What Type of Athletic Shoe is Best for Volleyball?

Are you new to volleyball and looking for the best shoes to elevate your game? You’ll eventually shop for volleyball shoes, which are designed by big brands to increase agility, traction, and sudden speed on the court.

However, you may be wondering if you can wear other shoes to play this game. Why wear volleyball shoes when you could wear a pair of basketball shoes you already own? Should you wear volleyball shoes at all? 

In this article, we’ll go through several different types of indoor sports and fitness shoes and discuss whether or not each kind is acceptable for playing volleyball. We’ll also tackle a few questions about the best footwear to play volleyball in, as well as whether buying volleyball shoes is worth the investment.

Do You Need Volleyball Shoes to Play Volleyball?

The startup costs involved in taking up a new sport can be a bit of a headache, as well as a source of stress. As you’re thinking about this month’s clothing budget and the limited space in your closet, you may find yourself wondering: are volleyball shoes worth buying?

If you are playing volleyball regularly, purchasing footwear designed with the specific impact of playing volleyball in mind is highly recommended. This will help decrease the chances of injury to high-risk joints such as the knees and ankles, and it will also prevent the development of painful shin splints from long-term play. 

Having the right footwear will also improve your game, freeing up your lateral movement and giving you the poise and confidence to really leap for the ball. Here’s how:

  • Increased Grip. Since indoor courts can be slippery, particularly later on in the game when sweat has dripped all over the floor, volleyball shoes are designed with excellent grip on the soles.
  • Protective Cushion. They also have protective cushioning in key areas, including the front of the shoe, to guard your feet when you land from a high jump.
  • Lateral Stability. The third major feature of volleyball shoes is a design geared toward lateral stability, so you can execute the sudden changes of direction vital to the game without losing your balance.

There are even special volleyball shoes designed for either defensive or attack positions. Defensive volleyball shoes feature a high-grip outsole for rapid changes in position, allowing players to execute tactical dashes and lunges without losing their balance. Attack position shoes are made with extra cushioning to allow for maximum confidence and precision while jumping, and they are also made with lightweight materials that won’t weigh you down. 

What Kind of Shoes Are Best for Volleyball?

Unsurprisingly, volleyball shoes are the best type of footwear to have while playing volleyball. They are designed specifically to protect your feet and legs from the impacts and injuries associated with playing volleyball and enhance your ability to perform the techniques and movements involved in mastering the sport. If you’re taking up the sport and looking to buy new shoes, go ahead and purchase volleyball shoes.

However, certain other types of athletic footwear that are designed for indoor sports with similar impacts can also be acceptable. For instance, if you already have a pair of basketball or badminton shoes and you’re not looking to spend more money right now, you’ll find these two types of shoes both perform well when playing volleyball.

Since ankle sprains and other ankle injuries are among the most commonly-suffered mishaps while playing volleyball, choosing an athletic shoe with good ankle support is important. Shoes with shock absorption and plenty of cushioning are also a good idea since jumping is such a common element of the sport.

Basketball Shoes

Basketball is played on an indoor court just like volleyball, so the soles are designed with excellent grip for maximum traction. Also, like volleyball, basketball involves lots of lateral motion, meaning side-to-side and front-to-back movement, and a good deal of jumping.


  • Shock absorption
  • Ankle support
  • Agility and lateral motion
  • Great traction

Main Differences

  • Thicker, harder sole
  • Heavier

Are They Suitable?

Since the sports involve similar motions, are played on the same surface, and impact similar joints, basketball shoes are a good choice for playing volleyball, though they are on the heavier side.

Badminton Shoes

Badminton is another sport that requires lots of agility, and the game also uses jump serves. Since badminton is usually played one-on-one, more running is involved than one usually sees in a volleyball match.


  • Non-marking, anti-slip soles
  • Shock absorption in the midfoot and heel
  • Ankle flexibility
  • Lightweight
  • Good stability and traction

Main Differences

  • Less padding in the front
  • Less focus on lateral motion

Are They Suitable?

