To the untrained eye, volleyball shoes may look the exact same as tennis shoes. This, however, is not the case and can actually be a big mistake. Volleyball shoes are different than tennis shoes, and they are different for a very good reason. Volleyball requires you to have a good level of traction on the court as well as being able to move from side to side and from front to back quickly. With some tennis shoes and running shoes, you simply can’t do that very well because they are made differently. Running shoes, for example are made to go forward. They are not mean for you to be cutting in different directions. This is why they often have rises in the front of the shoe. Volleyball shoes are of course different because they are flat to begin with all the way around. This guide will help you learn the ins and outs of volleyball shoes and it will help you determine what kind you want to buy. In addition, we’ll include the top ten shoes you can buy right now.
Top Volleyball Shoe Comparison Chart
Volleyball Shoes Buying Guide
Gum Rubber Soles
This is one of the biggest differentiating factors between tennis shoes and volleyball shoes. Volleyball shoes use gum rubber soles (on the bottom) of the shoe because they provide traction to the wearer. This gum rubber is good on a number of surfaces, but it wouldn’t be good on grass or anything like that. Gum rubber soles are common in not only the sport of volleyball, but also in soccer (indoor), squash, or practically any game played inside that. Gum rubber is typically colored in some way; it is not white on the bottoms or black, either. Gum rubber is oftentimes an yellowish color. You will certainly know it when you see it! Gum rubber is used for volleyball shoes because they are also non-marking. This allows you to play on the court without scratching up the surface too bad. And as stated, the gum rubber prevents you from sliding around on the court. This helps your ankles out a great bit as you don’t have to worry about injuring them quite as much.
Another noticeable difference between volleyball shoes and other forms of athletic shoes is the lighter weight that they carry. Volleyball is all about quick, lateral movements and jumping. Because of this, players need as little weight on them as possible. The shoes free players up to do their jobs whereas shoes from other sports might be bulkier because they may have to provide more protection than volleyball shoes do.
In order to keep the weight down, a couple of things are done to help. First of all, many shoes in all areas today have gone the synthetic route. Synthetics have replaced the materials of yesterday because they are cheaper to make and they are lighter in weight. These man made products are also easier to mold and conform to the body, so you can get a much closer to custom type feel. Synthetics look very shiny and slippery when they are used on uppers, but they should have no real effect on volleyball because, unlike soccer, you’re not kicking the ball! Mesh is also used to keep the weight down while also allowing the shoe to be breathable.
The midsole or the middle part of the shoe is designed to help volleyball players protect the ball of the foot by offering it support. Since most players are on the balls of their feet when waiting and need a lot of explosive power, they need a special shoe to help. Volleyball shoes, like we’ve talked about before, are designed this way to make sure that you can move laterally. If you were wearing running shoes, you probably wouldn’t have as much support for the balls of the feet. The midsole of the volleyball shoe is also very strong as well as flexible. This is done so that you aren’t confined, but it is also done so that you have some form of shock absorption to help with the repeated motions. We know that doing anything repeatedly can cause an injury, so this is one way of helping prevent that. This is why a lot of volleyball shoes are reinforced with gel. Others have used air cushions in the past.
The upper part of the volleyball shoe is just the top part that you easily. In most instances, volleyball shoes are made from nylon or some other mesh or mesh-like material to help with breathability, which is just referring to being able to let your sweat out. Sweat build-up can make you very hot, so this is more about comfort than anything.
Taking care of your volleyball shoes is very important. There are a number of things that you can do to help preserve the life of them. Remember, the more you wear them, the less effective they will be. If you are purchasing them for frequent play, then you can expect that they will last a full season. If you don’t play as much, then you will most likely see more use out of them, unless you are very hard on them. Being hard on your shoes is a concern as well. If you walk on the outsides of your feet or the insides, then this can cause wear and tear. Another consideration to think about is whether or not you want to wear them when you are not playing. When you aren’t playing, it is wise to not wear your volleyball shoes. The reason is that even just walking causes wear and tear. So even though most of these shoes look cool and fashionable, you might want to resist the urge to wear them out and about. Any surface that is abrasive, such as concrete or asphalt can do a toll on volleyball shoes and your gum rubber. So, you need to keep all of this in mind unless you just want to buy some for looks.
