for comfort and performance.

Volleyball shoes should have lots of cushioning to accommodate being on your feet for a long time as well as the frequent jumping required by the sport.

Similar to running shoes, volleyball shoes need lots of cushioning to protect the feet from constant impact and excessive stress.

Volleyball players spend the entire game on their feet, also jumping to spike or block the ball in certain scenarios. This is tough on the feet!

Cushioning in volleyball shoes should keep the wearer’s feet comfortable and absorb the bulk of the shock on impact.

Ankle support

Similar to basketball, sharp cuts back and forth on the court put your ankle at risk for serious injury.

A key characteristic shared by every good volleyball shoe is great ankle support. This is done with strong lacing, velcro, and extra material on the lateral portion of the shoe.

While the avenue through which a volleyball shoe achieves sufficient ankle support comes down to preference, every volleyball shoe must protect the player’s ankles from severe injury.

The options are as follows:

  • Lacing
  • Velcro
  • Lace-up system
  • Extra lateral material

Oftentimes, volleyball shoes with have a combination of two or three of these characteristics for safe measure. Better safe than sorry!

Lightweight material

Volleyball is a game of split-second decisions and quick movement. How can players do that in heavy, clunky shoes?

Volleyball shoes need to be made of lightweight materials for sudden changes in direction.

Much of volleyball is reactionary; players spend most of the game making speedy decisions without much thought. Their shoes should help them in this pursuit, not hold them back.

As with running, heavy shoes only slow down volleyball players. They’re also less comfortable and inefficient in ergonomic terms. Stick to light but sturdy shoes for hitting the court.

What are running shoes – key characteristics

Choosing running shoes is no easy ordeal. Going to your local running store is your best bet, but there are still hundreds of different models to choose from!

Running shoes support your run through treading, cushioning, support, materials, and weight.

Running shoes must support your feet and keep you comfortable on your runs; this is achieved through the following five characteristics:

  1. Treading
  2. Cushioning/fit
  3. Support
  4. Materials
  5. Weight

Let’s take a look at them!


Depending on where you typically run, you should choose shoes with different treading on the outsole.

Running shoes’ treading is intentionally designed to accommodate specific surfaces such as concrete, outdoor trails, or even the track.

Where you run makes a difference in the running shoes you wear. Various surfaces place different demands on your body, and your shoes must fight by your side to overcome these demands.

Track or road running shoes are typically outfitted with smooth grooves that are not set very deep into the outsole; trail runners, on the other hand, have deep lugs that help runners grip the trail and avoid slipping.


As you ramp up the miles, you need a running shoe that fits properly and caters to the needs of your feet.

Running shoes have sufficient cushioning to keep runners comfortable while also preventing the risk of injury.

Your daily trainers for running should leave the slightest amount of room for your foot to swell while running, although it can’t be too loose. Would hate for your shoes to fall off!

Cushioning is essential for runners; without it comes an array of injuries and discomfort.

In the end, cushioning comes down to personal preference. Runners can opt for a barefoot feel (minimalist cushioning), cloud-like cushioning (maximal cushioning), or find themselves anywhere in between.

The two biggest determinants for cushioning are the materials the midsole is crafted with as well as the thickness of the midsole.

Did you know having two or more pairs of running shoes can make them both last longer


Every runner has a different foot and foot strike. Finding a running shoe that matches your anatomy is important to an enjoyable running experience.

Running shoes are crafted for one of the three following foot strikes: under pronation (also called supination), neutral, or pronation.

Depending on how your foot distributes your body weight when running has a substantial effect on the running shoes you buy.

For runners who supinate, they’ll need a shoe to compensate; the same goes for runners who are overpronating.

The best way to determine the best support option is to consult a local running store. Typically, these stores can get you fitted and tested on a treadmill for little to no cost!


Materials are a defining factor in running shoes as they can make or break your running performance and experience.

Another key characteristic of running shoes is the usage of lightweight, breathable materials.

Running shoes are commonly made of some sort of mesh material for breathability. This not only keeps your feet from smelling bad, but it leads to fewer blisters and a lightweight shoe as well.

Some shoes may have other materials like leather or canvas, but they are much less common than mesh. These materials aren’t nearly as breathable, although they are more durable.


The last thing any runner wants is to be weighed down by their sneaker of choice.

The weight of running shoes is important in performance. Most commonly, running shoes are lightweight; however, weight can sometimes be sacrificed for cushioning or better treading in the case of trail shoes.

Lightweight shoes feel effortless to run in. Instead of feeling like you’re drudging through concrete, light shoes help put some spring in your step.

There’s scientific evidence behind this: minimal running shoes lead to improved running economy. Without the extra weight to drag you down, your running form is more ergonomically efficient.

What is the difference between running and volleyball shoes?

While running and volleyball shoes are both designed for athletic activity, they aren’t exactly one and the same.

Each respective shoe has distinguishing factors unique to the sport it is designed for.

Can you use running shoes for volleyball?

Aside from the obvious fact that running shoes are for running and volleyball shoes are for volleyball, here are the defining differences:

  • Traction or treading
  • Ankle support
  • Weight

Let’s compare the two types of shoes based on these criteria.

Traction or treading

Although both shoes are designed with good grip in mind, the tread patterns between running and volleyball shoes are drastically different.

Running shoes are designed for outdoor traction while volleyball shoes are designed for indoor traction with gum rubber soles and intricate treading.

Volleyball shoes have a relatively shallow tread that runs in multiple directions to allow for quick side-to-side movements.

Because the two shoes are designed for different purposes, their treading patterns are vastly different.

Running is a sport with lots of forward movement over a long period of time. Volleyball is very much a stop-and-go sport with lots of cutting.

The treading patterns reflect these differences through harder rubber and deeper treads on volleyball shoes.

Ankle support

Running doesn’t pose a massive threat to the ankles in the way that volleyball does. The shoes reflect this priority.

Volleyball shoes need good ankle support to accommodate fast side-to-side movements, whereas running shoes are more concerned about comfort over a long period of time.

Running shoes are almost always low-top sneakers with lacing, no more, no less. The same cannot be said about volleyball shoes.

Volleyball shoes are often mid or high-top sneakers that have heavy-duty lacing, velcro, or even a self-lacing system on top of extra lateral material for ankle support.

The constant back-and-forth movements of volleyball demand this support; without it, ankle injuries would run rampant.


Both running and volleyball shoes are lightweight, one more so than the other.

Volleyball shoes are even lighter in weight than most running shoes. This is because volleyball players must make quick reactions and movements, whereas running is a slow and steady endeavor.

Running shoes are lightweight for comfort and performance, but the state of your performance doesn’t hinge on a couple of ounces of difference in weight.

Volleyball shoes do. Their lightweight nature is even more important than in running shoes because the ergonomic advantage of light shoes can be the difference between returning the volley or losing the game.

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