Like basketball sneakers, badminton shoes are an acceptable choice for playing volleyball due to their lightweight, traction, and emphasis on freedom of motion. However, they offer less support for lateral movement, so volleyball shoes are a better or more serious play or court positions requiring a lot of lateral movement.

Tennis Shoes

Tennis is often played on a softer court than volleyball, but it does involve a lot of similar movements, including both side-to-side and front-to-back motions. Tennis sneakers have a particularly aggressive sole that allows these shoes to grip the court so players can really dig in when they go to meet the ball.


  • Aggressive sole for maximum traction
  • Shock absorption
  • Good for lateral motion
  • Different soles for soft or hard courts

Main Differences

  • More flat
  • Designed for different court types
  • Heavier

Are They Suitable?

For short-term play and casual games, tennis sneakers are fine; however, if you’re looking to play competitively or over a longer period, you’ll find yourself limited by the extra weight. Tennis shoes designed for soft courts may not offer the right grip or traction for playing volleyball.

Running Sneakers

Running is a high-impact sport, and many people who run do so regularly over medium to long distances. Therefore, sneakers built for running are generally designed with maximum traction and limited weight in mind.


  • Breathability
  • Reflective
  • Lightweight
  • Good grip and traction

Main Differences

  • Different shapes for foot and ankle rotation
  • Not designed for lateral motion
  • Less shock absorption and padding

Are They Suitable?

Casual and occasional players may not notice much difference when playing volleyball in running shoes; however, these sneakers are not made to withstand the pressure volleyball places on your feet, ankles, and legs. If you’re going to play regularly, which is considered three or more times per week, you should opt for sport-specific volleyball shoes instead.

Regular Shoes

Street and fashion shoes come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and materials. Since they aren’t designed with high-impact activity or improved flexibility in mind, they are not recommended for working out or playing sports regularly or at a high level. It’s very likely to sustain an injury in shoes with little protective cushioning, arch support, or grip. 

Main Differences

  • Insufficient cushioning
  • Insufficient shock absorption
  • Little to no ankle support
  • Soles aren’t designed for athletic activity

Are They Suitable?

If your friend asks you to jump in a casual game and these are the only shoes you have, you’ll probably be fine, although you’ll want to be careful about jumping and slipping on the court. For regular or more serious play, get a pair of volleyball shoes.

Soccer Shoes

Since soccer is played on a wide variety of surfaces, there are many types of soccer shoes. Some styles are absolutely not appropriate for indoor use, while others might substitute for volleyball shoes in a pinch.


  • Agility and grip
  • Running capability
  • Soccer cleats have spikes for use on the grass
  • Other soccer shoes are designed for turf or indoor use

Main Differences

  • Less focus on lateral motion
  • No cushion for jumping
  • Less ankle support

Are They Suitable?

Indoor soccer is played on the same type of wooden court as volleyball, so if the only athletic shoes you have are indoor soccer shoes, you can get away with playing volleyball in them from time to time. However, you’ll need to be mindful when jumping and planting your foot since soccer shoes don’t offer the same ankle support as volleyball shoes. You should never use outdoor soccer cleats to play indoor sports.

In Conclusion

Some sports, including basketball and badminton, have a similar impact pattern to volleyball and are played on more or less the same court. If you play one of these sports and have the footwear to match, you can probably get away with playing casual volleyball wearing those shoes. 

However, if you’re getting serious about volleyball and want to really improve your game and avoid injury, your best move will be to buy volleyball shoes. This goes double if you’re going to be playing regularly, three or more times per week. 

Volleyball shoes are designed to protect your feet and legs from the specific strains associated with playing the sport, lessening the risk of injury for frequent players. They also provide the support and flexibility you need to execute the rapid footwork and agile dodges that make the sport so exciting and fun.