Knowing when to change out your shoes is just as important as wearing them. The right time to replace volleyball shoes is when you start to lose traction. If you are sliding around at all on a court that has been mopped or swept, then you need to buy a new pair. If the floor is dirty, this could be causing your problem as well because the shoes aren’t meant to give you traction on dirt or dust. Another way to tell if you need to buy a new pair is if he ankles start to get sore. If this wasn’t previously a problem, it could indicate that the protection is wearing off. If your feet start to slide inside the shoe, this can also be a sign that you need a change. You have to make sure that the shoe continues to fit and feel as it did when you first purchased it. If not, then you could be setting yourself up for injury on the court.
As with all shoes, we are proponents of a good, comfortable fit. There are way too many people out there that buy shoes that don’t fit well for one reason or another. This may seem over the top, but it is seriously a big health problem, especially for children and young adults. You can potentially cause developmental problems for them, or even pain, as they use shoes that don’t fit correctly.
Volleyball shoes need to be a good, comfy fit. This means that you should be able to move your foot, but not to the point that it is sliding around inside the shoe. When you try on a pair, you need to make sure that there is just a little room between your big toe and the end of the shoe. If you wiggle your toe and it comes up to the edge, you need to look at another size up. If you wiggle and there is too much room, you need to look at a size down.
This is important because having the wrong size shoe can cause long-term issues that are sometimes serious. Shoes that are too small can cause you to blister very easily because you are rubbing up against the shoe at all times. They also can cause you to walk or run differently, or to jump and land on your toes in awkward positions. Doing this over and over again can lead to serious injury.
If the shoes are too big, you run the risk of possibly coming out of them, which is downright embarrassing. In addition to this, it can cause you to walk completely different than what your body is used to. This can cause areas of the body to hurt that shouldn’t hurt if you were walking correctly. This also means that your ankles aren’t being protected as they should be.
Why bother having a shoe that isn’t going to protect you fully? That’s the whole purpose of the shoe itself. Please make sure to go to the store and try on some pairs just to see what feels best. Don’t try and save a few dollars because you’re probably going to need a new pair for the next season anyway. The cost of a doctor’s visit or a trip to the after-hours clinic will cost you more than the shoes would in all likelihood, so make sure that they are a comfortable fit.
It is also important to point out that socks can play a huge role in this. There are some weird trends out there. Some people wear two pairs of socks, which we don’t encourage, while some will try and get away with none. It’s really dependent on you, but you must find a good combination for you. If you want to prevent blistering, a good pair of socks to go with your shoes is an absolute must! Socks can play just as big of a role in preventing blisters as shoes themselves.
In addition to all of this information, it is necessary to point out that there aren’t any options for wide foot shoes out on the market right now. At least, none of them are labeled as such. Because of this, it can be tough for a small percentage of people to find a good fit. You may need to go up a size, but we encourage you to try them on just to make sure that is what you need before buying. This is the case even if you plan to do so online as it is such a hassle to send things back via that route.
One more thing before we move on from this section: when trying on shoes, always remember that your feet are at their smallest when you have been inactive. This is a point that is often overlooked and forgotten, but it is important to know that you will not feel the same exact way when playing as you will when you try them on for the first time. As the body gets more and more active, the feet and ankles will swell. This swelling is going to cause a different fit. So one tip is to do some sort of exercise shortly before trying on your shoes. Of course, if you can’t do this then you can likely judge it and decide if you’ll need to get a half size larger to accommodate the swelling.
Price can be an obstacle for many in this arena. Volleyball shoes tend to run, when new, from between $50 and $140, so these aren’t too bad. The quality is what drives the price. If the technology is older or the shoe is older, then you can find shoes at a really good price. Just know that if you go that route that you aren’t getting the greatest thing available. However, if you’re a recreational player, this is probably just fine for you! The new technologies that have been brought in include things like gel and shock absorption, and there are new things all the time from the various manufacturers. They’re just trying to gain an upper hand on the competition. Also, it is notable that most companies usually have three or four different price points. Sometimes, the shoes will have the same basic name but have a different number or style. This is done so that people can shop at various levels of qualities or price points while still being able to buy the same looking shoe.
