Complete Guide: Anatomy of a Volleyball Shoe

We don’t often think too deeply about the anatomy of a volleyball shoe. However, when it comes to playing a sport like volleyball, a little more thought is necessary. Any sport is demanding for your feet and knees, and in volleyball, you place constant pressure on them. Your shoe is your primary defense against this pressure, so you need to know if you have the best type for you. 

Your next question is probably, how do I know that? 

a volleyball shoe

This is where we break the shoe down into the parts that make it up. Shoes are generally seen as one-dimensional structures, but there’s much more to them than that. As with anything else, it’s a molding of multiple pieces, and even those can be broken down into other parts. There is also a handful of volleyball shoe styles. If any of them are ill-fitting or damaged, it will take a toll on the entire shoe, and leave a vulnerable spot for your feet. 

That’s why, today, we’re going to go through every aspect in the anatomy of a volleyball shoe. This way, you’ll know exactly what to look for when choosing your own, so you can protect your feet. 

Major Components In The Anatomy Of A Volleyball Shoe


These are the top parts of the shoe. They might be the most obvious, but there are guaranteed to be benefits you aren’t aware of. As we go through these components, you will find out just how many differences there are between shoes to think about. 

Achilles Notch

You won’t find this in every volleyball shoe. These were designed to meet the need for extra comfort. A shoe with an Achille’s notch will come with a groove along the heel, providing some extra padding. 

As a nod to the ancient Greek myth, this is to protect the heel, a vulnerable but necessary part of the foot and its functionality. Someone who plays volleyball must often place sudden and harsh pressure on their foot. Over time, this can lead to bursitis, a painful condition that can become debilitating. Prevent this by checking for an Achilles’ notch before buying a shoe. If you’ve already developed the condition, this will still assist in treatment. 

Toe Box

As the name suggests, the toe box is the space where your toes rest. Never buy shoes without trying them on first. If this is the right shoe for you, there will be little wiggle room for your toes to move freely. If they cannot move and/or feel squished, this is not the shoe for you. 

Even if you like a pair of shoes, do not get them if they’re uncomfortable when you first try them on. It’s not going to get better- it’s going to get worse. Discomfort or pain isn’t something to put up with. It’s a sign something is wrong. The wrong shoe can cause damage to your feet, which flies in the face of why we wear them in the first place. 

Sock Liner

This is what your foot will actually be standing on. It provides padding, so it will not be harsh against your foot. It also has insulation and venting effects. This ensures that while your foot has protection from the cold, it doesn’t become overheated. 

It also has a moisture-wicking ability. In short, the fabric pulls moisture away from the skin. This is both a cooling method and a sanitation measure. When you sweat, a sock liner will allow it to flow out of the area instead of clamoring to you. 


Although the midsole is not a collection of parts but a part of the shoe on its own, it is a critical factor in the anatomy of a volleyball shoe. It is what gives your feet a cushion from the harsh elements of the ground. It is also where the shock from jumping is absorbed. This way, you can do what you love while still preserving your feet. 

It can be made from many materials, but it’s often plastic or a foam-like substance. The making and strength of the midsole is one of the most important aspects of a shoe. For a volleyball player, more structure and hold is needed, but the compound also must have give. 

We will discuss a few alternative options for the compound if you need softer support. 


A gel midsole is exclusive to the ASICS brand of volleyball shoe. However, not all ASICS shoes use gel midsoles, so if you’re set on it, you need to be sure that’s what you’re buying. 

It’s a unique way of providing cushioning. Unlike other materials, gel is more pliable. This might sound counterproductive, but the advantage is that it will begin to mold to the structure of your feet. No two feet are exactly the same, so this means we have different personal needs when it comes to shoes. Gel can completely accommodate your foot. 


AP+ is a more lightweight substance. It offers durable cushioning and a high level of comfort. Many prefer this sensation to thicker ones, which can be cumbersome with a lot of activity. AP+ lends itself to volleyball because, while it protects the soles, it will also allow you to be quick on your feet. Volleyball is full of fast reactions and traveling long distances in a short amount of time. 

Your shopping will be specific if you want AP+ midsole, as it is exclusive to the Mizuno brand of volleyball shoes.

EVA Foam

This is for those who want maximum support. It is the most common midsole for all volleyball shoes. It’s found everywhere, but if you want a guarantee to find it, turn to Nike. Its support is extremely common yet flexible. It may not be as flashy as some of the others, but you can’t go wrong with tried and true. 


Almost as important as the midsole, the bottom of a volleyball shoe offers protection and grip. Essentially, it serves as your shoe’s skeleton, if you think about how our own holds us together and bears the weight when we exert ourselves physically. 

This piece is going to be dealt the most damage because it is what actually touches the ground. For this reason, you must make sure you are getting durable material. A lesser material is going to cause a quick breakdown. Along with putting you at risk, it will eat away at your money.  There are two main components of a shoe’s bottom, which we will discuss now. 


This is the bottom part inside of a volleyball shoe. It is the space between the outward material and the sockliner. The added layers provide more strength to the shoe and more standing between your feet and the harsh ground. 

These pieces can be sold separately as they can be prescribed by a podiatrist. If you have a family history of more sensitive feet or have had an injury in the past, we highly recommend you look into this feature. 

Gum Rubber Outsole

This is the part of the shoe that actually makes contact with the ground. For a volleyball player, you need to make sure you find material that is high-grip and non-marking. 

Many times in volleyball, you need to move quickly, and you don’t always get to look where your feet are going. Your volleyball shoes need to grip the ground steadily, so you don’t have to worry about falling in the middle of a game. 


With this information in mind, you should now have a better understanding for the anatomy of a volleyball shoe and all of its parts.