We briefly mentioned above that gum rubber is used in a variety of sports. This is because it provides the wearer with great traction on the court or even on an artificial turf surface. A multicourt shoe is an option that combines the volleyball shoe with the basketball shoe to make a sort of hybrid. These are very popular in sports such as badminton, squash, handball, and racquetball. There is a trend there and that is that all of those sports are also played on a court. However, they each have something that volleyball does not. None of those sports require very much jumping.
So while you can use multicourt shoes for volleyball because they have gum rubber, it isn’t the best of ideas simply because they are not built with any shock absorption in mind. This means that you are going to be taking a chance on your joints if you are using these all of the time. In fact, many players of the sports listed above like to use volleyball shoes because they find they are even better for them laterally. Recreational volleyball players would be just fine, though, with multicourt shoes because they aren’t likely to be playing nearly as much and won’t be under near as much stress as someone who plays and practices three or more times per week.
Men’s vs Women’s
The differences between men’s and women’s volleyball shoes are minimal. The gum rubber soles, the midsoles, and the uppers are practically all the same in both. The sizes are one of the main differences. Another would be the styles. Women’s volleyball shoes are made to be more stylish and typically offer more and/or different colors than their men’s counterparts. Women’s shoes are typically lighter in weight than their counterparts as well, likely because women are less heavy than men and the size is smaller.
We had talked shortly earlier about wide feet, and there is an additional option for women here. If you have wide feet as a woman, then you can try on a pair of men’s shoes. That will likely take care of the problem as the men’s shoes are usually a little bit wider than women’s feet simply because men are bigger. This may not be the answer, but it is well worth a try.
Other than these few things, there is little difference between the two. Women’s volleyball shoes have the same exact qualities that men’s do, so rest assured that you’re getting the very best pair possible!
Best Volleyball Shoe Reviews
Mizuno is one of the biggest names the volleyball market and has a great selling unisex shoe that is top notch in quality. It does carry a hefty price, but they make up for it in quality. It is an interesting pink color, but we’re sure they have other colors as well. The cool thing about these is that they are high tops, almost like basketball shoes so you get even more ankle support. They are very lightweight and have great breathability with mesh and it also has an “anatomical cup insole,” which is an essentially an insert to make your foot more comfortable!
- Great style
- Breathable and comfortable
- High tops protect ankles
- High price
- Possibly a little too pink for some
This pair of men’s ASICS pairs synthetic and mesh on the upper to give you added breathability as well as the opportunity to move your foot around. This will come in handy on warm days in the gym. Even on dusty floors, these shoes have really great traction, and it doesn’t have any weird designs that we sometimes see with other volleyball shoes. One of the concerns, though, is that it wears a little bit on the soles, especially if you’re a player that tends to set more than attack the net. This could just be the body positioning used. You will need to likely buy a half a size larger than usual as these run a little small. They are right in the medium price range, so you shouldn’t have any complaints if you want a nice shoe for a decent price.
- Great medium-range price
- Great traction on dirty floors
- Mesh gives your feet a chance to breathe
- Soles wear a little over time depending on the position played
- Tend to run a little small
Nike only recently got into the volleyball market by targeting it specifically. Before that, they only gave their teams hybrid shoes. This is an answer to that, and they do a good job. The first thing you notice is that they look like a basketball shoe, which we think looks awesome and different. However, it doesn’t have a huge high top for you to worry about if you don’t like that. The great thing about these is that the insole molds to your foot, which is sometimes a problem in this market. They do run a little large, and they toward the higher end of the price spectrum.
- Great comfort
- Protects ankles without being too binding
- Ultra lightweight
- Doesn’t look like a volleyball shoe
- Higher price for a newer brand in the industry
ASICS comes back on to the list with a men’s shoes that looks a whole lot like a normal running shoe. This shoe has just a little more than what could be called a low top in terms of ankle support, so you may want to get some just in case. These are fully synthetic with no mesh, so that may provide a small problem as the mesh is a little more breathable. The insole is removable on this pair, so they are encouraging you to pick your own instead of having it mold to your foot like some of the choices above would. It is is a little higher in price compared to some, and it might be a little annoying to see the insoles don’t form to the foot.
- Has a classic white and black look
- Keeps the ankles very free
- Very comfortable
- Higher price than some comparable items
- Not as durable as one would like
This shoe from Mizuno is more in the upper mid-range level of quality and pricing. Unlike the Lightning, it is not a high top that looks similar to basketball shoes do. Instead, it is a medium range of support like most regular tennis shoes have. This is not uncommon, and these shouldn’t be overlooked just because of that. The style is nice and classy, and it is made from synthetic and mesh to make sure your foot is able to be moved and is breathable. It has great shock absorbing ability, and it is very popular in volleyball circles.
It features an AIRmesh upper for lots of breathability (and overall comfort) and INTERCOOL technology. This ventilation helps decrease heat and humidity build-up in the shoe, and finally, it has a shock-absorbing mid-sole (called SR Touch) which consists of lighter material than in the past, so lots of tech upgrades in this new model.
- Great price for good quality
- Mid-level support if you enjoy that feel
- Shocks absorbed easily
- Could be a problem if you have very bad ankles
- Not many styles to choose from
These shoes instantly pop (visually that is!) and look great, even when they aren’t being worn. They are made by ASICS, which has tons of experience making gel shoes for racquet sports. This is a mid-range priced pair of shoes, but they provide the wearer with great traction and shock absorption during the game. They have gel systems in the front and back to help cushion and gives you a soft platform from which to jump and move. The EVA midsole provides great cushion along with the EVA sockliner which is removable to accommodate a medical orthotic.
- Great style
- Very comfortable
- Good price
- Less mesh could lead to a little overheating
Coming in with a classy yet flashy color and at a premium price is another high-quality shoe from Mizuno. These shoes have just enough flash to stand out, but they are still very refined at the same time. These aren’t quite high tops, but they are close to being there, so you get some additional ankle support. They have the new infinity wave plate which disperses the energy when you push off the balls of your feet, which greatly helps repeated movements. It also helps prevent the shoe from taking on a shape that it isn’t supposed to! They also seem to do well for wide feet.
- Great style
- Even better substance
- Infinity plate does wonders
- High price for those that won’t play often
- Might be bothersome for someone who doesn’t want to be restricted
These shoes are marked as unisex, but they are to be ordered in men’s sizes. They have a decent style to them, but they’d probably look better to most men. These are at the very high end of price, and with that, they have a lot of quality. The Tornado line has great comfort as it has a moldable insole that fits your specific foot. It has a synthetic outsole as the shiny nature of the design shows. This helps it last longer and keeps the weight down so you can block, dig, and spike all day long. These are high tops, so your ankles are going to be strapped in essentially, so you shouldn’t need any further protection there. These also have the wave technology that disperses the impact so your foot doesn’t feel it.
- Can be worn by either man or woman
- Insole fits your foot
- High top keeps ankles locked in place
- Very high price
- Some of the upper can be scratched off at times
Here’s one of the newest shoes on our list and it’s arguably among the best on our list. It didn’t make #1 or at least closer to the top of the list because of the complaint some had of “clunkiness” or heaviness compared to the competition.
In spite of this, the Volley Boost is an impressive shoe on a few fronts. The least important is that of looks. The graduated (graded) color effects on the side of the shoe and at least 5 colors on the sole, give this Adidas creation a great, eye-catching look. More importantly, the technical features are hard to ignore.
It features a rubber sole (that’s what you want in a court shoe), there’s what Adidas calls a “flexible Powerband upper” and a molded insole. Adidas’ proprietary Sprintplate stabilizes and guides your foot through jumps, and the rubber outsole is durable and resists wear supremely!
- Durably built
- Looks Great
- Good value for price
- Possibly too clunky/heavy for gym use
This last entry on the list varies greatly in price as it ranges from very reasonable to mid-level pricing and features three designs that are a little bit subdued. They may lack in flash and style a little, but they are very good at holding up. These would be exceptional volleyball shoes for a recreational type player or maybe even a player that plays a little more frequently. They are also comfortable enough to be worn with external ankle supports since they are in between a low top and mid level support.
- Good price
- Great for recreational players
- Durable and comfortable
- The style is a bit different (might be a good thing for some) despite different color choices
- The lower cut could be tough on ankles